Boost border security by spending that $8B to cut drug crime in the U.S. and Latin America

US-Mexico border at El Paso/Ciudad Juarez when Pope Francis visited.

US-Mexico border at El Paso/Ciudad Juarez when Pope Francis visited.

An opinion piece from the Dallas News, written by Social Justice team member Mark Lusk, Josiah Heyman and Amy Bach.

Josiah Heyman is director of the Center for Inter-American and Border Studies and a professor of anthropology at the University of Texas at El Paso. 

Mark Lusk is a professor of social work at UT El Paso.

Amy Bach is an assistant professor of literacy at UT El Paso.

About 20 faculty members of the UT El Paso Center for Inter-American and Border Studies collaborated and signed this column, written for The Dallas Morning News. 

The language of emergency creates panic around the border and does not serve the public good. As scholars and residents of the border, we could reply that the U.S. side is safe and that migrant apprehensions are historically low, though rising. But that is insufficient. We know real insecurities exist, but not ones that a wall will solve. 

To enhance border security, we must address problems, not symptoms. We need to untangle the knot of criminality, violence, guns, drugs and migration tying the United States and Latin America. Strategic initiatives can improve safety and well-being, and it is toward these that we should dedicate our billions in public money.

Most migrants arriving at the border seek asylum, a form of legal immigration. Northern Central American countries Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras report some of the highest rates of homicide in the world, and gang violence, extortion, forcible conscription and intimidation are epidemic. As Doctors Without Borders informs us, these countries experience "unprecedented levels of violence outside a war zone." Our research shows that these people are forced migrants, similar to those who flee war or natural disasters.

The border wall money should address the circumstances that motivate people to undertake a 2,000-plus mile journey.  Continue reading