Immigration Enforcement and Student Achievement: the Negative Spillover of Secure Communities


Laura Bellows

Year of Publication: 

Over the past decade, U.S. immigration enforcement policies have increasingly targeted unauthorized immigrants residing in the U.S. interior, many of whom are the parents of U.S.-citizen children. Heightened immigration enforcement may affect student achievement through stress, income effects, or student mobility. I use one such immigration enforcement policy, Secure Communities, to examine how immigration enforcement affects student achievement. I use the staggered activation of Secure Communities across counties between 2008 and 2013 to measure its impact on average achievement for Hispanic students, as well as non-Hispanic black and white students. My results suggest that the implementation of Secure Communities decreased average achievement for Hispanic students in English Language Arts (ELA), although not in math. I also find that Secure Communities negatively affected the performance of non-Hispanic black students in ELA. Similarly, I find that increases in county removals due to Secure Communities are associated with decreased achievement for both Hispanic and non-Hispanic black students in ELA.