FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Why Border Police Don’t Deter Migrants

The Border Patrol apprehended twice as many unaccompanied minors trying to enter the United States this year as they did last year. In response to this surge in the apprehension of unaccompanied minors, President Obama is requesting $4 billion from Congress. These funds will be used on new Border Patrol agents, immigration judges, aerial surveillance, and new detention facilities – all designed to speed up deportations of people caught at the border.

Spending $4 billion more on enforcement will not alleviate the situation.

Pouring money into border enforcement has never been successful at deterring the flow of migrants. Professor Wayne Cornelius – who has studied this issue for decades – contends that “tightened border enforcement since 1993 has not stopped nor even discouraged unauthorized migrants from entering the United States.”

Speeding up deportations does nothing to address the root causes of this surge in the arrival of unaccompanied minors from Central America. These youth are fleeing violence and instability in their home countries. If we don’t address these issues, these youth will continue to come.

The United States government is already spending unprecedented amounts of money on immigration law enforcement: the total budget authority for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is $60 billion – one fifth of which goes to Customs and Border Patrol (CBP). Another $4 billion will not make CBP more effective unless there is a fundamental shift in policy.

More funding means more agents and more technology. DHS funds have been used to place increasing numbers of CBP agents along the border. There were over 18,000 CBP agents along the US-Mexico border in 2013, as compared to 2,500 in 1993. The number of agents has increased fairly consistently since 1993, even during those years when fewer migrants were attempting to enter the United States. This constant uptick in the number of CBP agents has made the agency more powerful, but has done little to stem the flow of migrants.

There is little correlation between the number of CBP agents along the border and the number of migrants apprehended. Instead, apprehensions are related to the number of people trying to enter. When a lot of migrants attempt to enter, CBP apprehends a lot of people. When fewer migrants attempt to enter, they capture fewer. These apprehensions also track well with economic changes – when unemployment is low, more people try to enter the United States. When there are no jobs, fewer migrants attempt to enter.

The economic recession in the United States and the accompanying high unemployment rates have meant that fewer people are trying to get into this country. This is evidenced by the fact that there were four times as many apprehensions in 2000 as there were last year. In fact, the 400,000 CBP apprehensions in the Southwest sector last year were the lowest they have been since 1974. With border apprehensions the lowest they have been in 40 years, why would anyone advocate for more CBP agents?

It is true that there are more unaccompanied Central American children crossing the border since 2011 than there have been in years past, yet overall border apprehensions are at a historic low. And, border enforcement spending must be understood in this larger context.

Central Americans have been migrating the United States in large numbers since the United States began meddling intensely in the affairs of their countries in the latter decades of the twentieth century.

Increases in the number of agents along the border does not deter migration. Instead, it makes the passage more difficult and dangerous for those migrants that are determined to enter. If we want to protect children, enhancing the number of CBP agents is a terrible idea.

Processing these 40,000 children requires special resources – both because they are children and because many of them are not from Mexico – where they can be more easily sent back. However, the solution is to develop new and better policies – not to throw more money at border enforcement. It seems hard to believe that an agency that apprehended 1.6 million people in 2000 with half the agents it has today needs additional funding in order to do its job.

There were 1.6 million CBP apprehensions along the US-Mexico border in 2000, when there were 8,5000 agents stationed along that border. Last year, we had 18,000 CBP agents along the border and there were 400,000 apprehensions – of which 40,000 were Central American children. In 2013, the average CBP agent apprehended 22 unauthorized migrants. This is compared to over 300 apprehensions per CBP agent in 1996. With these data, it is hard to make a case for more agents. Instead, it seems it is time to cut back.

A much more viable – and affordable – solution is to place the children in alternative-to-detention programs and provide them with a safe haven while the United States and Central American countries work together to develop solutions to the root causes of this rise in the emigration of children. President Obama could also grant refugee status to these children – a viable option under current laws.

The arrival of 40,000 unaccompanied children in the United States is not the crisis. The crisis is the decision to place these children behind bars, which is a clear violation of international human rights laws. The crisis is also the conditions that drove these children to leave their countries. These are the crises that demand our attention.

Tanya Golash-Boza is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Merced. She is the author of: Race and Racisms: A Critical ApproachYo Soy Negro Blackness in PeruImmigration Nation: Raids, Detentions and Deportations in Post-9/11 Americaand Due Process Denied: Detentions and Deportations in the United States. She blogs at: http://stopdeportationsnow.blogspot.com

More articles by:

Tanya Golash-Boza is the author of: Yo Soy Negro Blackness in PeruImmigration Nation: Raids, Detentions and Deportations in Post-9/11 Americaand Due Process Denied: Detentions and Deportations in the United States. Her new book Deported: Immigrant Policing, Disposable Labor, and Global Capitalism will be published by NYU Press in 2015.

July 15, 2020
Jennifer Loewenstein
Forging Greater Israel: Annexation by Any Other Name
John Davis
This is No Way to Live
Melvin Goodman
Bolton’s Book is Not the “Bomb” as Advertised
Kenneth Surin
Boris Johnson’s “Blundering Brilliance”…Now Only the Blundering Remains
Daniel Warner
Audacity and Hope in the Summer of Discontent
Thomas Klikauer – Nadine Campbell
Propaganda Beyond Trump
Omar Ramahi
Hagia Sophia and the Catastrophe of Symbolism
Binoy Kampmark
The Yeezy Effect: Kanye West Joins the Presidential Race
Robin Wonsley – Ty Moore
Minneapolis Ballot Measure to Dismantle the Police Will Test the Strength of Our Movement
Robert Jensen
‘Cancel Culture’ Cannot Erase a Strong Argument
Tom Clifford
Jack Charlton, Soccer and Ireland’s Working Class
Elliot Sperber
Mother Goose in the End Times
July 14, 2020
Anthony DiMaggio
Canceling the Cancel Culture: Enriching Discourse or Dumbing it Down?
Patrick Cockburn
Boris Johnson Should not be Making New Global Enemies When His Country is in a Shambles
Frank Joyce
Lift From the Bottom? Yes.
Richard C. Gross
The Crackdown on Foreign Students
Steven Salaita
Should We Cancel “Cancel Culture”?
Paul Street
Sorry, the Chicago Blackhawks Need to Change Their Name and Logo
Jonathan Cook
‘Cancel Culture’ Letter is About Stifling Free Speech, Not Protecting It
John Feffer
The Global Rushmore of Autocrats
C. Douglas Lummis
Pillar of Sand in Okinawa
B. Nimri Aziz
Soft Power: Americans in Its Grip at Home Must Face the Mischief It Wields by BNimri Aziz July 11/2020
Cesar Chelala
What was lost when Ringling Bros. Left the Circus
Dan Bacher
California Regulators Approve 12 New Permits for Chevron to Frack in Kern County
George Wuerthner
Shrinking Wilderness in the Gallatin Range
Lawrence Davidson
Woodrow Wilson’s Racism: the Basis For His Support of Zionism
Binoy Kampmark
Mosques, Museums and Politics: the Fate of Hagia Sophia
Dean Baker
Propaganda on Government Action and Inequality from David Leonhardt
July 13, 2020
Gerald Sussman
The Russiagate Spectacle: Season 2?
Ishmael Reed
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Perry Mason Moment
Jack Rasmus
Why the 3rd Quarter US Economic ‘Rebound’ Will Falter
W. T. Whitney
Oil Comes First in Peru, Not Coronavirus Danger, Not Indigenous Rights
Ralph Nader
The Enduring Case for Demanding Trump’s Resignation
Raghav Kaushik – Arun Gupta
On Coronavirus and the Anti-Police-Brutality Uprising
Deborah James
Digital Trade Rules: a Disastrous New Constitution for the Global Economy Written by and for Big Tech
Howard Lisnoff
Remembering the Nuclear Freeze Movement and Its Futility
Sam Pizzigati
Will the Biden-Sanders Economic Task Force Rattle the Rich?
Allen Baker
Trump’s Stance on Foreign College Students Digs US Economic Hole Even Deeper
Binoy Kampmark
The Coronavirus Seal: Victoria’s Borders Close
Evaggelos Vallianatos
Power, Knowledge and Virtue
Weekend Edition
July 10, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Lynnette Grey Bull
Trump’s Postcard to America From the Shrine of Hypocrisy
Anthony DiMaggio
Free Speech Fantasies: the Harper’s Letter and the Myth of American Liberalism
David Yearsley
Morricone: Maestro of Music and Image
Jeffrey St. Clair
“I Could Live With That”: How the CIA Made Afghanistan Safe for the Opium Trade
Rob Urie
Democracy and the Illusion of Choice
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail