Rethinking the U.S.-Mexico Border Immigration Enforcement System: A Policy Road Map

Doris Meissner
Date of Publication: 
October, 2020
Source Organization: 
Migration Policy Institute

Designed to address earlier waves of single adults from Mexico, the current U.S. policy at the Mexican border is ill prepared to respond to the complex legal and ethical challenges posed by contemporary flows of families and children. In “Rethinking the U.S.-Mexico Border Immigration Enforcement System,” author Doris Meissner outlines policy proposals that would shift the immigration system away from its focus on completely stopping undocumented migrants towards one that would manage migrant flows efficiently and fairly.  Meissner argues, for example, for a re-engineering of border management through the marshaling the resources of multiple agencies. Rather than border management being the sole responsibility of national security agencies, like U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or Customs and Border Protection (CBP), there would be a one-stop screening at the border to facilitate handover to the appropriate agency, whether it be ICE, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), legal service providers, and foreign consular services.  These services would be available at a network of “reception centers” set up along the border. This system would draw from a wider range of collaborating legal, social and international agencies whose individual expertise could contribute to a more effective and humane enforcement regime. However, such a change would require a shift in the mindset regarding immigration, i.e. a willingness to accept evidence that immigration is an asset, not a threat to the United States. (Jason Boyle for The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education Institute)

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Meissner, D. (2020, October). Rethinking the U.S.-Mexico Border Immigration Enforcement System: A Policy Road Map. Migration Policy Institute.