People Crossing Borders: An Analysis of U. S. Border Protection Policies
Securing the borders of the United States has long been a contentious political issue. Although the United States is often described as "a country of immigrants" and a "melting pot," highlighting the relative openness of its borders, the borders have also served as a line of protection against external security threats. Such threats can take many shapes, but in recent years they have mainly included illegal immigration, smuggling and trafficking, and terrorism. With globalization producing increasing transnational threats to the United States, the pressure to use the border as a protection mechanism has grown. Since at least the 1980s, the border has played a central role in the debate over how to provide domestic security in the United States. The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 (and subsequent attempts on U.S. soil), the significant domestic population of unauthorized aliens, and recent concerns over drug-trafficking-related violence in Mexico and the potential for spillover into the United States have all continued to fuel this debate. Policymakers have also had to cope with a tension between border protection issues and free market ideals. Market competitiveness and demands for efficiency create a push for more open borders to unencumber the flows of capital and labor. Security concerns, however, frequently impede the movement of goods and labor as they are screened to determine if they pose risks to the United States. Thus, the need for an effective strategy to manage this inherent tension and provide for border protection is ever present.
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