E.g., 12/03/2020
E.g., 12/03/2020

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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An estimated 41.3 million immigrants lived in the United States in 2013, about 13 percent of the total U.S. population, constituting the world's largest foreign-born population. This Spotlight from MPI's Jie Zong and Jeanne Batalova offers the most current and sought-after data on immigrants in the United States—including origin, educational attainment, the unauthorized, deportations, and more—in one easy-to-use resource.

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.

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Video, Audio
March 14, 2011

This discussion focuses on the MPI report, "Executive Action on Immigration: Six Ways to Make the System Work Better," which outlines administrative actions that can be implemented to improve the immigration system.

Video, Audio
January 31, 2011

287(g) programs have surged into the public consciousness in recent years. Now operating in 72 jurisdictions, the 287(g) program authorizes state and local law enforcement officers to screen people for immigration status, issue detainers to hold unauthorized immigrants on immigration violations, and begin the process of their removal from the United States.

Video, Audio
October 14, 2010

Commissioner Bersin details his agenda for his agency and discusses illegal immigration, border enforcement, the impact to the economy on migration flows, the future of the Secure Border Initiative, drug trafficking, and other topics in this wide-ranging conversation with MPI Senior Fellow Doris Meissner and the audience.

Video
June 30, 2010
Testimony of Marc Rosenblum, MPI Senior Policy Analyst, before the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform.
Video
June 24, 2010
The conference, co-sponsored by Georgetown Law, Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc., and the Migration Policy Institute, focused immigration and refugee law and policy.

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Recent Activity

Articles

Hundreds of thousands of migrants and asylum seekers reached Europe via the Western Balkans route during the peak of the migration crisis. While Balkan countries initially facilitated movements northward, pressure from the European Union led to cascading border controls, which left thousands stranded in the region. This article examines the role of Balkan countries during the thick of the crisis and subsequent regional impacts.

Reports
July 2017

Mexico has apprehended more than 50,000 unaccompanied children since 2014 and introduced ambitious reforms to safeguard their rights. Yet the gap between policy and reality is wide: Most are held in adult detention centers rather than child shelters and report never being told of their right to apply for asylum. This report examines the child protection legal framework in Mexico, its implementation, and the gaps between the two.

Articles

Making good on campaign promises to toughen immigration enforcement, the Trump administration has acted swiftly to cast a wider net in the U.S. interior. The actions represent a sea change in enforcement practice, moving from a tight focus on high-priority individuals to an era in which all unauthorized immigrants may be subject to deportation. This article explores the shifts undertaken during President Trump's first six months.

Video, Audio
May 4, 2017

In the midst of efforts to further ramp up enforcement at the U.S.-Mexico border even as illegal crossings are a fraction of what they were at their peak in 2000, MPI research sketches the changing realities at the border and offers data that should help inform the policy debate. As the Trump administration and Congress consider constructing a border wall, adding thousands of Border Patrol agents, and other policies and measures, this discussion evaluates the state of the border, the effectiveness of various enforcement strategies, current trends in apprehensions and the flows of unauthoriz

Reports
May 2017

The revolving door of return migration is slowing significantly for Mexican adults deported or voluntarily returned by the U.S. government, with the number intending to attempt re-entry dropping 80 percent between 2005 and 2015. Drawing from an official survey of Mexican returnees, this report explores the years of residence repatriated Mexican adults spent in the United States, time in detention, and minor children left behind.

Reports
May 2017

In its first systematic attempt to track the effectiveness of different removal and enforcement strategies that migrants face after being apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border, the Border Patrol in fiscal 2011 launched the Consequence Delivery System (CDS). This report examines the strengths and limitations of CDS, and finds that as stricter measures have been implemented, attempted re-entries have fallen.

Articles

Amid a sense of declining welcome in the United States, growing numbers of asylum seekers have crossed into Canada in recent months, entering illegally to take advantage of a loophole in the Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement. The result? Refugee advocates and politicians in Canada are issuing growing calls to change or suspend the treaty. This article examines the treaty's history, effects, and current challenges.

Fact Sheets
April 2017

During his first 100 days in office, President Trump has taken a sweeping set of actions on immigration, ranging from imposing a travel ban to cutting refugee admissions, "extreme" vetting, and fortifying immigration enforcement at the border and in the U.S. interior. This fact sheet examines the major immigration actions taken to date, legal challenges, and related policy and personnel developments.

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