Home Institution

Tufts University

Publication Date

Spring 2019

Program Name

Mexico: Migration, Borders, and Transnational Communities


In the last two years of President Donald Trump and his administration, immigration and border regulations between the United States (US) and Mexico has become one of the most decisive and hottest political issues. This political struggle has brought into question US border practices and strategies such as physical barriers, denial of entry, detention, and, most importantly, how the US should respond to immigration. In reality, though, this question has existed since immigration along the US-Mexico border began.

In this paper, I examine a 1994 US Border Strategy, first introduced under President Bill Clinton, called ‘Prevention Through Deterrence.’ This border strategy was one of the first stances that the US government took to begin curbing immigration and closing the border. My research question focused on the understandings and ramifications of this US border strategy amongst advocates in the US and Mexico.

Using interview data and existing literature, I demonstrate that ‘Prevention Through Deterrence’ is: (1) the driving force behind recent policies such as family separation, detention, and criminalization; (2) a strategy founded on false choices; and (3) an imprisonment of non-criminal spaces. Overall, my findings came together to question the legality of ‘Prevention Through Deterrence’ and highlight the human cost, personal narratives, and cruelty attached to this border strategy.


Immigration Law | Latin American History | Latin American Languages and Societies | Latin American Studies | Migration Studies | Politics and Social Change | Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies | Social and Cultural Anthropology


Article Location