U.S. Border Control, Migratory Policies, and Criminal Violence in Mexico

Francisco Alonso , European University Institute

My dissertation is about the unintended consequences of U.S. migratory policies in the ongoing wave of violence in Mexico. I am trying to provide an alternative narrative about the "Mexican criminal civil war" based on the U.S. punitive migratory shift. I argue that, for decades, Mexican irregular migration to the U.S. "turned a problem into an opportunity" since remittances promoted peace and development in Mexico, and the departure of unsatisfied people stimulated social and political stability, particularly in the Mexican countryside. But during the 2000s, post 9/11 migration policies closed this "escape valve". Hence, by removing one of the main strategies for capital and status acquisition, migrant regions in Mexico became disproportionately more violent than the rest of the country. OLS regressions of aggregate data combined with semi-structured interviews and participant observation in regions of migration origin suggest that the deterrence of irregular migration corresponded to unintended negative consequences: increased competition for local scarce resources, reoriented prospective migrants into dangerous occupations like growing illegal crops, and reactivated blood feuds because paying back debts became more difficult.

About the speaker
Francisco Alonso is a PhD Researcher of Political and Social Sciences at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy. Francisco grew up in Mexico City where he attended college. He holds a B.A. in Political Science and International Relations from the Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas (CIDE); an M.A. in International Affairs, Conflict Resolution and Civil Society Development from the American University of Paris (AUP) and the Institut Catholique de Paris (ICP). In his professional career he worked as subdirector of analysis at the Centro para el Desarrollo Democrático del Instituto Federal Electoral; research analyst for the Partido Acción Nacional Parliamentary Group at the Mexican Senate; collaborated with several research projects in Mexican, French and European academic institutions; and contributed to independent media in Mexico and Europe. Francisco’s research and interests are on irregular migration, religion and social movements, elections and democratization, riots, and political and criminal insurgencies mostly in Latin America.

Venue: Conference Room

Date: 19 November 2014

Time: 12:30 - 13:30


UNU-MERIT