US Department of Homeland Security: An Analysis of Migrant Smuggling Costs along the Southwest Border

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This Working Paper by Bryan Roberts, Gordon Hanson, Derekh Cornwell, and Scott Borger, analyzes the costs of human trafficking in the U.S.-Mexico border, specifically on the western region (on the California-Baja California and Arizona-Sonora areas). As they state on the first lines their ” goal in this paper is to estimate the impact that enforcement has on the price smugglers charge to bring illegal immigrants across the U.S.-Mexico border.” – InSight

  From the text:

The degree to which migration costs rise in response to intensified enforcement can be termed the cost elasticity with respect to enforcement, and the degree to which the number of potential illegal immigrants falls in response to increased costs can be termed the migration elasticity with respect to cost. One important aspect of migration costs that can be quantified and measured is the fee charged by smugglers of illegal immigrants. Intensified enforcement activities should increase the difficulty and cost to a smuggler for getting clients successfully across th border, and this would be passed on to clients through an increase in the smuggling cost. It is probable that an increased smuggling cost would deter potential illegal immigration, thus creating a level of deterrence.

The degree to which border enforcement activities have prevented and deterred the movement of illegal immigrants across the Southwest border of the United States is a issue of public policy importance and has been the subject of considerable debate. It is also a challenging measurement issue with respect to both data availability and statistical methodology.

Download the full version (pdf).

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