Public policy changes on the U.S.-Mexico border

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Long-term, established residents of the border region have learned to negotiate border policies and use them to their benefit. Nonetheless, geographic boundaries and the resultant barriers of unilateral policies directly and indirectly affect the lives of residents along the U.S.-Mexico boundary. There, policies and the politics they generate are part of the extraordinary experiences that border residents face in the challenges of daily life. Proffered in this collection of chapters are a series of snapshots of resilient and resourceful transborder families who have found a way to improve their lives under the shadow of globalization. As this body of work illustrates, public policy on the border is not bilateral; and, in some cases, I argue that public policies should be binational. For example, if both the United States and Mexico enact environmental policies related to air quality, common sense would dictate that these policies should be consistent at the U.S.-Mexico border. Likewise, it is important that other policies that are to be enforced in the region be congruent, on both sides; if not, there is a risk that policy making will be an exercise in futility. This chapter unfolds with a history of public policies, including a brief overview of the Bracero Program and the Border Industrialization Program (BIP), and their impact, with a discussion of how globalization has led to the current state of affairs on the border. Next, the chapter addresses the shortcomings of public policies that often lack a bilateral perspective, and how such unilateral policies fail to address the needs of residents on the border. The chapter reveals how women negotiate the border and respective government policies in a creative manner to meet the needs of their families. Most public policies at the border are not binational, and this body of research points to this lack. As the border region continues to reach farther into the United States, beyond the contiguous borderline to places such as Albuquerque, New Mexico, San Antonio, Texas, and Los Angeles, California, transnational families are affected in important ways. Finally, I speak to the needs of the borderland families and children in the realms of economic, immigration, labor, and homeland security policies; and, with this perspective, I present a series of relevant and critical binational public policy recommendations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationTransformations of La Familia on the U.S.-Mexico Border
PublisherUniversity of Notre Dame Press
Number of pages19
ISBN (Print)9780268035099
StatePublished - Dec 1 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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