Fall 2018 - 60630 - PA 682GA - Policy Research Project on Global Policy Issues

Beyond the Border: Central American Migration and Mexico's Migratory Policy

Over the past two years, Central American migration to the United States has become a prominent security and immigration concern and a centerpiece in the current U.S. administration’s efforts to secure the U.S.-Mexico border. However, given changing U.S. policies, persistent insecurity in the Northern Triangle (El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala), and the evolving migrant demographics of more women and children heading north, Mexico also faces significant policy challenges in addressing the 300,000+ Central American migrants moving through its territory each year.

This Strauss Center sponsored Policy Research Project (PRP) will take a Mexican policy perspective on Central American migration. It will grapple with the complicated questions that Mexico faces as a migration transit corridor and destination for international migrants. The PRP will cover the security concerns (gangs, drug-trafficking groups, and endemic gender-based violence) that force Central Americans to flee their communities; the migrant smuggling market; the overlap of migrant smuggling routes with organized criminal groups that tax each migrant, and the local and regional groups that exploit, extort, and attack migrants with almost complete impunity. It will also evaluate current Mexican policy efforts both to protect these individuals, process their asylum claims, and enforce immigration laws; and finally, it will touch on U.S. border and immigration policies that determine Central Americans’ futures once they cross into the United States.

Throughout the class, students will learn about the structure of Mexico’s government and policy-making process, submit transparency requests for data at the federal and state levels, and conduct independent interviews with experts. This research will aim to assist FM4 in answering questions related to the current state of Central American migration and migratory policy. Students will also have the opportunity to hear from a range of guest speakers, including Mexican government officials who focus on migration and security; heads of Mexican migrant shelters; Mexican immigration NGOs; Central American migrants themselves; U.S. Border Patrol agents and ICE officials; U.S. and Mexican immigration lawyers; and journalists covering Central American migration. There will also be opportunities for most if not all students to conduct research at FM4 in Guadalajara and along the U.S.-Mexico border.

This PRP will draw on research conducted in the 2017-2018 Beyond the Border PRP but will focus on answering new questions for FM4.

Conversational to fluent Spanish is highly recommended (but not required).