People Crossing Borders: An Analysis of U.S. Border Protection Policies [May 13, 2010] [open pdf - 564KB]
"For congressional policymakers, the current state of border protection strategy presents at least three questions: (1) What does the current border protection framework consist of? (2) Is it working? and (3) Are there more effective alternatives to achieve border protection? This report addresses these three questions through two competing models for conceptualizing a border protection system, through the analysis of existing documentation and data, and through the presentation of various legislative options. [...] Analysis of available data suggests that despite some support for the viability of the current border protection approach in its present state, it is not seemingly providing sufficient deterrence to overcome labor market demand for illegal workers. Yet, definitive conclusions of effectiveness cannot be made because the current border protection operation is an incomplete version of what policymakers envisioned. The border protection framework goals are necessarily vague, as the breadth of the threats and activities at the border are wide. But these goals are rooted in the notion that a strategy based on enforcement can ultimately prevent or deter most actions that are undesirable. This assumption has been the source of much debate and continues to be the source of skepticism in certain circles. As suggested above, few conclusive claims about the effectiveness of the current border protection framework can be made. Yet, even if enforcement-only measures do provide some level of deterrence and prevention against border violations, these efforts are both costly and do not necessarily address the underlying causes of such activities. Moreover, they can have unintended consequences. This report will not be updated."
CRS Report for Congress, R41237