Document Type

Honors Project

Abstract

The question of how borders are defined and enforced has always been an important issue both to the state and to residents between whom make and must deal with those decisions. This project examines El Paso, Texas as a case study for shaping a more progressive future for border and immigration enforcement. It does so by reporting on 16 interviews with key actors in border policy discussions. El Paso offers an excellent opportunity to study how border and immigration enforcement approaches are negotiated between scales, including federal enforcement agencies, state government, city and county officials, and community activists. Immigration enforcement has been marked by massive increases in manpower, technology, and resources over the past 15 years, yet have failed to stem the tide of migration and resulted in the deaths of thousands of persons. This presents a particular challenge to border communities hosting both enforcers and undocumented migrants, and that are the main place where the impacts of border enforcement are felt, a challenge heightened by devolutionary movement of immigration enforcement to local actors. The project focuses particularly on the possibilities and challenges for community groups to harness the devolution of responsibility for immigration enforcement as a means of projecting border voices into the national debate. While still marginalized, it appears that the prospect for border involvement in progressive reform is strong.

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