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Access Type

WSU Access

Date of Award

January 2022

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Allen Goodman


This dissertation examines the two policies involving undocumented immigrants – granting them driver’s permits, and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival legalization. The introductory chapter surveys the history of the U.S. immigration system and reviews several approaches of identifying the undocumented population in data. Chapter 2 focuses on the Michigan driver’s license ban enacted in 2008 that restricted driving permits only to citizens and legally present foreigners. Using several time specifications and estimation methods, the data show that the ban did not increase traffic safety. Instead, the number of accidents after the ban increased by about 5%. This is consistent with the assertion that drivers who do not get driver’s education drive less safely. Further, examining the effects of policies explicitly granting undocumented immigrants driving permits in several states in the mid-2010s, the data show no negative effects on traffic safety in terms of fatal accidents, number of deaths, and alcohol-related deaths. Under some specifications, crash-related death rate decreased. Car insurance costs either slightly decreased or remained the same. Chapter 3 examines what happened to wages and employment of native workers after the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals legalization. Using three separate methods, and focusing on metropolitan areas, states, and the nation as a whole, the data do not show an overall statistically significant change to labor market outcomes of natives in the same age cohort. Some models show a small increase in the employment-to-population ratio of native workers of about .3% for each percentage point increase of DACA eligible immigrant share in the metropolitan area. Conducting synthetic control method analysis on the eleven metro areas with the largest DACA eligible share yields statistically significant positive effects on wages of natives in three separate metro areas, and both a small positive and a small negative effect on unemployment of high school educated natives in two California cities. Overall, the available data refute the claim that legalizing DACA recipients was harmful to the wages and employment of native workers of the same age group.

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