America's Second Southern Border? Mexico's 2014 Programa Frontera Sur and the Widening of North American Immigration Cooperation
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This study seeks to answer whether Mexico’s 2014 Programa Frontera Sur (PFS) represents a widening of US/Mexico immigration cooperation and a shift toward what may become a multilateral North American immigration posture. Beginning in 2011, the US noted a steady increase in the number of irregular migrants arriving at the southern border after transiting from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador via Mexico. In response, Mexico’s President Peña Nieto announced Programa Frontera Sur (“The Southern Border Program”) which aimed to protect vulnerable migrants entering via Mexico’s southern border with Guatemala and more effectively enforce the physical and technological infrastructure of that border. There is considerable evidence that the US pressured Mexico to introduce the program early and provided much of its funding. This thesis outlines the purpose of PFS within the context of Mexico’s previous immigration policies concerning the southern border. It then analyzes the program’s immediate effects on immigration and migrant human rights to understand whether it met its two primary short-term objectives before discussing the present-day state of US/Mexican immigration cooperation. This thesis finds that PFS represented an unprecedented step toward bilateral immigration cooperation. It argues that contemporary instances of cooperation would not be possible without the bedrock that PFS established in 2014. It concludes that greater US/Mexico immigration cooperation should be expected in the future.