E.g., 10/01/2020
E.g., 10/01/2020

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

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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Recent Activity

Reports
March 2017

This Transatlantic Council Statement explores the integration questions that the recent refugee and migration crisis in Europe has brought to the fore and their effect on broader governance structures for managing migration. As the immediate pressures have abated, policymakers have refocused their energies on preventing the next crisis and ensuring that newcomers—and the communities in which they settle—have the tools to thrive.

Articles

In 2015, 43.3 million immigrants lived in the United States, comprising 13.5 percent of the population. The foreign-born population grew more slowly than in prior years, up 2 percent from 2014. Get sought-after data on U.S. immigration trends, including top countries of origin, Mexican migration, refugee admissions, illegal immigration, health-care coverage, and much more in this Spotlight article.

Articles

Two significant migration shifts at the U.S.-Mexico border have been obscured by talk of walls and further border security: Mexicans no longer represent the top unauthorized crossers, replaced by Central Americans seeking protection, and flows are diversifying with increased arrivals of Cubans, Haitians, Asians, and Africans. This article sketches the evolving trends, which have key implications for U.S. and regional migration policy.

Commentaries
February 2017

Eager to emulate the success of an EU-Turkey deal that has helped sharply reduce crossings into Greece, the European Union is exploring similar partnerships with transit countries along the North African coastline. But as this commentary explores, these prospective deals with Libya and other governments may be built upon unstable foundations and come with inherent complexities, possible risks for North African partners, and moral and other hazards for the European Union.

Audio
January 27, 2017

In the year since the Valletta Summit, the European Union and Member State governments have ramped up cooperation with origin, transit, and hosting countries, yet questions remain over how effective these partnerships have been and how far they can be reasonably be pursued. This webinar is a discussion on longer-term interventions the European Union may pursue to find solutions for asylum seekers, including cooperation with other countries on migration management.  

Articles

President Obama faced criticism over his administration's handling of immigration enforcement from both the left and the right, labeled "deporter in chief" even as he was also accused of lax enforcement. A closer examination of his administration's record paints a more nuanced picture. This article explores how immigration enforcement practices shifted to achieve two key goals over the course of the Obama era.

Reports
January 2017

While territorial asylum—the principle that a refugee must reach the territory of a host country in order to lodge a protection claim—has become the dominant response to refugee outflows, it does not provide an easy solution for sudden influxes. Amid record global displacement, this report considers whether there are viable alternatives to territorial asylum, and explores how they might be implemented.

Commentaries
January 2017

The Obama administration has taken a bold action to end the decades-old "wet foot, dry foot" policies that have for too long drawn Cubans to the United States in dangerous ways and sizeable numbers. The time has come when building a more normal U.S.-Cuba relationship must include updating migration and immigration policies to reflect today's realities, as this commentary by MPI Senior Fellow Doris Meissner explains.

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