Working Paper

Immigrant enforcement and children’s living arrangements

Published 11 July 2018 / By Catalina Amuedo-Dorantes & Esther Arenas-Arroyo

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Tougher immigration enforcement was responsible for 1.8 million deportations between 2009 and 2013 alone. We exploit the geographic and temporal variation in intensified enforcement to gauge its impact on children’s propensity to live without their parents, or in households headed by single mothers with absentee spouses. Given the negative consequences of being raised without parents or in a single-headed household and the parallel increase in immigration enforcement in the United States, gaining a better understanding of the collateral damage of heightened enforcement on the families to which these children belong is well warranted.


Immigration Enforcement, Undocumented Immigrants, Children’s Living Arrangements, Family Structure, United States.


Catalina Amuedo-Dorantes, San Diego State University; Email:

Esther Arenas-Arroyo, University of Oxford, Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS); Email:


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