Massive Spending, Limited Impact, and Humanitarian Crisis
WASHINGTON, April 19, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) and Mexico's College of the Northern Border (COLEF) released "Beyond the Border Buildup: Security and Migrants along the U.S.-Mexico Border," a year-long study on the impact of both countries' security policies on migration.
The study finds a dramatic buildup of U.S. security forces along the southern border—a fivefold increase of the Border Patrol in the last decade, an unusual new role for U.S. soldiers on U.S. soil, drones and other high-tech surveillance, plus hundreds of miles of completed fencing—without a clear impact on security. For instance, the study finds that despite the security buildup, more drugs are crossing than ever before.
The study reveals that security policies that were designed to combat terrorism and drug trafficking are causing a humanitarian crisis and putting migrants in increasing danger.
Migrants are often subject to abuse and mistreatment while in U.S. custody, and face higher risks of death in the desert. Also, certain deportation practices put migrants at risk. For example, migrants can be deported at night and/or to cities hundreds of miles from where they were detained. These same cities are also some of the border region's most dangerous, where migrants may fall prey to—or be recruited by—criminal groups. In Mexico, approximately 20,000 migrants are kidnapped a year; many others face other abuses. "Decency demands more humane policies," said Maureen Meyer, WOLA analyst and co-author of the study.
In addition, "We have reached a point where any further increase in security will yield diminishing returns," said Meyer. Contrary to common opinion, the report documents a sharp drop in migrant crossings. Since 2005, the number of migrants apprehended by the Border Patrol has plummeted by 61 percent, to levels not seen since Richard Nixon was president. Today, 20 migrants are apprehended per border patrol agent per year, down from 300 in 1992.
The study finds that violence in Mexico is not spilling over. The U.S. side of the border suffers less violent crimes than the national average, or even the averages of the border states.
"The facts contradict the call to escalate security along the border," said Adam Isacson, WOLA analyst and the study's co-author. "The whirlwind security buildup should stop now," said Isacson.
SOURCE Washington Office on Latin America