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Border Enforcement

Bordering on Criminal: The Routine Abuse of Migrants in the Removal System

This three-part series highlights the findings of the Migrant Border Crossing Study—a binational, multi-institution study of 1,110 randomly selected, recently repatriated migrants surveyed in six Mexican cities between 2009 and 2012. The study exposes widespread mistreatment of migrants at the hands of U.S. officials in the removal system.

Part I: Migrant Mistreatment While in U.S. Custody

This report focuses on the mistreatment of unauthorized migrants while in U.S. custody. Overall, we find that the physical and verbal mistreatment of migrants is not a random, sporadic occurrence but, rather, a systematic practice. One indication of this is that 11% of deportees report some form of physical abuse and 23% report verbal mistreatment while in U.S. custody—a finding that is supported by other academic studies and reports from non-governmental organizations. Another highly disturbing finding is that migrants often note they are the targets for nationalistic and racist remarks—something that in no way is integral to U.S. officials’ ability to function in an effective capacity on a day-to-day basis. Read more...

Published On: Tue, Dec 10, 2013

The Cost of Doing Nothing

Dollars, Lives, and Opportunities Lost in the Wait for Immigration Reform

Immigration reform is a topic that has been heavily debated in Congress over the past year. While that debate led to passage of a comprehensive immigration reform bill in the Senate (S. 744), the leadership of the House of Representatives has yet to put immigration legislation on the floor. This state of affairs is fine with those congressional representatives who seem to think that merely talking about immigration is enough. And if Congress were a debating society, perhaps talking would be sufficient. But Congress is entrusted with a far greater responsibility: passing laws that matter. This is particularly true in the case of immigration reform, which has such enormous humanitarian and economic implications. Further delay on immigration reform, especially when there is broad public support for reform, wastes not just time, but money and lives as well.Read more...

Published On: Mon, Sep 23, 2013 | Download File

An Unlikely Couple: The Similar Approaches to Border Enforcement in H.R. 1417 and S. 744

The House of Representatives and the Senate have embarked upon very different paths when it comes to immigration reform. On June 27, the Senate passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill—S. 744 (the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act)—that seeks to revamp practically every dysfunctional component of the U.S. immigration system. The House leadership, on the other hand, favors a piecemeal approach in which a series of immigration bills are passed, each addressing a different aspect of the larger immigration system. To date, the most popular of these piecemeal bills has been H.R. 1417 (the Border Security Results Act), which was passed unanimously on May 15 by the House Committee on Homeland Security. H.R. 1417 is, in marked contrast to S. 744, an enforcement-only bill which does not acknowledge the existence of any other component of immigration reform.

Nevertheless, the border-enforcement provisions of S. 744 aren’t all that different from those contained within H.R. 1417. Both bills share the arbitrary and possibly unworkable goals of “operational control” (a 90 percent deterrence rate) and 100 percent “situational awareness” along the entire southwest border. The Senate bill also added insult to injury in the form of the Corker-Hoeven (“border surge”) amendment, which seeks to micromanage border-security operations and would gratuitously appropriate tens of billions of dollars in additional funding, and hire tens of thousands of additional Border Patrol agents, before the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has even determined what resource and staffing levels are needed to do the job.Read more...

Published On: Wed, Jul 24, 2013 | Download File

Lost in the Shadow of the Fence

The Important Economic Relationship of Mexico and the United States

Mexico is the United States’ third largest trading partner, after Canada and China, in terms of total trade in goods, while the U.S. is Mexico’s largest trading partner. As such, the economic ties of the U.S. and Mexico are significantly important to the economy and society in both countries. Further, the U.S.-Mexico border is not a static line drawn on a map, but a dynamic and ever-evolving place along which substantial daily interaction takes place. Yet the resounding refrain we repeatedly hear from some members of Congress is that building a 1,969-mile fence to separate us from one of our largest economic partners, and the eleventh largest economy in the world, is a key component to solving the issues presented by an outdated immigration system and a requirement that must be completed before moving forward with proposed immigration reforms. To be clear, there is a need for secure borders, but there is also a need for further streamlining and efficiently facilitating the daily cross-border flows of people, goods, and services important to the bi-national economic relationship of the United States and Mexico – an economic relationship the following facts highlight.

The United States and Mexico have an enormous trading partnershipRead more...

Published On: Thu, May 09, 2013 | Download File

The Fallacy of "Enforcement First"

Immigration Enforcement Without Immigration Reform Has Been Failing for Decades

Opponents of a new legalization program for unauthorized immigrants living and working in the United States frequently claim that we must try “enforcement first.” That is to say, we must adequately enforce the laws on the books before we can contemplate the formulation of more reasonable laws. This stance is nonsensical for two reasons. First of all, it ignores the fact that the unworkable nature of our immigration laws is itself facilitating unauthorized immigration; so it is illogical to hope that stronger enforcement of those unworkable laws will somehow lessen unauthorized immigration. Secondly, the “enforcement first” perspective conveniently overlooks the fact that the United States has been pursuing an “enforcement first” approach to immigration control for more than two-and-a-half decades—and it has yet to work.Read more...

Published On: Thu, May 09, 2013 | Download File

Border Patrol Agents as Interpreters Along the Northern Border: Unwise Policy, Illegal Practice

By Lisa Graybill

Advocates along the Northern Border report a recent, sharp increase in the use of U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) agents to provide interpretation services to state and local law enforcement officers and emergency responders. This most often occurs when an officer or responder encounters an individual who does not speak English and proactively reaches out to USBP for assistance. But it has also occurred when USBP agents respond to an incident report in lieu of, or in addition to, local law enforcement officers. In other cases, USBP agents have reportedly begun responding to 911 emergency assistance calls, especially if the caller is known or perceived not to speak English. Much of this activity appears to have been precipitated by the fact that the U.S.-Canada border has undergone a dramatic transformation, including an influx of newly assigned USBP agents.

Immigrants, their advocates, and community members are reporting—and official statistics confirm—that there are simply too many USBP agents on the ground, apparently with too much time on their hands, who lack adherence to stated priorities.

This special report by Lisa Graybill for the Immigration Policy Center lays out the problems with border patrol agents serving as translators and make recommendations intended to promote Title VI compliance, maintain the integrity of the USBP mission on the Northern Border, and protect the rights of immigrants and their families who call the Northern Border home.

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Published On: Tue, Sep 25, 2012 | Download File

How to Fix a Broken Border: A Three Part Series

In this three part series, former Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard assesses current threats to our border security and calls for a coordinated, multi-dimensional, bi-national approach to cracking down on cartels. Goddard's suggestions for federal action include targeting cartel money, closing money-laundering loopholes, pursuing cartel leaders, and focusing border security on ports of entry.

Download the Executive SummaryRead more...

Published On: Thu, May 17, 2012

The Border: A Resource Page

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Published On: Fri, May 04, 2012

Authority of U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agents: An Overview

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) was established in 2003 as an arm of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). It combined agents from the U.S. Customs Service, the former Immigration and Naturalization Service and agricultural inspectors, who monitor the ports of entry, and the U.S. Border Patrol, who monitor the area between ports of entry. Today, CBP is the largest law enforcement agency within DHS, with more than 58,000 employees. As federal officers, CBP agents may only exercise the authority granted under federal statutes and regulations. This fact sheet provides a snapshot of search, interrogation, and arrest powers currently authorized under the law. Read more...

Published On: Thu, Feb 23, 2012 | Download File

Fiscally Irresponsible: Immigration Enforcement without Reform Wastes Taxpayer Dollars

Many political pundits, GOP presidential aspirants, and Members of Congress want to have it both ways when it comes to federal spending on immigration. On the one hand, there is much talk about the need for fiscal austerity, and a Congressional “super-committee” is currently working on slashing federal spending in order to reduce the deficit. On the other hand, even though the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) just announced a record high number of deportations, some still want to increase federal spending on immigration enforcement; putting more Border Patrol boots on the ground, completing the border fence, and deploying an array of high-tech gadgetry. However, they miss one very important fact: piling on more immigration enforcement without immigration reform is a practical and fiscal dead-end. Read more...

Published On: Wed, Oct 19, 2011 | Download File