Transnational Organized Crime Groups, Immigration, and Border Security: Connections, Distinctions, and Proposals for Effective Policy
Testimony of Andrew Selee, President of MPI, before the Senate Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Border Security and Immigration on December 12, 2018 regarding the intersections of transnational crime, immigration, and border security.
"Chairman Cornyn, Ranking Member Durbin, and Members of the Subcommittee:
Thank you for the opportunity to testify before the Senate Subcommittee on Border Security and Immigration today. My name is Andrew Selee and I am the president of the Migration Policy Institute, a non-partisan, independent research institution focused on practical and effective policy options for managing immigration.
The links between transnational crime organizations (TCOs) and migration are deep but also complex. TCO activity has helped fuel broader violence in Central America and Mexico, which has in turn led to instability, violence, and the decision by hundreds of thousands of families to migrate north to Mexico and the United States. Not all acts of violence—or even most —are committed by the TCOs themselves, but gangs and smaller local crime groups generally maintain links to the larger TCOs, which help supply them with resources, weapons, and legitimacy.
Migrant smuggling organizations also maintain links to TCOs, although these are almost always separate networks. These relationships are utilitarian, situational, and different from place to place, but the control that TCOs in Mexico exert over key smuggling routes, including access to parts of the U.S.-Mexico border, has made the journey across Mexico even more precarious and life-threatening for Central American migrants.
The inauguration of a new government in Mexico has made it possible to restart a bilateral agenda around addressing the threat of TCOs, a topic covered by others on this panel, and in developing more strategic options for managing migration flows, which are addressed here. In particular, the U.S. government has an opportunity to support Mexico’s nascent efforts to professionalize its immigration and border authorities, create employment-based visas for Central American workers, and significantly enhance its embryonic asylum system.[...]"