Part of this research was supported through a project administered by the Border Research and Technology Center, a program of the National Institute of Justice. Points of view or opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. The author would like to thank Ronald V. Clarke for his assistance and guidance on the project.
IMMIGRATION POLICY, BORDER SECURITY, AND MIGRANT DEATHS: AN IMPACT EVALUATION OF LIFE-SAVING EFFORTS UNDER THE BORDER SAFETY INITIATIVE†
Article first published online: 28 JUL 2007
Criminology & Public Policy
Volume 6, Issue 2, pages 245–266, May 2007
How to Cite
GUERETTE, R. T. (2007), IMMIGRATION POLICY, BORDER SECURITY, AND MIGRANT DEATHS: AN IMPACT EVALUATION OF LIFE-SAVING EFFORTS UNDER THE BORDER SAFETY INITIATIVE. Criminology & Public Policy, 6: 245–266. doi: 10.1111/j.1745-9133.2007.00433.x
- Issue published online: 28 JUL 2007
- Article first published online: 28 JUL 2007
- Migrant Death;
- Illegal Immigration Policy;
- Border Deaths;
- Border Patrol;
- Border Security
Subsequent to U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) efforts to control illegal immigration throughout the 1990s, concern arose over an apparent increase in deaths of illegal migrants as they began to undertake more treacherous routes to enter the United States from Mexico. In response, the Border Safety Initiative (BSI) was created to increase safety along the southwest border. Using multiple data sources, including the USBP BSI Incident Tracking System, this study evaluated the impact of life-saving efforts performed under the BSI program. Results indicate that there has been no overall reduction in the rate of migrant deaths since BSI has been in operation. However, an evaluation of BORSTAR search and rescue teams and the 2003 Lateral Repatriation Program (LRP), which returned apprehended migrants from Tucson sector to less hazardous places along the border, were found to be effective in preventing migrant deaths.
Critics of U.S. immigration policy claim that the only way reductions in migrant deaths along the U.S.-Mexico border can be achieved is through liberalization of immigration policy and relaxing of border security. Yet, for more than a decade, U.S. policy makers have increased restrictions on immigration and have tightened security at the borders. Considering this, alternative means must be deployed in order to save migrant lives in the near term rather than waiting for a reversal of immigration policy. This study suggests that proactive life-saving measures implemented through a harm-reduction strategy can have some impact on saving migrant lives.