Border Security and Illegal Immigration


            America is among one of the richest countries on earth with a large population that was built on democratic values. Countries around the world, and especially those around America to the south continually face higher crime rates and instability that causes a large number of their citizen to be displaced. Many of their citizens take it upon themselves to move to more economically and stable countries to escape persecution. Additionally, most of the people who decide to immigrate bring drugs and participate in human trafficking resulting in isolated incidence of crime and an ignorant perception that immigration causes instability within America. Upon further research, America has generally maintained a relatively racist attitude towards immigrants, since they bring changes to the demographic and limit the majority population’s ability in regards to polls. As a result more people are increasingly becoming vigilant of immigrants and populist politicians exemplify the effect for popularity especially in rural states. Furthermore, democracy and state powers limit cooperation to ensure that immigration is adequately handles within the American border. The best way to go about the issue of immigration would be for America to adapt a policing role and actively participate in quelling disputes within the refugees’ home countries since America would alternatively use a lot of money policing the border and solving the problem in the short run but keep its effects growing and mutating to adapt. America is justified to police the countries of origin since the refugees and immigrants allow it the choice by being in America.

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Border Security and Illegal Immigration

Nations define themselves to the world through the immigration policies they implement. The United States has one of the highest immigrant population and one of the most visited countries on earth. Based on hundreds of years of immigration, the United States has managed to accumulate a large and diversified population of immigrant that has worked positively for the most part in fueling its growth. Earlier, the American immigration policy for most of the 19th and 20th century was incredibly racist as it sought to reduce immigration from non-white regions of Asia and Africa. Matsouka and Ryujin (1991) review that as a result of jobs scarcity white people became wary of immigrants and this resulted in the introduction of laws that control immigration from areas like China, Japan and Filipino. In fact, Chinese people were barred from America exclusively in the start of the 20th century. Creation of policies that were racist, such as the Chinese Exclusion Act among others, sought to bar members of certain races from becoming part of the United States of America (Matsuoka and Ryujin, 1991). However, with the development of democracy and policies that favor globalization, the United States assumed the nature of “freedom” and created policies that defined America as the land of the free. This consequently saw great strides in the development of life and political freedoms that attracted people into the United States. At the same time, its role of world “police” or “watchdog” that sought to create an American ideology in a number of countries created more enemies that resulted in the 9/11 terrorist bombings in retaliation. This resulted in the creation of Homeland Security and the Department of Homeland Security. The department is responsible for border security, immigration, customs, collecting intelligence, and protecting the homeland from attacks from within and without. With more funding for implementation and policy formulation by both state assemblies and Congress, the Department of Homeland Security works in conjunction with other federal and state law enforcement agencies such as FBI, CBP, and State and Federal police. Immigration could be monitored and controlled to consider only people escaping from persecution and death.

One of the key factors that make immigration even harder to deal with, is the fact that the United States has been further divided into 50 semi-autonomous states. These states have been granted the powers to further make their own laws and regulations and support either side of the party that their populace ideology lies. This element essentially make it hard for the federal government to enact a single law that governs all 50 states with regards to immigration. According to Armenta (2017), “State and local governments continue to pass laws that regulate the lives of immigrants, blurring the boundaries between controlling immigrants and controlling immigration.” Several factors have contributed to the politicization of the immigration debate and failure to agree on one immigration policy within the United States. To understand this contextualization of the subject at hand is important. While the federal government holds exclusive rights on matters about immigration, states have continually interfered and adopted mixed policies that favor or oppose immigration to some degree. Immigrants coming to the United States come seeking jobs and, in most cases, they are willing to work for less compared to the natives. This forces most employers to turn a blind eye on immigration. Nonetheless, America is a white majority nation and with the increasing number of immigrants being of an alternative race, jitters have begun to crop up that the white population is being displaced. According to Ygelsias (2018, Par 7), a 2014 census report on the place white people at majority with the Non-Hispanics (NH) exclusive white population at 61.7% of the total share of population and the inclusively at 79.6% of the total share of the population. Making whites in America the largest racial group closely followed by African Americans. According to Armenta, there are concerns about “undesirable” newcomers—convicts, the poor, the infirm, and those from groups considered “racially inferior” (Armenta, 2017). As such, the white majority population in most Border States, especially Mexico, has become more inclined to right-wing ideologies since it speaks of their fears. In liberal states, immigration is viewed differently.

Most liberal states in the United States of America have a modern outgoing population that is open to less conservative ideologies. Additionally, they have a larger number of diversified groups of people who sway public opinion to favor immigration. Furthermore, according to the International Immigration Review, “public opinion in liberal democracies is slower to mobilize and crystallize, and more indifferent if not more favorable to immigration” (Freeman, 1995). The result is a stark difference in opinions between the right and the left wing, which causes a stalemate in all areas of government. The Wall as a means to handle immigration is not adequate; neither are separations of families and detaining people at the border, as this does not guarantee to stop the flow of people from various parts of the world into America. According to Nazario (2017, Par 17), the Honduran Violence Reduction program that involves direct consultation and participation between the United States and the Honduran state in capturing gang members terrorizing people cost over $ 100 million. This is a small amount compared to the amount the Wall, CBP, and all other agencies such as Homeland are allocated and it did a lot more to significantly reduce immigration. According to researchers, “Border enforcement cost a staggering $19.4 billion in 2016, and […] studies show 97% of border-crossers who try repeatedly succeed in getting into the country. Current estimates are that taxpayers […] will shell out $12 billion to $66.9 billion if President Trump’s barrier is built at the U.S.-Mexico border” (Nazario, 2017, Par 17). Therefore, the first solution would be to implement programs that work with foreign government and law enforcement in unstable countries to help eradicate violence and corruption. This will go a long way in providing security for people and reducing the number of people who may want to leave for safer countries such as America, as well as, cut the immigration costs.

Controlling immigration and enforcement of stricter border rules with respect to the purpose of entry and country of origin can go a long way in reducing external terrorism threats brought about by the immigrants. Granted, not all immigrants who come to the border are terrorists, but only a few. An empirical research conducted stated, “that foreign-born terrorist suspect who enter the United States, either as immigrants or tourists, do not necessarily become high-security risks” (Choi, 2018). This means that a majority of the immigrants who came to the United States did not harbor ill motives and the reduction in the potential threat from immigrant was largely due to better policing at the border and increased surveillance on classified security risk individuals. Choi identifies that immigration at the border has been improved greatly due to the various divisions set up to coordinate background check on immigrants and divide them based on their needs for immigration. Some of the policies may not be humanitarian based but they work adequately and have been used by both administrations to deter insecurity from immigrants into the United States. Restrictive immigration policies exert pressure on terrorism since they reduce the loopholes available for terrorists to exploit.  According to Choi, these policies work, “By imposing strict border regulations states may be better able to keep out known, suspected, or potential terrorists from their countries” (Choi, 2018). Some of the restrictions created, divide immigrants based on their nationality, skills they possess, quotas of the immigrant from each individual country, outside recruitment of people directly into the nation’s labor market to encourage people to use the existing platforms for immigration. Moreover, it includes setting up refugee and asylum policies to create room for genuine refugees and people being persecuted, as well as, family reunification programs. Finally, Choi identifies that immigration laws and citizenship laws could be put in place to guide and deter immigration by outlining the rights of the immigrants and the citizens. Lastly, it recommends deportation of immigrants after a criminal act and development of a common database across all enforcers to prevent a re-entry by the criminal again into the country. All state and federal agency should also be set up to work as a team to prevent divisions caused by politics. Nonetheless, Choi identifies through empirical research that more restrictive policies while effective in the short term, fail to be useful in the long run. According to Choi, “Democracies are expected to experience more terrorist attacks than autocracies on the grounds that they allow more freedom of expression and movement” (Choi, 2018). This is why necessarily intelligence gathering and more autonomy should be given towards these agencies for them to adequately perform their duties. According to Gorman et al., the “key to border security is better intelligence and that improving intelligence-sharing within and among border-control and law-enforcement agencies” (2002, Par 2). Various other liberties must be given up such as classifying citizens as terrorists to allow lesser rights to high-security threat individuals into a country. According to Political Behaviour Journal, the reasons why most immigration policies have been relatively effective in democracies across the world is because they shifted their perspectives on immigration. The Article states that the “perceptions of security and threat influence political rhetoric and alignments. […]. The so-called ‘securitization of migration’ discourse […] strengthened previous associations between immigration, crime, law-and-order, and security” (Lahav and Courtemanche, 2008). This political leeway allowed democracies to establish minimal dictatorial powers suspended freedoms for terrorist within their soil, thus, control terrorism.

 State and Federal laws play an important role in making laws and policies that govern immigration. While the United States has always been considered a nation of immigrants; economic growth, diversification, greater democratic rights, and respect for freedom has seen an increased number of immigrants from nations that are not predominantly white. In return, this has resulted in increased opposition from the larger white community. At the same time, some immigrants bring new security threats, based on their ideologies, to the homeland hindering development and people’s rights to associate and speak openly. Task forces and agencies such as Homeland Security, Cross Border Patrol, National Guard (Military), State and County police, and the FBI have all been formulated to control immigration. However, with the rising divide in ideologies implementation of political-free policies has become harder. While restrictive policies have worked in the short term, they fail to deal with terrorism and immigration. Various researchers suggest that the best way to address immigration and its link to terrorism is to collect more intelligence and implement policies that seek to stem out instability from the countries of origin. This means working directly from the source of the problem to create peace and prevent displacement of people.


Armenta, A. (2017). Protect, Serve, and Deport: The Rise of Policing as Immigration Enforcement. Erscheinungsort nicht ermittelbar: University of California Press.

Swindell, B. (2006, November 10). Dems Must Pick Point Person Before Immigration Debate. CongressDaily, p. 2

Choi, S.-W. (August 01, 2018). Does Restrictive Immigration Policy Reduce Terrorism in Western Democracies?. Perspectives on Terrorism, 12(4), 14-25.

Freeman, G. P. (1995). Modes of immigration politics in liberal democratic states. International Migration Review, 29(4), 881-902.

 Gorman, S., Freedberg Jr., S. J., Munro, N., Stone, P. H., & Kitfield, J. (2002). “Preventing New Attacks”. National Journal34(32), 2364.

Lahav, G., & Courtemanche, M. (September 01, 2012). The Ideological Effects of Framing Threat on Immigration and Civil Liberties. Political Behavior, 34(3), 477-505.

Matsuoka, J., & Ryujin, D. (1991). Asian American Immigrants: A Comparison of the Chinese, Japanese, and Filipinos. Retrieved from

Nazario, S. (2017). “How To Secure The Border. Spoiler Alert: A Wall Won’t Do It.” Retrieved from

Yglesias, M. (2018). Study: overhyped media narratives about America’s fading white majority fuel anxiety. Retrieved from

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