Fall 2023 - 61020 - PA 682GA - Policy Research Project on Global Policy Issues


Instructor: Stephanie Leutert

Instructor of Record: Adam Klein

Clients: Southern Border Community Coalition (SBCC) & Brooks County Sheriff’s Office

MGPS Seats:

Ideal for: Students interested in transit migration, borders and border enforcement, migrant risk and mortality

Travel: Travel to South Texas

Meets: Thursday 2-5 pm

Skills: No special skills required

In fiscal year 2022, more than 800 people died along the U.S.-Mexico border while attempting to enter the United States. If previous years’ patterns hold true, then more than half of these individuals likely died in South Texas—just a few hours away from the LBJ School of Public Affairs. These deceased individuals have no singular demographic, and include men, women, adults, and children from various countries across the hemisphere. Some of these individuals were arriving to the United States for the first time and others had already lived for months, years, or decades in U.S. communities.

This PRP looks at these migrant deaths and the policy structures that make them increasingly common. It focuses on restrictive immigration policies and increased border enforcement as the underlying structural factors and examines local officials’ responses. The course focuses on specific causes of death in South Texas—such as drowning in the Rio Grande, dehydration from hiking around Border Patrol checkpoints, and car crash deaths after vehicle pursuits—and explores how policy and enforcement shifts affect these dynamics.

The PRP will have two clients and students will be split between them. The first client is the Southern Border Community Coalition, which is an organization that brings together networks from across the southern border to promote policies and solutions that improve the quality of life of border residents. This client will have two policy-related questions for the class, which are still in the process of being confirmed.

The second client is the Brooks County Sheriff’s Office, which is the law enforcement body that oversees the geographic area around the Falfurrias Border Patrol Checkpoint. The Sheriff’s Office is charged with documenting each migrant death in this space and is the only South Texas local law enforcement agency to have a Search and Rescue Deputy on staff for missing migrants. The Sheriff’s Office has requested research on ways to improve and build out their search and rescue capabilities to find missing migrants and recover deceased individuals’ remains.

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