The question is fundamental to understanding migration to the United States. But it’s surprisingly hard to answer.
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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The 5,000-person migrant caravan that has made so much news reflects only 10 percent of the monthly total of people requesting asylum or apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Such an accord does not target the root drivers of migration so cannot eliminate the flow of refugees and asylum seekers.
For all the immigration concerns focusing on the U.S. southern border, Mexico has become primarily a “transit country,”with more people moving through it rather than directly leaving.
For many migrants heading north, the dangers are just beginning when they reach Mexico.
Migrants and tourists have surprisingly similar effects on the communities along this corridor. But one group’s transit is legal and the other’s is not.
To understand immigration issues in context, I went to Mexico’s southern border—the starting point for many Central Americans’ journey to the U.S.