Cornelius, W. A. “Death at the border: Efficacy and unintended consequences of US immigration control policy”. Population and development review, 27(4), (2001). 661-685.

migrant deaths along the us-mexican border

Caption: Migrant Deaths Along US-Mexico Border Reach 200 in 2018.(Bob Price/Breitbart Texas)

I came across this photo on google images, and it is originally from an article on migrant deaths along the US-Mexico border published by Breitbart News Network. I chose this photo because it shows the corpse of a migrant which was found by the U.S. Border Patrol, it illustrates exactly the consequences of the border security policy Cornelius talks about.

In this article, Cornelius brings to light the consequences that a stricter U.S border control policy has on the lives of thousands of illegal immigrants from Mexico and Central America. In 1993 the Clinton administration decided to “get serious” about the immigration issue in the southern border with Mexico. This led to a series of policies that resulted in the increase of the Immigration and Naturalization Service budget that reached 5.5 billion in 2002. After a study was conducted regarding new methods to increase border security, the border patrol was recommended to focus on deterring illegal entries rather than trying to apprehend them at the border. This new strategy called for: increase in border patrol agents, high intensity lighting, ten-foot-high steel fencing, motion detecting sensors, mobile infrared night scopes, and remote video surveillance systems. These new technologies were compacted in major urban crossing areas such as Tijuana and Mexicali, effectively re-channeling the flow of illegal immigrants. Cornelius points out that immigrants were now forced to cross the border at geographically isolated dangerous locations such as Rio Grande, and the mountains and deserts of Arizona and California. Unfortunately starting in 1994 an increase of environmental related migrant deaths skyrocketed, these include deaths by dehydration, hypothermia, heat stroke, and drowning. Cornelius concludes that there is not enough evidence to support the notion that the policy of deterring immigrants is actually reducing illegal entries.

Wayne A. Cornelius is a political scientist that has focused his research on comparative migration and Mexican politics. He is known for founding the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies at the University of California San Diego and for contributing tremendously to the research on Mexican immigration. In this article, Cornelius did a tremendous job of  addressing not only how re-channeling immigrant flows causes increased deaths at the border, but also how it effects the coyote (human smuggler) price per trip, which is interesting to see that it increased by hundreds of dollars yet immigrants were still willing to pay to get to the United States. Cornelius used various geographical maps attained from the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation, that depict the re-channeling inflow of immigrants from urban areas like Tijuana and San Diego towards desolate geographical regions including desert and mountains between California and Arizona. These maps show the locations of migrant death , which really puts into perspective how big the problem is and hopefully motivates the American public to plead for a change in policy.

This article will prove tremendously useful for the course and my groups dossier on Latin American migration. When one thinks about border security, the subject of human rights doesn’t necessarily come to mind. But after reading this article, Cornelius points out the unforeseen, harsh border security can lead to human suffering and even death. So as we delve deeper into research on migration and human rights, I will use this article as a point of reference and ask the necessary questions. Which policies regarding immigration are seen as a violation of human rights? How can we prevent them?

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