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, 121 (5), 1557-1600

Why Border Enforcement Backfired

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Why Border Enforcement Backfired

Douglas S Massey et al. AJS.

Abstract

In this article we undertake a systematic analysis of why border enforcement backfired as a strategy of immigration control in the United States. We argue theoretically that border enforcement emerged as a policy response to a moral panic about the perceived threat of Latino immigration to the United States propounded by self-interested bureaucrats, politicians, and pundits who sought to mobilize political and material resources for their own benefit. The end result was a self-perpetuating cycle of rising enforcement and increased apprehensions that resulted in the militarization of the border in a way that was disconnected from the actual size of the undocumented flow. Using an instrumental variable approach, we show how border militarization affected the behavior of unauthorized migrants and border outcomes to transform undocumented Mexican migration from a circular flow of male workers going to three states into an eleven-million person population of settled families living in 50 states.

Figures

Figure 1
Figure 1
Border Patrol budget in millions of 2013 dollars
Figure 2
Figure 2
Observed probability of crossing at a traditional location and probability predicted from Border Patrol budget
Figure 3
Figure 3
Observed probability of crossing with a coyote and probability predicted from Border Patrol budget
Figure 4
Figure 4
Observed trend in coyote costs and costs predicted from Border Patrol budget and place of crossing
Figure 5
Figure 5
Observed probabilities of apprehension on first attempt and eventual entry and apprehension probability predicted from trend in Border Patrol budget
Figure 6
Figure 6
Observed deaths at the border and deaths predicted by trend in Border Patrol budget
Figure 7
Figure 7
Observed probability of first undocumented migration and probabilities predicted from trends in Border Patrol budget and average age
Figure 8
Figure 8
Observed probability of return within 12 months of first undocumented trip and probability predicted from Border Patrol budget
Figure 9
Figure 9
Simulated size of undocumented population under two scenarios

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