MPI: Argues that the Border Is Under Control

The left-leaning Migration Policy Institute released on May 4 two reports aimed at convincing Congress and the public that the border with Mexico is under control and further resources, such as new construction is unnecessary. One report is termed “A Revolving Door No More?” which cites official data showing that recidivism [the illegal return of deported illegal aliens]has dropped by 80 percent. The other is “Advances in U.S.-Mexico Border Enforcement.”

The two reports and a panel presentation on the reports, led by former Immigration and Naturalization Service Commissioner Doris Meissner, were aimed a painting a picture of a secure border. But that depiction is misleading.

The first report relies on responses of a sample of deported Mexicans to a questionnaire administered by Mexican authorities which asked whether the deportee intended to try to return to the United States. The data indicated that about half (49%) of the deportees said they intended to try again. That is a major reduction in that answer from an earlier period, and it suggests that there has been a positive impact from ending the practice of simply putting apprehended Mexican illegal entrants back across the border and instead formally deporting them. But, if half of the deportees still say they intend to sneak back, much additional deterrence is needed.

The second report relies on data from a program of the U.S. immigration authorities that found a reduction in recidivism (return illegal entry after deportation). The trouble with this data is that it was criticized by the independent U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) for only comparing deportations and re-arrests that occur in the same year as a case of recidivism. The GAO pointed out that if a person who was deported and managed to sneak back into the country and stayed for more than a year before being deported again, that person would not be treated as a recidivist in the data. That meant that the rate of recidivism in the data was understated.

Rather than the message that MPI tried to project that the border is secure and nothing more needs to be done, the data used in generating these reports clearly show that more needs to be done to secure the border against illegal entry.

About Author


Jack, who joined FAIR’s National Board of Advisors in 2017, is a retired U.S. diplomat with consular experience. He has testified before the U.S. Congress, U.S. Civil Rights Commission, and U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform and has authored studies of immigration issues. His national and international print, TV, and talk radio experience is extensive (including in Spanish).


  1. avatar

    Both these so called “reports” by MGI are highly suspect. Anything “based on a questionnaire administered by Mexican authorities” is shaky to begin with. They have every interest in portraying illegal immigration as nothing to worry about because they want to keep up the never ending stream of Mexicans to this country so those people can continue to send back money to relatives in Mexico. They also want to continue the political takeover of this country by Mexican citizens, something the Democrats are more than happy to accommodate. In fact, Gov. Jerry Brown of California has said all Mexicans who want to move there, legal or not, are “welcome”.

    As for the second “report” on the recidivism rate, it’s simply deliberate propaganda. Trying to exclude those who managed to stay undetected here for more than a year is lying. It’s just an example of the distortions that the other side engages in. It’s like saying because someone didn’t get arrested for robbing a bank right away, then that bank wasn’t robbed. The facts don’t support them so they have to make them up.

    I saw an illegal advocate on Tucker Carlson earlier in the week and he was doing the usual attempt at justification for illegal entry by saying some countries had waiting lists of ten to twenty years to come here. So what. Just because you want something doesn’t entitle you to it. We decide who comes here. Not foreign nationals, who do not have and have never had any automatic right to immigrate here.

    • avatar

      Yes Leland

      I like Tucker too…O’Reilly quit FOX and in a way I’m glad. Not only was his alleged sexual harassment embarrassing; he’s been wishy washy on supporting amnesty. Lou Dobbs, FOX and Friends and Hannity give much clearer news too.

  2. avatar
    Edward Vanover on

    MPI, typical of leftist organizations, puts things in words that are not quite lies, but are certainly clear distortions of fact.
    As such they should be totally disregarded, as should what they’ve “studied”.

    • avatar

      Edward how do you know? We’re u there? Or it just makes sense because the border is open?….be honest n trusworthy to to yourself……otherwise everybody would be coming here

  3. avatar

    It’s a battle over resources. As long as the overpopulation from the rest of the world continues to pour into the US, we will become overpopulated and outstrip the available resources. It needs to stop immediately. No more illegal immigration, no more refugees. No more asylum from the overpopulated world. We still can remain self sufficient but the end is coming unless we do something. Trump needs to build the wall!

  4. avatar
    John Frecker on

    Not surprisingly the MPI believes we have enough border enforcement. Basing their belief on the fact that the number of illegals who say they’re going to re-enter has declined is ridiculous. A better indicator would be the number of apprehensions made by the Border Patrol and the best estimate of number of “got-aways”.

    And what about the 40%, or so, of illegal aliens who enter the U.S. via the ports of entry with visas? While a lot of attention is focused on “the wall” and interior enforcement, I’ve seen little mention of how the country is going to deal with these visa violators. If we accept the usual estimate that there are about 11 million illegal aliens in the U.S., that would mean that about 4.5 million of them came in with visas and then violated the terms of their admission.

      • avatar

        just like your family….so who gave your family the right to come here as well….same arguments were given at that time and under your expectations you wold not be here……….you must be dumb…you want to denial a legal right your family had to the legal population…..funny…..

    • avatar

      John you base your statement on what facts or fake news?…when u say ridiculous.. .I say it makes sense based on what I have seen but don’t have the facts. Overstays r also taken I to consideration read the news.