MEXICAN MIGRANTS IN THE UNITED STATES: FACTORS INFLUENCING EARNINGS, REMITTANCES, AND RETURNING TO THE MOTHERLAND
Collazo Jr, Jose Luis
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This dissertation includes three journal-length articles with introductory and conclusory chapters. These articles examine the effect U.S. immigration policy periods, particularly the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) period (1987–1996) and the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) period (1997–2015), have had on Mexican migrants. The first study examines the effect the Mexican migrants’ unauthorized status, U.S. destination, and the immigration policy periods (pre-IRCA [1965–1986], IRCA [1987–1996], and IIRIRA [1997–2015]) have had on their likelihood of returning to Mexico during their first and last U.S. trips. Compared to authorized migrants, the unauthorized migrants’ probability in returning was higher throughout the immigration policy periods. There was no evidence that the migrants’ US. destination increased their probability in returning to Mexico. The second study examines the IIRIRA period’s effect on male Mexican migrants’ hourly earnings and on the gains brought by human capital and social capital during their last U.S. trip. When the immigration policy periods (pre-IRCA [1965–1986], IRCA [1987–1996] and IIRIRA [1997–2015]) were compared, the unauthorized migrants earned less during the IRCA period compared to the prior and posterior immigration policy periods. However, the predicted values reveal that stricter immigration enforcement practices have penalized more authorized migrants’ earnings than unauthorized migrants. After the passage of IIRIRA, the gains brought by human capital and social capital disappeared. The third study examines whether Mexican migrants’ remitting behavior (likelihood of remitting and the amount remitted) during their last U.S. trip changed as policies restricting unauthorized immigration in the U.S. tightened, and whether the migrants’ social capital mitigates this effect. Findings show that migrants with social capital increased their likelihood in sending remittances but not the quantity sent. The amount of remittances sent was substantially influenced by the stricter immigration policies. Overall, the immigration policies have the strongest effect on unauthorized migrants by decreasing their likelihood of returning, increasing the amount remitted, and decreasing their earnings gains.