The New Reality of Migrant Flows at the U.S. Southwest Border
Alan Bersin and Nate Bruggeman, June 26, 2019
The United States Government made remarkable progress from the 1990s through the early 2010s (coupled with changing demographic and economic conditions in Mexico) in improving security and reducing illegal immigration at its border with Mexico. Beginning in 2014, however, the situation changed, and it has deteriorated substantially in the last year. A flood of asylum seekers from the Northern Triangle countries of Central American—Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala—have overwhelmed U.S. (and Mexican) border officials. Urgent attention is required to address a mounting crisis, requiring action across numerous policy fronts: from foreign affairs and international assistance through reform of the U.S. immigration system and asylum law to amelioration of the dismal security conditions extant in the Northern Triangle. This all amounts to a positive development: not only does the agreement take President Trump’s threatened tariffs on Mexico off the table (at least for now), these steps have the potential to modestly deter and disrupt the human smuggling networks fueling the current crisis. However, the agreement is not a comprehensive and permanent solution. It remains to be seen how the agreement is implemented, including whether Mexico has the capacity and infrastructure to deport tens of thousands of migrants let alone to care properly for an increase in Central Americans waiting in Mexico. Consistent with the original analysis of this paper and accompanying recommendations, the situation still requires urgent attention and a concerted response from the U.S. Congress and the Executive Branch. Read the full paper (PDF).