Description: Department Seminar: Chunbei Wang (University of Oklahoma)
Location: Virtual, TBA
Contact Person: John Winters
Title: "Intermarriage Amid Increased Immigration Status Uncertainty: Evidence from DACA"
Abstract: In 2012, the Obama Administration issued an executive order –the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)– providing some undocumented immigrants who had arrived as children a renewable 2-year reprieve from deportation and work authorization. Since its inception, the program has benefited more than 800,000 undocumented immigrants, most of whom applied in the early years of the program. The program’s benefits were, however, temporary. In addition, in 2017, President Trump announced it would end DACA –an announcement subsequently followed by several court challenges. We examine how the uncertainty surrounding the duration of the granted benefits and the program’s survival influenced DACA-eligible immigrants’ decision to marry a citizen –presumably to secure permanent residence amid an increasingly unclear policy environment. Using a difference-in-differences approach and exploiting the discontinuity in DACA eligibility criteria cutoffs to construct akin treatment and control groups, we find that DACA-eligible immigrants became more likely than similar DACA-ineligible undocumented migrants to marry U.S. citizens after the program came under siege. Understanding immigrants’ response to policy changes is critical, especially given the size of the population affected by the program and the long-term consequences of intermarriage on migrant assimilation and the well-being of future generations of Americans.