We use the restricted-use National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) data (2000-2012) and link county-level 287(g) policy variables, and we adopt a difference-in-difference research design. Health is measured by self-rated health, and mental health is measured by Kessler-6 Psychological Distress Scale. The analytic sample is restricted to adults aged 18-60 born in Latin America living in households with at least one noncitizen family member. Ordinary least square models with county and year fixed effects are used to measure the health effects.
Results suggest that SC increased the proportion of Latino immigrants with mental health distress by 2.2 percentage points (14.7 percent); Task Force Enforcement under Section 287(g) worsened their mental health distress scores by 15 percent (0.08 standard deviation); Jail Enforcement under Section 287(g) increased the proportion of Latino immigrants reporting fair or poor health by 1 percentage point (11.1 percent) and lowered the proportion reporting very good or excellent health by 4.8 to 7.0 percentage points (7.8 to 10.9 percent). These findings are robust across various sensitivity checks.
There is little national-level scientific research on how immigration policy environment affects immigrant health, in general, and how state- and local-activism on immigration enforcement has influenced the health behaviors, health and mental health of immigrant families. This research bridges this critical knowledge gap and offers evidence to assess the full range of costs and benefits of immigration enforcement policies.