Research Paper: Illegal Mexican Migration and the United States/Mexico Border: The Effects of Operation Hold the Line on El Paso/Juárez   [open pdf - 645KB]

On September 19, 1993, Silvestre Reyes, the Chief of the El Paso Sector of the Border Patrol of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service [INS], launched Operation Blockade along a twenty-mile stretch of the U.S./Mexico border between El Paso and Juárez. Renamed Operation Hold the Line three weeks later, the initiative represented an effort to cut off illegal migration from Mexico into El Paso. This examination of Operation Hold the Line seeks to assess its effects on both illegal and legal crossings, as well as to discern the implications of various policy options concerning both legal and illegal immigration and non-immigrant crossings at the U.S. / Mexico border. Methodologically, this research relies on both quantitative and qualitative evidence to develop an assessment of the Operation. The paper is organized into nine chapters. After the introduction, the second chapter describes Operation Hold the Line. The third examines evidence about the curtailment of flows as indicated by border crossing and apprehensions data. The fourth examines effects on business and economic activity, and the fifth analyzes effects on education, births, and social services. The sixth presents an examination of the effects of the Operation on crime rates and other indicators of illegal or disruptive behaviors. The seventh details effects on community and public opinion. The eighth focuses on the Operation's consequences for Juárez and the people living there. The final chapter provides an overall assessment of the Operation's effects, together with discussion of the implications of the study's findings for immigration and border crossing issues.

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