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Land Border Illegal Migration Profiling

Border control is an important component of national security. For a country the size of the United States, however, the length of its land borders and coastlines poses a significant security challenge. Illegal migrant workers, drug couriers, foreign terrorists, smugglers, fugitives and other criminals benefit from the geographic range and porous nature of both the southern and northern U.S. borders. While the federal government has employed personnel, technology and intelligence in its effort to control this problem, illegal border crossers adapt to such efforts, displacing to areas less well surveyed and patrolled. A Rand study modeling drug interdiction efforts demonstrated that a high percentage of the U.S. border/coastline had to be covered to have any significant impact on narcotic importation levels.


Under-explored to date, geographic information systems (GIS) and geographic profiling of illegal migration patterns can optimize resource allocation and help anticipate offender reactions. Those factors that facilitate or inhibit border crossings can be identified and studied in an effort to determine environmental and physical features that relate to the probability of illegal border movement. Knowledge of the spatial behavior of illegal land border immigrants would assist those responsible for protecting national security anticipate and prevent such activity. It would also help intelligence collection and information sharing by promoting a better understanding of offender movement patterns and interjurisdictional issues. Models constructed from this research would enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of border security, benefiting the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Border Patrol, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS) (formerly the Immigration and Naturalization Service), county sheriff and small local police departments close to the border, and large metropolitan police departments in the border regions.


This effort would build on an existing research project funded by the National Institute of Justice. Emphasis would be placed on identifying and analyzing areas of concern in Mexico, Central and South American countries, in order to better understand how they fit into the overall illegal migration equation.