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State Immigration Legislation and Immigrant Flows: An Analysis

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In recent decades, states have attempted to discourage flows of immigrants--legal and illegal alike--through ballot measures that deny illegal entrants certain state services. Scholarly work on this issue has not come to a conclusion on whether such measures, such as California's Proposition 187, really do discourage immigration.

Using a multivariate ordinary least squared framework, this paper examines immigration flows to U.S. states between 2000 and 2006 to determine if the enactment or consideration of Proposition 187-like measures does indeed affect Mexican, Latin American, or total immigrant flows to a state. Its results show that the consideration or enactment of Proposition 187-like measures does not affect any type of legal immigrant flow to a state. On the other hand, the enactment of measures that give extra benefits to illegal immigrants--such as Maryland's licensing scheme--does indeed bring additional legal flows of Mexican, Latin American, and all immigrants to a state.