Thursday, August 5, 2010

Border Control Data Dump

This provides the background data for a post I plan to write tomorrow.  That post will be my fantasy policy making post on what immigration platform I'd have if I had a massive stroke that caused sufficient brain damage to make me want to run for Congress and suffer through all that nonsense.  It's what I think we'd have to do to have a working border policy, not anything that I see coming up for debate any time soon.

Some very limited discussion.  First, as you can see there is likely some deterrent effect.  It's also mostly swamped by the economic effects.  I'd add that based on some historical points I've heard made that a massive increase in draconian enforcement would likely lead to a sharp drop in border crossings.  I'd also say based on historical data this drop would be temporary since those crossing can adapt faster than government can respond to adaptations.  The cost figures I have are for border patrol only, there is also substantial expenditure on inland enforcement, such as workplace raids.  From these reports it seems that interior enforcement is much more expensive than point enforcement at the border.  There is no hard data given on this so you can choose whether or not to believe this.  I do think it's unavoidable to conclude that an enforcement first approach is futile, the additional resources are having an impact but it isn't that large and is likely to suffer from diminishing marginal returns.

Feel free to dig into the data yourself.

People Crossing Borders: An Analysis of U.S. Border Protection Policies

Border Security: The Role of the U.S. Border Patrol

Remember, these are reports for Congress.  Whatever it is they're saying they do know this stuff, or at least have a staffer who does.
[In case it wasn't clear, all data from the above two linked reports]


  1. I still think the top-line argument is that immigration is good, but if you're readying a diminishing marginal returns argument, I can endorse that too.

  2. Doug,

    I'd agree that immigration is good. What I'm trying to do is to think up an immigration plan that meets as many of the stated goals (while ignoring the unstated, but obvious, ones) of as many people involved in the debate as possible. Of course, I'll be completely ignoring the preferred methods expressed but I think doing this required giving data on why i think an enforcement centered approach is ultimately futile. At least, as long as your goals aren't to increase employment in the public sector and expand the federal deficit.

  3. Got it. I'm following. I just didn't not leave a comment.