WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas

Alternatives to a Costly Border Buildup

Over the past 30 years, U.S. governments have built nearly 800 miles of border walls and quintupled the size of Border Patrol—whose parent agency, Customs and Border Protection, suffers from weak oversight and a culture that is very tolerant of abuse. During that time, the profile of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border has changed radically: agents are now at least as likely to encounter an asylum seeker needing protection as they are to encounter an economic migrant seeking to avoid arrest. With the Trump administration out of power, we must seize the opportunity to update and reform U.S. border management, addressing chronic problems like asylum capacity, resistance to accountability, migrant deaths on U.S. soil, civil liberties and racial profiling, and relations with Mexican security and migration forces. WOLA examines the impact of border security spending in the United States and proposes alternative policies aligned with border communities’ actual needs and priorities. We also monitor the U.S.-backed security efforts at Mexico’s southern border.