Economic migrants and the Mexican – U.S. border

The George W. Bush Presidential Center issued a report “A Smart Border Policy for the 21st Century” in February 2021. It is too multi-faceted to report on here in full, so I will take on slice of it – the pressure of economic migration at the Mexican – U.S. border. The report says that economic migrant use the asylum system to get into the U.S. It says:

We know that robust border security must be accompanied by a robust legal immigration policy. Whether through temporary work visas or additional green cards, legal migration pathways reduce pressure on the border and head off the development of grey-zone communities where other types of crime can take root. Expanding the reach of the H-2A visa (temporary agricultural work) and H-2B visa (temporary nonagricultural work) to the Northern Triangle is a win-win.

American employers will be able to find workers to fill their open positions, and foreign workers can legally work in the United States without having to uproot their entire families. Congress can also adopt new legislation to create additional legal migration options such as a program that would allow some temporary workers without bachelor’s degrees to transition to green cards after working for the same employer for a given number of years.

Expanding legal channels will not completely eliminate the phenomenon of economic migrants attempting to gain entry to the United States through the asylum system, but it will reduce the pressure on the U.S. asylum system at the border and the in-region processing of these migrants, giving space to legitimate asylum claims. These strategies will channel such individuals into the U.S. job market, where they can legally contribute to the American economy.


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