20 February 2018

Stephanie Leutert, Director of the Strauss Center’s Mexico Security Initiative (MSI), was recently quoted in a Texas Tribune article on border dynamics in the Rio Grande Valley. The prospect of border wall construction poses new and complicated challenges for controlling drug and human smuggling, but it alone will not stop transnational criminal activity. Drug and human smugglers, according to the article, have continued to be able to work around physical barriers in other parts of the U.S.-Mexico border by bribing Border Patrol officials and hiding drugs in licit cargo.

Referring to the volume of undocumented migrants to the United States who pay organized criminal groups for the “right” to cross the border, Leutert points out that instead of building a wall, addressing the root causes of criminal activity through immigration reform or drug demand reduction or investing in Central America and Mexico's economic and security development would be a more efficient use of U.S. resources.

The economics of transnational crime and political corruption in Mexico are areas of scholarship for the Mexico Security Initiative. MSI looks to inform the border security debate with in-depth, sophisticated research into policies to address violence and illegal activity spanning the U.S.-Mexico border.