In 1994 the United States launched Operation Gatekeeper, effectively militarizing the US-Mexico border. Within three years, agents strapped with M4 rifles and .40 caliber submachine guns patrolled their newly-installed fences 24 hours a day. The INS budget and the size of the Border Patrol doubled during the same period and the easiest routes north were sealed. Policymakers envisioned human action in economic terms, expecting that people would make a “cost-benefit decision” before deciding to journey across more dangerous terrain. They believed that no rational actor would assume the “cost” of crossing Arizona’s Sonora Desert in the summertime.
Policymakers were wrong. Each day this summer, countless migrants will begin 4-5 day treks in 110 degree heat for a chance to live and work in the United States. Many will never make it out of the desert. Continue reading