In an era when countries and their populations are increasingly exposed to the opportunities and risks associated with the ever-expanding global movement of people, policymakers are rethinking approaches to border controls and border management. These policies and programs run the gamut—from facilitating the legitimate movement of people and trade to thwarting the unauthorized movement of humans and contraband, the latter a significant preoccupation in the post-9/11 era and as publics have become ever less accepting of illegal immigration. The research offered here examines the management of borders, enforcement policies and initiatives, and technologies used in pursuit of border security.
After years of gridlock, increasing pressure from immigrant advocates, and several delays in 2014, President Obama announced sweeping executive actions to provide deportation relief to as many as 5.2 million unauthorized immigrants in the United States. The plan sparked a political firestorm among Republicans who vowed to use all tools at their disposal to block the actions, ensuring that immigration will continue to be a flashpoint for the remainder of the president's term.
In 2014 governments in Europe, North America, and Australia reacted to significant mixed flows of humanitarian, economic, and family-stream migrants with a range of new policies. These came as some migrants presented themselves to authorities for processing rather than trying to evade U.S. or European border controls, with the knowledge that backlogs and little political will for the removal of vulnerable populations might allow them to stay for extended periods.
Fears regarding the spread of the deadly Ebola virus following an outbreak in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone prompted governments around the world to regulate travel from and within West Africa. Travel bans, airport health screenings, closed borders, and traveler quarantines were among the policies implemented. International organizations argue such restrictions drive possibly symptomatic travelers to illegally bypass borders and encourage dishonesty in the exit screening process.
New migration patterns at the U.S. Southwest border, including a shift in border crossers from primarily Mexican men to Central American families, and from the California and Arizona borders to the Rio Grande Valley, have important implications for U.S. border policy and enforcement strategies, raising questions of what consequences might deter unauthorized Central Americans while still meeting international obligations to protect vulnerable migrants.
Driven by rising migrant deaths in the Mediterranean, the Bay of Bengal, the Red Sea, and elsewhere, as well as by the challenges to border-control policies implicit in maritime migration, representatives of states, civil society, and international organizations gathered in December 2014 under the auspices of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to discuss ways to limit the loss of life and foster international cooperation. This commentary explores the issues and challenges surrounding irregular maritime migration.
In recent years emigration from Mexico has declined, the country's stable economy has drawn an increasing number of international migrants, and the pace of transmigration to the United States has quickened. Amid these changing realities, punctuated by a spike in migration of unaccompanied minors from Central America in 2014, Mexico is confronting a new role as migration manager: balancing increasing enforcement and protection of migrants' rights.
This conference, keynoted by USCIS Director León Rodríguez, featured panels on local immigrant integration policies; expected executive action on immigration; the treatment of unaccompanied children from Central America; and innovations in government-funded legal counsel and accelerated court cases.