AEFP 45th Annual Conference

Toward a Meaningful Impact through Research, Policy & Practice

March 19-21, 2020

Examining the relationship between immigration enforcement and educational attainment: The case of sanctuary policies

Daniel Corral, University of Wisconsin-Madison,

Research examining increased immigration enforcement has consistently found a negative association with educational outcomes. One way local governments have decreased immigration enforcement is through sanctuary policies. Sanctuary policies are issued by city or county governments and prohibit local political leaders and police officials from cooperating with federal immigration enforcement officers regarding individuals’ immigration status. The current study applied a generalized difference-in-differences research design through an event study approach to evaluate the impact of sanctuary policies on the high school completion and college enrollment of Hispanic undocumented students. Preliminary findings suggest sanctuary policies have virtually no effect on educational attainment.



Hi Daniel, thank you for this interesting poster. I have been thinking a lot about the immigration/school connection since the new Public Charge changes came out last fall. I'm curious to know more about your next steps for this work. Have you considered comparing these outcomes with other immigration programs such as DACA? Matthew Courtney

Thanks for sharing some interesting work. I'm curious, is it typical in the literature to use Hispanic foreign-born non-citizens as a proxy measure for undocumented students?

Hi Daniel, I think this topic is so interesting and important- thanks for sharing it! I'm curious about the timing of the protections you're primarily interested in here with other policies that may have expanded college access for undocumented students, like DACA or financial aid programs (like the Cal Grant) that undocumented students are eligible for. I think it might be interesting to see to what extent the increases in college enrollment are coming after sanctuary policies alone are implemented or if these different policies may be mutually positively reinforcing. Looking forward to seeing your work progress!

Thanks for sharing your work! I'm wondering about the measure of sanctuary cities. There are several counties that have declared themselves sanctuaries and are currently fighting lawsuits trying to get them to overturn that status. I don't know as much about the data source where you create this variable from but I'm wondering if it takes that into account? Basically, when we say this is a sanctuary county, what do we actually mean? Really interesting. Feel free to email me if you want to chat this through more!

Are most of these sanctuary locations also in states that allow undocumented students to receive grant aid and/or in-state tuition? That could also be driving some of the observed effects.

Hi Daniel! Thank you for looking at the effectiveness of these potentially protective policies. I had some questions about your sample - how many youth are identified as Hispanic foreign-born non-citizens? Have you looked at effects on the children of Hispanic foreign-born non-citizens? Please feel free to get in touch - my email is

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