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U.S.-Mexico border enforcement is subject of talk

Sept. 23, 2010

KALAMAZOO--One of the nation's foremost border-control authorities will discuss a variety of issues related to immigration and U.S.-Mexico border enforcement during a lecture Wednesday, Sept. 29, at Western Michigan University.

The free, public talk will be presented from 5 to 7 p.m. in Room 1025 Brown Hall by Dr. Timothy J. Dunn, associate professor of sociology at Salisbury University. The event is part of the 2010-11 Kercher Symposium Series.

According to Dunn, an understanding of 1993's "Operation Blockade" in El Paso, Texas, is needed to understand border enforcement today. That effort employed a radical new strategy compared to the tradition of apprehending unauthorized crossers after entry. In a marked departure, 400 agents were directly posted on the banks of the Rio Grande in highly visible positions to deter unauthorized border crossings into the urban areas of El Paso from neighboring Juarez.

This "prevention through deterrence" strategy became the foundation of the 1994 and 2004 National Border Patrol Strategies for the Southern Border. Although politically popular overall, the real effectiveness of the strategy is debated, and its implementation has led to a sharp rise in the number of deaths of unauthorized border crossers.

Dunn will examine U.S. border enforcement efforts as well as the local social and political situations that have spawned and shaped them. He also will address such topics as human rights abuses, enforcement excesses inflicted on local Mexican Americans and Mexican immigrants, and the rights of national sovereignty and citizenship.

A noted researcher, Dunn is the author of two books: "Blockading the Border and Human Rights: The El Paso Operation that Remade Immigration Enforcement," published in 2009, and "The Militarization of the U.S.-Mexico Border, 1978-1992: Low Intensity Conflict Doctrine Comes Home," published in 1996.

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Media contact: Jeanne Baron, (269) 387-8400, jeanne.baron@wmich.edu

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