How Does Legal Status Affect Immigrants’ Internal Geographic Mobility? Evidence from DACA

Publication Date


Grant Type

Early Career Research Award


Historically, US immigrants’ geographic mobility decisions have been more responsive to local labor market conditions than similarly skilled natives’. This helps local labor markets equilibrate after economic shocks. Often the argument is that immigrants are less tied to a particular geographic location. A secure legal status could either allow immigrants to engage in activities that make them more attached to a local area or allow them to engage in more risky, and costly, moves without the fear of deportation. Exploiting the 2012 introduction of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), I document how attaining legal status and employment rights affects immigrants’ propensity to engage in internal migration. In an event study framework, I find preliminary evidence that attaining legal status leads to more geographic mobility among young, Hispanic immigrants. Building on existing work, I can determine how this affects labor market dynamism, to see if this is a potential economic benefit of paths to legal status.