UC Davis Agricultural and Resource Economics

Catalina Amuedo-Dorantes, University of California, Merced

Intermarriage Amid Immigration Status Uncertainty: Evidence from DACA

Date and Location

Tuesday, May 2, 2023, 4:10 PM - 5:30 PM
ARE Library Conference Room, 4101 Social Sciences and Humanities


In 2012, the Obama Administration issued an executive order –the Deferred Action for Childhood
Arrivals (DACA)– providing some undocumented immigrants who had arrived as children a
renewable 2-year reprieve from deportation and work authorization. Since its inception, the
program has benefited more than 800,000 undocumented immigrants, most of whom applied in
the early years of the program. The program’s benefits were, however, temporary. In addition,
in 2017, President Trump announced that his Administration would end DACA – an
announcement subsequently followed by several court challenges. We examine how the
uncertainty surrounding the duration of the granted benefits and the program’s survival
influenced DACA-eligible immigrants’ decision to marry a citizen –presumably to secure
permanent residence amid an increasingly unclear policy environment. Using a difference-in-
differences approach and exploiting the discontinuity in DACA eligibility criteria cutoffs to
construct akin treatment and control groups, we find that DACA-eligible immigrants became
more likely than similar DACA-ineligible undocumented migrants to marry U.S. citizens after
the program came under siege. Understanding immigrants’ response to policy changes is critical,
especially given the size of the population affected by the program and the long-term
consequences of intermarriage on migrant assimilation and the well-being of future generations
of Americans.

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