A recent media probe examining the history surrounding American border policies relating to Mexico asks a very pointed question in its headline, namely this: Have those policies been effective?
A Princeton University study authored this year and cited in that examination answers the query in a succinct and unequivocal one-word summation.
And that is this: No.
The reasons why failed policy centrally marks the approach of American authorities toward the U.S.-Mexico border are many, notes the study, but they fundamentally coalesce into one bedrock explanation for why things seem so muddied and ineffectual these days.
In accounting for what they clearly view as wrongly applied policies over decades, study authors say that the foremost contributor to wrong thinking and outcomes has been "self-interested bureaucrats, politicians, and pundits who sought to mobilize political and material resources for their own benefit."
Ah, politics, which many of our readers are likely unsurprised to see invoked in a discussion of American immigration law and policies.
Scholars say that a misplaced "moral panic about the perceived threat of Latino immigration" has led to a response that is simply out of whack in regard to any posed problem. At one point, the Princeton researchers note, a program allowed Mexican workers to temporarily travel to and work in the United States each year. That program was cancelled, but it did nothing to alter the realities of labor supply and demand domestically.
In other words, border crossings for employments continued to ensue, though now illegal and clandestine. That has led over time, say researchers, to an enforcement regime "that is out of proportion to the flow of migrants."
In fact, the study findings conclude that the "crossing" problem has arguably reached its apex level, given that employment growth in the U.S. has slowed while, concurrently, the Mexican economy is progressively growing, buoyed by the emergence of a burgeoning middle class.
Thus, much of the debate and associated fear regarding the U.S.-Mexico border might now have a decidedly phantom quality about it.
That is, the concerns being expressed by some people might no longer be -- if they ever were -- grounded in reality.