Stephanie Leutert

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Stephanie Leutert is the Director of the Mexico Security Initiative at the University of Texas at Austin. She writes for Beyond the Border, a Strauss Center and Lawfare collaboration, and provides an in depth look at security and migration challenges in Mexico and Central America.

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How a Struggling Coffee Market Pushes Guatemalans North

Last year, I traveled to the Guatemalan highlands to visit the towns that were sending the most people per capita to the United States. I was curious about why Guatemalans were leaving their communities and what factors contributed to these decisions. In each town, I never found a single answer but, rather, various overlapping reasons that included a changing climate, low wages, few opportunities for employment, a desire for family reunification, distrust in political leaders and a lack of safety, among others.

Border Security

How Many Central Americans are Traveling North? An Update

Every month, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Mexico's National Migration Institute (Instituto Nacional de Migración, INM) release their migration apprehension numbers that chart the movements of Central Americans across the region. These numbers hint at larger stories of difficult conditions in Central America, varying levels of migratory enforcement in Mexico, and ever-shifting U.S. policies.


What ‘Metering’ Really Looks Like in South Texas

Thirty-two Cubans line the international bridge connecting Roma, Texas, with Ciudad Miguel Alemán, Tamaulipas. The Cubans sit one after another on the Mexican side of the bridge, checking their phones, chatting amongst themselves, and switching positions to stay out of the sun, where the temperature tops 100 degrees. Yet, above all, they are waiting. As the days pass, they wait for their number to be called and for the opportunity to step beyond the midpoint barrier into U.S. territory and ask for asylum.