LatinaLista — A new report, “Controlling Unauthorized Immigration from Mexico: The Failure of ‘Prevention through Deterrence’ and the Need for Comprehensive Reform,” was released today by academic researchers at the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies (CCIS) at the University of California—San Diego.
University of California student researcher conducts survey with Mexican citizen.
Researchers targeted four specific states in Mexico who lead the country as sources of origin for US migrants. One area, Oaxaca, was the field site of the most recent and extensive research where the report’s authors found that the desire of coming to the United States was not diminished by stricter enforcement at the border.
In fact, the study reinforced independent observations about the effectiveness of current border enforcement — it’s not entirely working.
However, the study did reveal some interesting insights that are so often overlooked in any report done on the issue of illegal immigration — the immigrants’ feelings.
Their feelings are the key to what motivates them to risk their lives in coming to the US illegally, of making the hard decision to stay amid worksite raids and ICE apprehensions and claiming a foreign country as their new home that has made it clear it doesn’t want them.
In the report, the authors conducted field interviews with Mexican immigrants and touched on the heart of what drives this explosive issue.
Though jobs, of course, remain the main objective for undocumented immigrants, it has now evolved to include another element that wasn’t as predominant before the US got tough at the border — family reunification.
Researchers found that because of risks and the costs of traveling back and forth across the border, once people arrived, they stayed. Being a family-oriented culture, the separation of family members can be a debilitatingly depressing experience, regardless of which side of the border the family members live on, the need to reunify takes precedent, especially when poverty exists on one side of the border and the potential for income on the other.
Because there is less traveling back and forth across the border by these migrants, it leads to the natural decline of apprehensions along the border. So, in essence, claims made that the border fence and/or border security is solely responsible for the decline in apprehensions is false.
There’s a decline because the numbers that use to travel back and forth are not there anymore.
Also, contrary to what is said by illegal immigration critics, these migrants do not want to be in the country illegally. Those surveyed in the report said they would most seriously come to the US in a bracero-type workers program.
Another interesting revelation is that despite all the bad things the public hears about “human smugglers” or coyotes used by the migrants to smuggle them across the border, more and more migrants, 80%, are depending on such opportunists to get here.
What is more surprising is that they are paying them over $2,000 for transport into the US.
It’s a hefty amount of cash that families are willing to pay to get their loved ones on this side of the border and it underscores the fiscal attributes of these people that they can save their hard-earned money.
Yet, the final element of this report statistically shows that those undocumented migrants who are in school have a much higher likelihood of dropping out than those migrants who are documented — it makes sense.
But what doesn’t make sense is that the presumption is that it’s because these students lack their papers and know they can’t get jobs once they graduate that they feel school is a waste of time — especially when they go and get jobs once they drop out anyway.
Documentation is a big factor in a migrant student’s success in school, but it’s not the only one. It’s also the attitude of the student and his family, if they are with him/her, towards the importance of an education versus work.
The report clarified what many in the immigrant advocacy realm already knew but it’s these kinds of reports that need to be dissected and bullet-point listed so those that don’t get it have one less excuse when they parrot misinformation and characterize undocumented migrants as numbers instead of individuals.