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Irregular Migration | Mexico |

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Irregular Migration

David Fitzgerald

/ 2 Minuten zu lesen

The Border Patrol began an intensive buildup of agents and control infrastructure along the border with Operation "Hold the Line" in El Paso in 1993 and Operation "Gatekeeper" in San Diego in 1994.

The border enforcement budget increased 600 percent from 1993 to 2006, allowing the Border Patrol to increase its number of agents from about 4000 to 12,350 over the same period. New fencing and sophisticated surveillance systems have been added to the border amid enthusiasm for increased enforcement from both Republicans and Democrats in Congress. The "Minutemen" vigilante group has also conducted widely publicized efforts on small stretches of the border since 2005 to make a symbolic stance against illegal migration by reporting unauthorized crossers to the Border Patrol.

There is strong evidence that the major effect of enforcement efforts has not been to deter unauthorized migrants, but rather, to unleash a series of unintended consequences. The fees migrants pay coyotes (people smugglers) have increased from several hundred dollars to about $2500 as mom-and-pop coyote operations have become sophisticated networks of operatives on both sides of the border using safe houses, tunnels, falsified papers, and other expensive techniques to move their clients. Concentrated border enforcement in urban areas has indirectly caused the death of an average of one migrant a day as entrants seek to circumvent these fortifications by crossing wilderness areas and rivers and canals with an elevated risk of dying from exposure or drowning. The greatest paradox is that the border policy has bottled up unauthorized migrants in the United States once they have crossed. Unauthorized migrants are increasingly likely to stay in the United States for long periods to pay off the debts they incurred to coyotes and avoid the physical risks and high costs of multiple border crossings. The Department of Homeland Security estimates that between 2000 and 2006, the number of unauthorized Mexican immigrants grew from 4.7 to 6.6 million. Studies conducted in source communities tell the same story of failed deterrence. Among migrants interviewed in a 2005 survey of a traditional migrant sending community in the state of Jalisco, 92 percent of those who were apprehended at least once on their most recent trip to the border eventually were able to gain entry, without returning to their place of origin. Among those interviewed in a 2006 survey in a rural community in the state of Yucatán, 97 percent of those apprehended on their most recent trip were able to enter successfully on the second or third try.

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