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The US Mexico Border Problem Analytical Essay

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Updated: Aug 28th, 2019


Koslowski (2009) observed that one unresolved question among the scholars of international relations revolves around the increase in cross-border migration and the resultant impacts on national and international security. The threat of migration and human mobility has become real and is closely linked to the broadening issue of cross-national security across the globe. The study of human migration right from the pre-world war period reveal a substantial number of push and pull factors.

Therefore, it can be argued that migration is a complex exercise and the issue of security is one of the main impacts of human migration, especially at the international level where populations migrate from one country to the other. The issue of security as it appertains to international migration is quite elusive. It revolves around the pressure that comes with the immigration of populations into a certain state.

Therefore, migration forms a pertinent question of the political agenda of most of the states that are affected by the contemporary migratory trends that are being witnessed in the world today. One critical thing to note about human migration in the contemporary global environment is that migration, whether legal or illegal, is one of the factors that promote human insecurity across the globe.

An example that can be adopted is the September 11 2001 terrorist attack in the United States that was pulled by the volunteer terrorists travelling in the plane (Tirman 2004). This has resulted in the new security agenda concerning the manner in which different attributes of intelligence can be deployed in international migration to minimize the issue of insecurity that comes with migration.

This paper explores the issue cross-border migration as one of the key factors of insecurity. The paper focuses on the cross-border problem between the United States and Mexico. Of greater essence in the paper is the discussion about the intelligence tactics that are used to solve the issue of illegal migration in the border between the United States and Mexico; that is, the physical wall between the two countries.

Mexico- United States border problem

According to Danelo (2008), the border between the United States and Mexico is one of the most insecure places in the entire region of North America. Romero (2008) observed that this is one of the long-held conflicts that involve a developed and a developing state. The geographical proximity together with the long standing variations in the economic and social statuses between the United States and Mexico results in the mobility pressure in the borders of the two counties.

A large part of the United States borders Mexico; therefore, the prevalence of the physical border is a leading factor as far as mobility between the two countries is in question (Romero, 2008). The problem was still comprehended from the perspective of weaknesses in law enforcement at the borders towards the end of the 20th century.

However, the contemporary developments at the borders denote a myriad of factors, most of which point at the weakness in economic, social and security structures. The undocumented immigration between the United States and Mexico continues to pose a threat on the potential of mutual cooperation in solving international security problems (Payan 2006).

The conflict in the region is characterized by the fight for routes by drug cartels in Mexico, who keep seeking means of smuggling the drugs into the United States. The conflicts have dragged for many years, resulting in the argument by a substantial number of analysts of international security that the conflict is far much from ending because of the conditions that prevail in Mexico.

The production of drugs in Mexico is a big problem, with the drug cartels having spread their activities in the country to the level that they overwhelm the capacity of the security organs in the country to stop them (Mendoza & St. John, 2012). Approximately 2500 drug related deaths were reported at several borders in the year 2008. This figure only represents the real deaths without the precedent number of casualties resulting from the events culminating into the deaths.

Most of the deaths come from the battle between the drug smugglers and the authorities at the borders (Walters 2006). A number of systematic events are imminent at the borders. They include intimidation of civilians and security personnel, bribery and assassinations.

This implies the worsened state of security at the borders and the increase in lawless acts, which denote the barrier to the law enforcement agencies at the border from conducting their duties. What denotes the worsening status of insecurity at the borders is the substantial number of law enforcement officers who are killed at the borders (Danelo 2008).

The question that needs to be answered concerning the state of security decay at the United States Mexico border is whether a cooperative relationship has been developed by the two countries in order to help attain mutual solutions to the push and pull factors of migratory factors.

According to Romero (2008), the border problems between the United States and Mexico are only viewed through the myopic lens of illegal movement of Mexicans into the United States. Here, the implication is that a set of other factors like the economic status of the Mexicans and other factors are ignored while devising solutions to the border problem (Mendoza & St. John, 2012).

From the developments that have been witnessed over the 2000 decade, it is evident that the problem is larger than it is assumed and cannot be effectively dealt with by the virtue of security deployment by the United States at the borders to control Mexican immigrants from getting into the United States (Ganster, Lorey & Lorey 2008).

The rationale behind this is that border killings, including the killings of security officers, are reported each day as efforts to curb illegal Mexican immigrants from getting into the United States prove to be futile.

What has been witnessed as far as the response of the United States to the border problem with Mexico is the militarization of the problem, which seems to be ineffective in offering a long-term solution to the problem. The issue of mistrust and inequality in the status of development between the two countries results in avoidance, thereby paving way for sustenance of violent activities at the borders (Blasko 2007).

However, it should also be noted that the economic conditions in the country have not been favourable, thereby becoming a push factor for most Mexicans who believe that the economy of the United States is more accommodative compared to the Mexican economy.

What makes the issue complex is the difficulty when it comes to separation of the economic and social refugees or immigrants and the drug cartels at the border (Henninger 2013). The importance of cross-border communication and relations between the security organs of the two countries is, thus, critical in resolving the cross border turmoil in the region (Rush 2007).

The physical wall between the United States and Mexico

According to Henninger (2013), there have been different levels of rationality among people concerning the physical wall between the United States and Mexico. Whether this is a desirable step as far as cross border migration and human mobility in relation to international border security is a question that elicits a lot of debate.

It is evident that there are a number of people who support this step based on the studies and examples of such steps such as the Berlin Wall and the Great Wall of China, while a substantial number of analysts differ with the step. Those who differ with the step base their arguments on the weaknesses and failures of the Berlin Wall, as well as the Great Wall of China to meet the intended security goals of controlling cross-border transactions.

Langerbein (2009) opined that the border problem between the United States and Mexico has escalated into precedent levels of human insecurity. The new proposal of building a physical border fence at five strategic locations along the border between the US and Mexico, which was proposed in the House of Representatives in 2005, is based on the success of the earlier wall that was built in the border between San Diego and Tijuana.

However, it is important to note that the bill that resulted in the proposal to built the wall sparked heated debate over the purpose of the wall, the level of effectiveness in illegal cross-border movement that can be attained through the construction of the wall and the effects of building such a wall on the interaction between the two countries (Langerbein 2009).

It is important to note that the bill culminating into the proposal to build a fence at five strategic locations between the United States and Mexico necessitated an amendment to the Border Protection, Antiterrorism and Illegal Control Act (Langerbein 2009). From this observation, it can be argued that that the United States’ view of the cross-border conflict at its border with Mexico is quite constricted.

Another perspective is that the United States seems to be more subjective when it comes to the protection of seemingly porous border between the US and Mexico. However, one thing that needs to be asked in relation to the building of the fence in the strategic locations is whether the fence can result in a sustainable solution.

This is largely dependent on the view of Mexico and the level of cooperation that is exhibited by Mexico as far as building and maintaining the wall is concerned. Construction of the wall is an extended idea of the US Department of Homeland Security.

According to the Department, most Americans see the construction of the wall as a key factor in controlling cross-border movement, thereby protecting the United States from drug trafficking, checking the movement of illegal Mexican immigrants into the United States and protecting the country from terrorism.

However, views of most Mexican citizens in the specified strategic regions argue that the wall is an impediment to the social, cultural and economic ties between the two countries. It is also argued that the state of human vulnerability in Rio Grande Valley is bound to rise due to the impacts of the wall upon flooding of the Rio Grande River (Langerbein 2009).

There are a number of people in Mexico who have shown support for the implementation of stricter policies to help curb illegal migration between the United States and Mexico. However, even the proponents of the strict policies seem not to back the idea of the construction of the wall.

Among the arguments that are put forward by these people is that construction of the wall may force the countries to deal with the structural problems of illegal immigration unilaterally, making it hard to attain long standing solutions.

The problems that culminate into illegal immigration are structural in nature and can only be solved through deployment of a structural solution that is devised through an objective cooperation between the affected countries (Thompson 2006). According to Walters (2006), border problems can result in complex interactional problems, especially when they touch on issues of setting physical boundaries between states.

The fall of the Berlin Wall is another indicator of the impossibility of addressing the issue of cross-border movement, although the conditions that culminated into the construction of the Berlin Wall to separate West Germany from East Germany are different (Lico 2013). The need for socioeconomic mobility between West Germany and East Germany resulted in the total collapse of the wall.

The same case can be talked of the proposed border wall by the United States, where the wall can be a barrier to socioeconomic mobility between the two countries exhibited by the cross-border migration. What can be summed from the proposal of the United States is that the benefits that are derived out of the cooperation between the two countries do not favour the United States.

State surveillance in the border between the United States and Mexico has widened. However, the characteristic of the nature of intervention depicted in the proposal to erect a wall as a tactic of dealing with the problem demeans the initiatives of pacifying the borders. The border conflict in the region denotes a sequence of events that can be equated to organized crime by groups of immigrants who desire to embrace the continuity of illegal trading activities between the two countries.

The border has always been violent. However, it is important to make a distinction in the nature of violence that is witnessed at the border. Institutional changes are important in detecting motivation behind each set of violent acts.

In this way, it is possible to identify and stop the spill over effects of the cross-border problem, like violent and inhuman acts that are unleashed on the immigrants. This is an intensive strategy that can promote security as opposed to a cross-border wall that can only promote such impacts within the national boundary (Mendoza & St. John, 2012).

Weighing between the necessity of the wall and its level of effectiveness

While the construction of the wall is an initiative that is highly backed by the key security departments in the United States, it is imperative to say that the wall is not an all founded solution in addressing the cross-border migration problem between the United States and Mexico.

Just as it is observed in the history of China and the Great Wall, it comes out that separation of China through the construction of walls often came as a last solution after an exploration of other possible modes of solving the standoffs between the civilizations, like diplomacy and military expeditions, had failed. The walls later become insignificant as the press towards cooperation between the civilizations was fostered.

This can be linked to the argument by Rosière and Jones (2012) who reiterate on the need to reduce the physical barriers by states owing to the attributes of globalization, which encourages cross-border mobility and transactions between states in different realms of development.

In what they term as teichopolitics, Rosière and Jones (2012) point to the fact that social and economic discontinuity in the regions where the walls are erected is likely to be witnessed. This symbolizes the re-emergence of controls in international borders, which in turn prevents many people from realizing the benefits of globalization.

The politics of borders have become critical amidst the need for countries to minimize control in cross-border movement as a leeway for attaining the goals and objectives of globalization. Teichopolitics, which is depicted in the contemporary efforts by the United States to build a fence to separate it from Mexico, is a mere demonstration of authority and control by states in the contemporary geopolitics.

The need to separate geopolitics through encouraging countries to share and deliberate on cross-border challenges between countries has to be encouraged. This will see the demeaning steps to bar the cross-border movement of people through the construction of physical barriers addressed by countries (Rosière & Jones 2012).

According to Langerbein (2009), construction of physical walls is a step toward prevention of the privileges of the citizens of certain countries, while preventing citizens from other countries from rescuing themselves from the dehumanizing conditions that are prevalent in their countries (Duffield & Waddell 2006).


According to the argument presented in this paper, it is imperative to say that the United States needs to be more objective if at all a resounding solution to the border problem with Mexico is to be attained. The border problem between the United States and Mexico does not depict the battle for state and military supremacy, but it denotes a problem in international development that results from a set of complexities in development.

As noted earlier, there are a lot of push factors in Mexico that require the mutual rationalization between the two governments on the possibility of reducing the push factors within Mexico, which will in turn minimize the pressure that is witnessed at the borders as a result of the push conditions in Mexico. Militarization of the border and building of the wall between the two countries only act as short-term and unsustainable solutions to the border problem.

As long as the security and economic situation in Mexico are not improved, it will continue to be hard to restrict illegal movement that results in the cross-border turmoil in most of the borders between the United States and Mexico.

Of greater importance in the cross-border conflict between the United States and Mexico is the need to embrace laws that will foster negotiations between the two countries. Negotiations are critical in highlighting the underlying issues as far as the cross-border problem between the two countries is concerned.

Reference List

Blasko, L 2007, Opening the borders: Solving the Mexico/U.S. immigration problem for our sake and Mexico’s, Level 4 Press, Jamul, CA.

Danelo, DJ 2008, ‘The Border War’, U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, vol. 134 no. 10, pp. 48-52.

Duffield, M & Waddell, N 2006, ‘Securing humans in a dangerous world’, International Politics, vol. 43, pp. 1-23.

Ganster, P, Lorey, DE & Lorey, DE 2008, The U.S.-Mexican border into the twenty-first century, Rowman & Littlefield, Lanham.

Henninger, D 2013, ‘‘, Wall Street Journal – Eastern Edition. Web.

Koslowski, R 2009, . Web.

Langerbein, H 2009, ‘Great blunders? The Great Wall of China, the Berlin Wall, and the Proposed United States/Mexico Border Fence’, History Teacher, vol. 43 no. 1, pp. 9-29.

Lico, JA 2013, ‘The border Fence isn’t like the Berlin Wall’, Wall Street Journal – Eastern Edition. Web.

Mendoza, N & St. John, R 2012, ‘Transnational organized crime: Borderland conditions between the United States and Mexico’, Journal of International Affairs, vol. 66, no. 1, pp. 183-192.

Payan, T 2006, The three U.S.-Mexico border wars: Drugs, immigration and Homeland Security, Praeger Security International, Westport, CT.

Romero, F 2008, Hyperborder: The contemporary U.S.-Mexico border and its future, Princeton Architectural Press, New York, NY.

Rosière, S & Jones, R 2012, ‘Teichopolitics: Re-considering globalization through the role of walls and fences’, Geopolitics, vol. 7 no. 1, pp. 217-234.

Rush, E 2007, Annexing Mexico: Solving the border problem through annexation and assimilation, Level 4 Press, Inc., Jamul, CA.

Thompson, G 2006, ‘‘, New York Times. Web.

Tirman, J 2004, The maze of fear: Security and migration after 9/11, New Press, New York, NY.

Walters, W 2006, ‘Border/Control’, European Journal of Social Theory, vol. 9 no. 2, pp. 187-203.

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