Border Security by Stopping People from Leaving the U.S.??

Recently I overheard a group of my immigration attorney colleagues discussing reports that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers are stopping people trying to leave the United States through the Nogales Port of Entry.Similar reports have come from other crossing points.

Considering all the recent hue and cry about “too many immigrants in the U.S.,” it seems strange that CBP would actually interfere with people who wanted to leave.  Many of the people stopped were actually going to visa interviews at the U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, in order to get proper, legal documents and return “the right way.”

The question was raised, “How does complicating the lives of people attempting to comply with the law by leaving the US enhance our security?”

As strange as it sounds, this ‘new’ policy is probably an off-shoot of one of the better ideas in the “border enforcement” approach to national security.  I don’t mean harassing undocumented workers and others attempting to leave, but rather, trying to prevent the flow of money and guns heading “south.”

A couple of recent studies published by the Immigration Policy Center lay this out clearly.**  As far as the border is concerned, the real  threat to national security lies not in the poor migrants themselves, but in the growing wealth and power of organized criminal enterprises created to facilitate illicit entry into the U.S. (or more precisely, created to reap huge profits by facilitating illicit entry into the U.S.).  Stemming the return of profits and the flow of guns to the ‘cartels’ could make a real difference in diminishing the power – and danger – of these organizations. 

In comparison, rounding up and deporting a few hundred or a few million undocumented workers is actually counter-productive.  It just increases the demand for, and the profits from, the cartels’ services.  Not to mention shooting our own economy in the foot by depriving it of needed workers, demand for goods and services, tax revenues, etc.

Aside from comprehensive immigration reform (which could eliminate the demand for illicit ‘underground’ avenues of entry), cutting off the profits and reducing the firepower of the human- and drug-smuggling cartels would be one of the more effective ways to keep the

U.S. safe from an actual “threat.”

That is why “complicating the lives of persons attempting to comply with the law” [by leaving the U.S.] is actually part of a rational immigration policy. 

Unfortunately, CBP’s effectiveness at this “outbound interdiction” role will be significantly diminished, if they don’t learn to do it without terrorizing or alienating the general population of migrants and other travelers (documented or otherwise).  Imagine the impact on true “border security,” if all travelers could look at CBP as “the good guys, working to keep us all safe, from the truly bad guys.”

Contact our Arizona immigration attorneys today!

** The referenced articles are at: and 

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Gunderson, Denton & Peterson, P.C.
1930 N. Arboleda, Suite 201
Mesa, Arizona 85213
Office: 480-655-7440
Fax: 480-655-7099

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