Publication Date

Winter 1-2018


Over the past two decades, spending on enforcement along the southwestern border of the United States has expanded dramatically. The annual budget of the U.S. Border Patrol, increased from $400 million in fiscal year 1994 to $3.8 billion in fiscal year 2017. During this period, the number of Border Patrol agents stationed along the U.S.Mexico border grew by nearly 450 percent, from 3,747 to over 16,605 agents. Meanwhile, apprehensions of unauthorized migrants along the U.S.-Mexico border declined from 979,101 in 1994 to 303,916 in 2017.

These expansions and the accompanying declines in immigrant populations and apprehensions have raised concerns about the strategies of enforcement being employed and their impact on the human and civil rights of migrants and communities living along the southwestern border of the United States. Among other things, enforcement agents have been accused of physically and verbally mistreating unauthorized migrants on a routine basis. Additionally, border residents living through this “border surge,” most of whom are Mexican and Mexican American, have been victims of alleged recurring misconduct by enforcement agents and have been denied their rights in the name of drug and immigration enforcement.

Document Type



civil rights, detention, border patrol, immigration


Civil Rights and Discrimination | Defense and Security Studies | Public Policy


SMU Tower Center and Latino Center for Leadership and Development