Border Policy


This week's topic is immigration and we're focusing on America's border policy


General Chapman’s Last Stand

In 1973 General Chapman, former U.S. Marine Corps General who served as the 24th Commandant of the Marine Corps, was appointed the commissioner of what was then referred to as the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), the agency in charge of securing the United States’ borders. He transformed the agency, which he believed had taken a relaxed approach to the enforcement of U.S. immigration laws.

“When Chapman took over the INS, the cost of crossing the Mexican border was effectively zero. By the time he left in 1977, it was not.”

In this episode, historian Malcolm Gladwell examines the impact General Chapman had on America's border policy, and the effects this has yielded on immigration patterns since. 



Border Trilogy Part 2: Hold The Line

In the late 90s there was a dramatic rise in the number of migrant deaths recorded in the Arizona desert. These numbers have remained high since.

In RadioLabs Border Trilogy series Anthropologist, Jason De Leon, traces this sudden spike in cross-border deaths to a policy referred to as “Prevention Through Deterrence”, implemented in 1994. The policy set out to deter migrants from crossing the US border by disrupting their traditional, urban crossing points and pushing them towards areas that were much tougher to traverse - deserts, rivers and other such extreme environments.

In this episode, which forms part two of the series, we learn how Chief Silvestre Reyes of the El Paso border patrol became the primary architect of the strategy that was to reshape how America guarded its U.S.-Mexico Border. 



What A Border Sheriff Thinks About The Wall

“Having been in this valley for thirty one years I've heard Democratic administrations, Republican administrations one after another say they're going to address this problem… that we're going to fix the immigration system, we're going to secure the border. And three decades later, here we are. My fear is that you'll be talking to some Sheriff thirty years from now who will be saying: 'I wish we could address this problem.'"

In our final instalment of this week’s deep dive into US border policy, we take you back to an interview recorded during the recent Government shutdown. Mark Napier is the Sheriff of Pima County, Arizona, who oversees patrolling of the longest stretch of the U.S./ Mexico border. 

During this interview, Napier reflects on how productive action around immigration has been immobilized by its politicization, as it has been reduced to an issue around which Democrats and Republicans remain locked in perpetual battle. A battle, he argues, that no one stands to win until America finds a bi-partisan solution to securing its border.


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