E.g., 08/12/2020
E.g., 08/12/2020

Border Security

Border Security

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.

Recent Activity

Migrants being smuggled in a car trunk are intercepted at U.S.-Mexico border
Articles
Boats along a river in the Darien Gap, Panama
Reports
September 2019
By Andrew Selee, Silvia E. Giorguli-Saucedo, Ariel G. Ruiz Soto, and Claudia Masferrer
Reports
September 2019
By Andrew Selee, Silvia E. Giorguli-Saucedo, Ariel G. Ruiz Soto, and Claudia Masferrer
Reports
August 2019
By Randy Capps, Doris Meissner, Ariel G. Ruiz Soto, Jessica Bolter, and Sarah Pierce
Commentaries
July 2019
By Andrew Selee, Silvia E. Giorguli-Saucedo, Claudia Masferrer, and Ariel G. Ruiz Soto
Commentaries
July 2019
By Andrew Selee, Silvia E. Giorguli-Saucedo, Claudia Masferrer, and Ariel G. Ruiz Soto

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Reports
September 2019
By Andrew Selee, Silvia E. Giorguli-Saucedo, Ariel G. Ruiz Soto, and Claudia Masferrer
Reports
September 2019
By Andrew Selee, Silvia E. Giorguli-Saucedo, Ariel G. Ruiz Soto, and Claudia Masferrer
Reports
August 2019
By Randy Capps, Doris Meissner, Ariel G. Ruiz Soto, Jessica Bolter, and Sarah Pierce
Reports
September 2018
By Doris Meissner, Faye Hipsman, and T. Alexander Aleinikoff
Reports
March 2018
By Jeanne Batalova, Andriy Shymonyak, and Michelle Mittelstadt
Books
October 2016
By Kathleen Newland, Elizabeth Collett, Kate Hooper, and Sarah Flamm
Fact Sheets
January 2016
By Marc R. Rosenblum and Isabel Ball

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Migrants being smuggled in a car trunk are intercepted at U.S.-Mexico border

As highly industrialized countries ramp up their border controls, human smugglers are playing a central role in moving migrants through key migration corridors around the world. Despite the illicit nature of their work and being cast as villains in the public eye, smugglers have complex, multifaceted relationships with their clients. At times, the relationship can be mutually beneficial or even lifesaving; at others, it can be predatory and dangerous, as this article explores.

Boats along a river in the Darien Gap, Panama

Growing numbers of African and Asian migrants are moving through Latin America, many hoping to reach the United States or Canada after expensive, arduous, and often dangerous journeys that can take months or even years. As more extracontinental migrants transit through South and Central America, Colombia, Panama, and Costa Rica have developed the most comprehensive policies to manage these flows, sometimes working in coordination with the U.S. government.

Border Patrol agents and child migrants

Approximately 11,500 unaccompanied children were apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border in May, putting this year on track to exceed 2014's surge. As the U.S. government struggles to care for these child migrants, with public outrage mounting over reports of unsafe, filthy conditions in initial Border Patrol custody, the failure of the executive branch and Congress to plan for increased shelter and care demands are increasingly apparent, as this article explores.

Migrants on a boat

Remain in Mexico—the Trump administration policy aimed at deterring the rising numbers of migrants from Central America by requiring them to stay in Mexico through most of their U.S. asylum adjudication process—bears striking similarities to U.S. policy in the 1980s and 1990s that sought to discourage Haitians from making the sea journey to the United States. This article explores the parallels and differences between Remain in Mexico and the earlier narrowing of asylum for Haitians.

U.S. Marine secures barbed-wire fencing at the California-Mexico border.

The Trump administration took sweeping action in 2018 to slow legal immigration, make life harder for some immigrants already in the United States, rebuff would-be asylum seekers, and reduce refugee resettlement. Shaping a narrative of crisis at the border, the administration significantly changed the U.S. asylum system, deployed troops and tear gas, and separated families—yet Central American migrants continued to arrive.

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Commentaries
July 2019
By Andrew Selee, Silvia E. Giorguli-Saucedo, Claudia Masferrer, and Ariel G. Ruiz Soto
Commentaries
July 2019
By Andrew Selee, Silvia E. Giorguli-Saucedo, Claudia Masferrer, and Ariel G. Ruiz Soto
Video, Audio
June 8, 2020

Following months of rising Central American migration through Mexico to the United States, the U.S. and Mexican governments on June 7, 2019 signed a joint declaration pledging to work together to manage and reduce irregular migration. At the agreement’s one-year anniversary, MPI researchers engaged in discussion with former U.S.

Andrew Selee, Veronica Escobar, Dan Crenshaw, Duncan Wood
Video
April 22, 2020

In this bipartisan discussion, two border-state members of Congress—Rep. Veronica Escobar and Rep. Dan Crenshaw—discuss the response to the coronavirus outbreak, how it is affecting the interconnected border region, and what the future might hold.
 

Audio
April 8, 2020

MPI and MPI Europe experts discuss the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on asylum systems in Europe and North America, as well as in developing regions, where 85 percent of refugees live. During this freeform conversation, our analysts also assess the implications for the principle of asylum and the future for a post-World War II humanitarian protection system that is under threat.

Expert Q&A, Audio
March 31, 2020

Governments are facing urgent pandemic-related questions. One of the more pressing ones: Who is going to harvest crops in countries that rely heavily on seasonal foreign workers? In this podcast, MPI experts examine ways in which countries could address labor shortages in agriculture, including recruiting native-born workers and letting already present seasonal workers stay longer.

Video, Audio
March 24, 2020

This webinar, organized by MPI and the Zolberg Institute on Migration and Mobility at The New School, discussed migration policy responses around the globe in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and examined where migration management and enforcement tools may be useful and where they may be ill-suited to advancing public health goals. 

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Recent Activity

Articles

Libya was once a prized destination for workers from around the world. But after Muammar Gaddafi’s overthrow in 2011, the country became the transit point for hundreds of thousands of Europe-bound asylum seekers and other migrants. Following Libya's 2017 deal with Italy to detain and return migrants caught at sea—which was renewed in February 2020—migrants became trapped in an unstable country, facing harrowing realities, as this article explores.

Commentaries
August 2020

Most EU Member States closed their borders to travel from neighboring countries in the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic. While internal borders in the Schengen zone largely reopened in time for summer holidays, there is a lingering sense they could snap shut anew. Though the reflexive introduction of border controls speaks to an inherent lack of trust between states, the 2015-16 migration crisis offers lessons on how to begin to rebuild trust, as this commentary explores.

Reports
July 2020

Now into its fourth year, the Trump administration has reshaped the U.S. immigration system in ways big and small via presidential proclamations, policy guidance, and regulatory change. This report offers a catalog of the more than 400 administrative changes undertaken in areas such as immigration enforcement, humanitarian admissions, DACA, and visa processing—including a look at measures put in places since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Articles

Los llamados de los activistas a "desbancar a la policía", a raíz de una serie de encuentros mortales para los miembros de la comunidad negra, hacen eco de las demandas anteriores de "abolir el ICE" y reflejar una crítica más amplia de los sistemas de aplicación percibidos como demasiado agresivo.

Articles

Calls by activists to "defund the police," in the wake of a string of deadly encounters for Black community members, echo earlier demands to "abolish ICE" and reflect broader criticism of enforcement systems perceived as overly aggressive. Budgets have ballooned at federal immigration agencies and within the immigrant detention system as enforcement has become increasingly muscular in the post-9/11 period.

Video, Audio, Webinars
June 8, 2020

Following months of rising Central American migration through Mexico to the United States, the U.S. and Mexican governments on June 7, 2019 signed a joint declaration pledging to work together to manage and reduce irregular migration. At the agreement’s one-year anniversary, MPI researchers engaged in discussion with former U.S. and Mexican Ambassadors and a veteran journalist about the changes it has sparked. 

Articles

Israel has a remarkably open immigration system for anyone who can prove Jewish ethnicity. But as this country profile explores, migration is extremely difficult for non-Jews, including asylum seekers. This article describes immigration flows under the Law of Return and examines labor migration and the rise in asylum seekers, reviewing the main challenges that have emerged within the last three decades.

 

Policy Briefs
June 2020

El acuerdo de cooperación migratoria firmado por los gobiernos de México y Estados Unidos en junio de 2019 marcó el comienzo de un intenso período de cambio en las políticas mexicanas, con efectos en su frontera compartida. Un año después, el informe examina cambios en los sistemas de control migratorio y protección humanitaria de México. También explora cómo la pandemia del COVID-19 ha afectado la frontera y destaca oportunidades para el desarrollo de políticas en el futuro.

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