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U.S. Border Crossings Drop Twenty Percent from 2000 to 2004: MPI Releases Data on US-Canada-Mexico Trade and Migration
Press Release
Tuesday, October 25, 2005

U.S. Border Crossings Drop Twenty Percent from 2000 to 2004: MPI Releases Data on US-Canada-Mexico Trade and Migration

The volume of travel to the United States from Canada and Mexico declined by 20 percent between FY 2000 and FY 2004, according to data released by the Migration Policy Institute today. The decline was revealed by a drop in the number of inspections at U.S. air, land, and sea ports of entry, with land inspections decreasing by 24 percent. The U.S.-Canadian border experienced a sharper decline (31 percent) than the U.S.-Mexico border (21 percent). While the steepest drop occurred between FY 2001 and FY 2002, the volume at land borders has continued to decrease annually.

"These data support the anecdotal evidence we have been hearing in border communities about a post-September 11 decline in discretionary travel that has yet to reverse itself," said Senior Policy Analyst Deborah Meyers. "The new requirement for passports (or another approved document) to enter the United States is generating concern by government, business and tourism officials that cross-border traffic will decline further."

Trade and migration issues associated with border security and NAFTA will be on the agenda as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice meets with Canadian officials today in Ottawa and the U.S.-Mexico Binational Commission meets in Washington, D.C. tomorrow. In advance of these meetings, the Migration Policy Institute has released a fact sheet based on the latest data on trilateral trade and migration, available here.

This week's diplomatic meetings provide an early opportunity for policymakers to evaluate progress under the Security and Prosperity Partnership signed by the United States, Mexico and Canada in March 2005. The agreement aims to establish a common approach to security while allowing for the continued movement of people, goods and services across North American borders.

The MPI fact sheet also shows that:

  • Since NAFTA was signed in 1994, Mexico-U.S. trade has increased by more than 165 percent, reaching $268 billion in 2004, and Mexico-Canada trade has tripled from $4.1 billion to $12.6 billion. Two-way trade between Canada and United States has almost doubled, averaging $1.2 billion a day (or more than US$428 billion a year) in FY 2004.
  • People born in the United States represent 63.2 percent of Mexico's foreign born population — most are the U.S.-born children of Mexican citizens.
  • Canada has seen a 40 percent drop in asylum claims made at ports of entry on the U.S.-Canada land border since the U.S.-Canada Safe Third Country Agreement became effective in December 2004. The agreement requires asylum seekers to file their claims in the country of first arrival. In 2001, Canada received approximately a third of its refugee claims at the U.S. border from asylum seekers who first arrived in the United States.
  • More than 11.8 million people live in the U.S.-Mexico border zone, with 90 percent living in 14 "sister city" pairs.

Additional Resources from the Migration Policy Institute:

One Face at the Border: Behind the Slogan 
Deborah Meyers evaluates the Department of Homeland Security's ambitious initiative to unify immigration, customs and agriculture inspections at U.S. air, land and sea ports. It is available at:https://www.migrationpolicy.org/pubs/Meyers_Report.pdf

Secure Borders, Open Doors: Visa Procedures in the Post-September 11 Era 
Stephen Yale-Loehr, Demetrios G. Papademetriou and Betsy Cooper find that the U.S. visa policy program has become a key tool in promoting national security, but vulnerabilities remain and government agencies must work together to ensure that security measures do not compromise U.S. economic competitiveness and foreign policy goals.

Real Challenges for Virtual Borders: The Implementation of US-VISIT 
Rey Koslowski, Associate Professor of Political Science, Rutgers University-Newark, finds that the US-VISIT program will need a clearer mandate and serious investments of political and economic capital to provide more than an illusion of national security.

The Migration Information Source, MPI's award-winning online resource, has released Special Issues on Mexico-US migration, available at https://www.migrationinformation.org/special_mexico.cfm, and most recently, on the Unauthorized, at https://www.migrationinformation.org/special_unauthorized.cfm.