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The authors use data on border enforcement and macroeconomic indicators from the United States and Mexico to estimate a two-country business cycle model of labor migration and remittances. The model matches the cyclical dynamics of labor migration to the United States and documents how remittances to Mexico serve an insurance role to smooth consumption across the border. During expansions in the destination economy, immigration increases with the expected stream of future wage gains, but it is dampened by a sunken migration cost that reflects the intensity of border enforcement. During recessions, established migrants are deterred from returning to their country of origin, which places an additional downward pressure on the wage of native unskilled workers.
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