Deportation and its Strikingly Close Correlation to the Great Housing Foreclosures of the Mid-2000s

Last Week the New York Times reported that mass deportations would negatively impact the housing market, as evidenced by research showing that mass deportation of more than three million undocumented immigrants between 2005 and 2013 helped exacerbate foreclosures.  Simply speaking chronologically, the massive pile-up of foreclosures during the housing crash, one in five of which affected homeowning Hispanic households, seemed to coincide with the mass exodus of undocumented immigrants, about 85 percent of whom were working Latin American men.

According to a recent study published by sociologists Jacob S. Rugh and Matthew Hall, the roundups of undocumented immigrants from 2005 to 2013 help explain why Hispanics faced the highest foreclosure rates during the housing crash—even among households with legal residents and American citizens.  According to Rugh and Hall, “Latino immigrants put down roots in the United States, including household home ownership across mixed legal statuses.  Among those deported, the median length of U.S. residence is 14 years.”

Furthermore, since many of those deported were Latino males, presumably a good portion of whom were primary income earners, the loss of such income, formerly devoted to mortgage payments, raises the likelihood of household foreclosure. These findings reveal the often unseen effects of mass deportation on the United States’ economy and the social groundwork.  No longer just the stuff of academic studies, these findings have now found themselves a critical place at the policy-making table as President-elect Donald Trump weighs whether to follow through on his campaign promise to deport millions of undocumented immigrants.

To closer investigate the correlation of mass deportations and mass foreclosures, Rugh and Hall delved into Section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which permits the federal government to delegate immigration enforcement powers to state and local officers.  Although the program was part of the 1996 immigration bill, it was not actively used until the mid-2000s as a vehicle for rounding up undocumented immigrants as a result of a heightened post-9/11 political climate.

According to the study, U.S. counties that participated in the round-ups justified under Section 287(g) were home to about five million central Americans and Mexicans, and about a quarter of the undocumented population in the country.  Those counties that did not participate include paces that considered themselves “sanctuary cities,” a term that finds itself at the centerfold of immigration discourse again in 2016, as cities and counties nationwide prepare for policies proposed by the President-elect which closely mirror those round-up style deportations of the mid-2000s, namely the mandated registration of Muslim immigrants in the United States.

In conclusion, Rugh and Hall proposed a more self-interested appeal for the country’s upcoming debate over undocumented immigrants, which is that homeowners need Hispanic buyers.  The almost too-close-too-argue correlation between the last mass deportation of undocumented immigrants and our nation’s onslaught of economy-shattering housing foreclosures demonstrates how deportation intensifies rifts within our communities and the necessary role that immigrants play in our economy.