This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

If you are a user of my textbook and would like to suggest a blog post idea, please email me at: john.weeks@sdsu.edu

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Look Who's Crossing the Border Now

A few years ago, I and my colleagues Justin Stoler and Piotr Jankowski published an article titled "Who’s Crossing the Border: New Data on Undocumented Immigrants to the United States." Under an agreement with the Border Patrol, we had been provided access to data that allowed us to calculate the number of unduplicated persons being apprehended at the US-Mexico border, so that we could analyze the origins in Mexico of those crossing the border. Indeed, 92% of the apprehensions in our data covering the 1999-2006 period were from Mexico. That picture is very different now than it was then. Data just released by the Department of Homeland Security and reviewed by the Pew Research Center for Fiscal year 2014 (remember that the government fiscal year goes from 1 October through 30 September), show that for the first time ever since numbers have been kept, Mexicans are not the majority among those being apprehended. More than half (53%) were from somewhere else, largely from Central America. To be sure, a plurality were from Mexico, but if data from FY 2013 are an indication, the leading other sending countries are, in order, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.



For the past several years, the proportion of apprehensions that were not from Mexico has been steadily increasing, while at the same time the number of apprehensions (and presumably then the number of undocumented border crossers) has been steadily declining. Some of this is certainly due to tighter border security. The indirect evidence for this is that over the years, as border security has tightened in each successive place from west to east, the number of apprehensions has increased in the adjacent areas. Thus, tightening in San Diego pushed up apprehensions in Arizona. Then, tightening in Arizona pushed up apprehensions in south Texas. But the shift in origin is almost certainly due to factors taking place in the sending countries. Mexico's birth rate has declined steadily and its economy has improved (and those two things probably go together), while the increasing violence in Central America--associated especially with drug and gang violence--has sent an increasing number of people north. Of course, it doesn't help that birth rates are still fairly high in those countries and their economies are not very good (and those two things probably go together).


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