Border Control: A Mixed Method Approach to Mexican Immigration to The U.S


A person can be termed as an illegal immigrant when he/she enters a country without due inspection, approval, or possesses flawed documents such as an expired VISA or a fake VISA. The 2007 Pew Hispanic Center report shows that the people who had migrated to U.S. without the government’s permission were mostly from Mexico (Colton- Sonnenberg 5).

In addition to this, most of the inmates in the United States prisons are illegal immigrants from Mexico. Payan points out that in 2006, 24.9% of prisoners In California, 48.2% of prisoners in New Mexico, and 40.1% of prisoners in Arizona were immigrants from Mexico (66).

The debate of illegal immigrants has intensified since the start of recession in 2007. This has led to limiting the chances of the Mexican illegal immigrants since some natives claim that illegal aliens are replacing their labor.

Some states such as Arizona and California have taken an approach of curbing the Mexicans immigration into United States due to a number of factors including increased cost for the government, increased crime rate, and limited job opportunities in United States.

In spite the fact that a number of policies have been implemented, there has been very little impact on their effectiveness. Some feel that imposing employer fine would be the best way to deal with the Mexican illegal immigrants; others feel that increasing border control by building a wall will serve the role of reducing the Mexican illegal immigrants.

In contrast to this, other people feel that giving the illegal immigrants a work permit will help to curb diverse costs associated with illegal immigrants, and at the same time enhance cohesion between the United States and Mexico.

Background of the study

It is a controversy that illegal immigrants invade foreign countries for better life but instead end up living a life of concealing their identity. This leads to lack of access to the social amenities of a country. In United States, the immigrants’ health care services can only be delivered from an emergency department (Kosoko-Lasaki et al. 256).

What makes it worse is that some immigrants seek for emergency care when their diagnosis tests do not account for emergency treatment. These include simple diagnosis such as headaches, and coughs among other simple diagnosis tests.

This leads to an added cost on the United States government since the illegal immigrants tend to spend less on the health care institution as they have little or no interactions with the health care workers.This emanates from the fact that the immigrants do not posses health insurance and do not stand a position of getting one.

Lack of seeking health care attention has serious implication on the overall health status of the United States citizens. This is based from the fact that the immigrants have high chances of spreading communicable diseases since the serious medical conditions are only reported at their final stages. Lack of valid documents induces fear of being noticed as this may lead to deportation or arrest.

Over a decade, the image of the illegal Mexican immigrants has been tainted since they are perceived as criminals by the government and the citizens as well. In 1997, a statement from the Immigration and Claims House Judiciary Subcommittee said that they were unable to control the rampant Mexican drug cartels due to continuous illegal immigration (Djajić 34).

Hence, the Mexican aliens controlled United States through drug smuggling. The drug cartels used illegal immigrants as their source of labor in marijuana cultivation in California forests such as Los Padres and Six Rivers National forests (39).

Illegal immigrants from Mexico have thus been associated with gang violence with an estimate of fourteen hundred aliens arrested in 2005 over gang violence. Salvadoran gang that was established in Mexico has caused a lot of violence due to its confrontation with the border patrol security. The gang members planned to kill all the border patrol agents using the most violent gang members (Payan 75).

Schriftenreihe carried out quantitative research study that shows that illegal immigrants are a threat to the United States. He calculated the number of illegal immigrants in correctional facilities as well as the cost they have accrued.

According to his research findings, the number of illegal aliens in U.S. prisons and jails in the year 2003 was 267,000. The United States federal government used an estimated $1.4 billion dollars in 2004 to imprison the criminal illegal immigrants (Schriftenreihe 14).

The taxpayers regard the issue of illegal immigrants as costly after carrying out a comparison between the costs and the benefits of the immigrants. They would prefer their money to be used in restricting these immigrants through deportation and border security instead of jailing them.

The taxpayers’ money, which amounted to around $5.6 billion, was used to account for immigration law enforcement as well as border security in order to restrict illegal immigrants from United States (Schriftenreihe 15).

However, The rate at which crimes are committed by the illegal immigrants from Mexico is unknown since the country lacks a comprehensive prove that the jailed or arrested criminals are legal or illegal immigrants from Mexico as most of the immigrant in United States provide false information due to fear of deportation or arrest.

Hence, due to the presence of diverse ethnic groups in United States, it is hard to draw conclusive correlation between Mexican immigration and crime.

Despite the fact that prison figures are the measures of the number of immigrant criminals, the unreported cases and petty crimes that do not account for imprisonment are never monitored. Some crimes committed by immigrants do not warrant arrest especially minor crimes as well as crimes committed by juveniles along the borderline.

The border patrol agents employed along the border deport illegal immigrants instead of arresting them. Thus, the figures of the deported immigrants are never included in the national crime statistics (Weissinger 149).

Research shows that illegal immigrants face many significant dangers, which sometimes include death and imprisonment. Since the U.S. police agents always guard the borders, immigrants prefer using dangerous routes to migrate to United States.

Most of the aliens walk through deserts and some of them die of dehydration and starvation. Statistics from national Human Rights Commission in Mexico show that, a number of illegal immigrants die while trying to resist arrest by border patrol agents (Stacy 394).

Amnesty international has been concerned with the number of illegal immigrants’ deaths due to excessive brutality. The issues of concern include excessive force and cruelty, and inhuman treatment such as sexual assault, lack of food and medical attention, beatings, and lack of water and shelter (395).

On the other hand, illegal immigrants from Mexico have added some value to the economy of the United States. Research shows that the Mexican illegal immigrants have a quick response towards the United States economy unlike the United States citizens (Schriftenreihe 12).

This is clearly indicated by the Mexicans who immigrate to United States when the economy is booming. Therefore, the Mexican immigrants provide U.S. with the kind of workers they want at the right time. In addition to this, the Mexican immigrants are able to do diverse odd jobs that the U.S citizens cannot do. Hence, these illegal immigrants do not cost as much in social services than the tasks they handle on a day-to-day basis.

Research question

The background of the study points out that border security is faced with a number of shortcomings. This makes it hard for the government to account for better economic and social status between the United States and the illegal immigrants from Mexico.

Controlling the border by building a wall that separates Mexico and United States is a less practical approach than providing the Mexican immigrants with work permits. Therefore, this research study poses the question below

  • Will the Mexican immigrants enhance social and economic growth between the United States and Mexico if provided with a work permit?


In this section of the study, I will describe how the research was conducted. I will discuss in details the instruments used in this study and its design, the sampling, and the procedure that was followed in collecting and analyzing data.

Design of the Study

The study used both qualitative and quantitative designs, and the population involved the Mexican illegal immigrants as well the border control officers.

The study made a careful observation of the data from the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) in order to establish the validity of the immigrants’ status, reported crimes, the arrests, and the number of immigrants who are deported back to Mexico as well as the reasons for their deportation.

This qualitative and quantitative design involved a set of dependent and independent variables. The dependent variable included attitude of the illegal immigrants towards the government, and the attitude of the government towards the Mexican illegal immigrants. The independent variables included age, and gender of the immigrants.

Sample Size

A sample population of 200 participants was taken out of more than one thousand people living in California. The California state was considered a viable state for selecting immigrants sample size since it has some records of criminal activities committed by the Mexican immigrants. Djajić supports this as he points out that the drug cartels in United States used illegal immigrants as their source of labor in marijuana cultivation in some California forests (39).

The sample size for the illegal immigrants was based on a non-random sampling since its main target was to come up with a sample of immigrants from Mexico. The sample also consisted of a sample size of 20 officers from the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) who were also selected in a non-random manner.

These officers participated in interviews and thereafter provided immigrants information through observations. The study used data collected from the immigration office, witnesses’ testimonies from courts houses, and immigrants’ confessions in order facilitate an accurate analysis of the data.

Instruments Used

The instruments that were used in this study include questionnaires, interviews and observations as these played a critical role in ensuring that the relevant quantitative and qualitative data related to the immigrants’ information is collected.

The validity of the instruments used was attained by coming up with a set of questions and observations that were vital in evaluating the immigrants’ attitudes toward the police force, and provides the relevant data that would serve to clarify the status of the immigrants while in United States.

The questionnaire assessed the immigrants’ point of view on diverse areas in United States. A questionnaire is a critical instrument in a research study since it facilitates easy access of information based on personal opinions.

Moreover, a questionnaire is easy to analyse, familiar to most people, less intrusive than telephone or face-to-face surveys, cost-effective as compared to face-to-face interviews, and gives room for privacy since the questions can be answered in an anonymous manner (Silverman 39).

On the other hand, the instrument that was used for assessing the attitude of the criminal justice system towards the Mexican immigrants was interview, which was later followed by observations. The participants of this interview were officers from the INS.

Interviews played a crucial part in this study since the researcher was able to understand fully the attitude of the government and the criminal justice system concerning the illegal immigrants from Mexico. Despite the fact that the use of interviews and observations as data collection methods were complex and expensive, they facilitated access to an in-depth qualitative data in a cohesive manner.


Before selecting the sample from the Mexican illegal immigrants, the researcher obtained consent of the participants through mails and telephone calls as this helped to portray the point of the participants’ interest. Hence, the study was characterized with content validity.

Content validity is defined as the extent to which a device used in research represents the content of interest for the respondents (Silverman 41). The researcher achieved this by giving brief information about the study and its aims to each of the participants. This information read as follows

This questionnaire is provided to be a part of a study in a research course for Mexican immigrants in United States. This study aims at assessing whether providing work permit to Mexican immigrants has a positive impact on social and economic growth of Mexico and United States. The study will take into consideration that every detail provided is fully confidential. Thank you for your cooperation”.

Before coming up with a proposed method of carrying out a research that involved immigrants, it was vital to outline the appropriate approach and language to use while obtaining information from the immigrants (Amelina 17).

Therefore, the researcher analysed his approach and then asked some expert colleagues to check the design of the questionnaire in order to enhance the validity of the questions. Thereafter, the researcher provided the immigrants with the questionnaire after being given an assurance of their safety within and after the research study. This was achieved by fully protecting their confidential information.

This questionnaire consisted of two parts. The first part aimed at collecting quantitative data concerning the immigrants. This part included three fixed-response items, where immigrants could choose between two possible answers.

It was relevant to focus on collecting cultural information of the immigrant in order to identify the eligible immigrants for a job permit (Holliday and Martin 74). Therefore, the immigrants’ background information including their gender, health status, and age were collected.

The second part of the questionnaire aimed at collecting both quantitative and qualitative information concerning the immigrants. This part included 10 fixed-response items that used a scale where 1 equals strongly disagree, while 10 equals strongly agree. This scale enabled the immigrants to specify the extent of their agreement or disagreement to a particular question.

The scale was chosen since it is an effective method of acquiring opinions as well as attitudes of the participants (Silverman 43). The 10 items intended to assess immigrants’ attitudes toward the rules of the United States- Mexican border, crime along the borderlines, opportunities in United States, access to social amenities in United States, and criminal justice system in United States.

The research was carried out in a systematic way to the point that none of the participants had any difficulties in answering the questions. This could be due to the simple English used and the presence of clear instructions before each part of the questionnaire. Some of the guiding instructions used in the questionnaire included:

  • Please answer the following questions by placing a tick (√) if you feel you are in agreement with the statement.
  • You are free to place a cross (X) if you disagree with the statement.
  • Please choose only one answer and indicate the extent to which you agree or disagree with the following statements where 1 means I highly disagree, and 10 equals I highly agree.
  • Why do you agree/disagree with the above statement?

Using the word “Why” after every question in the second part of the questionnaire was paramount since it helped the researcher to obtain the qualitative data that backed up the quantitative data of the study (Holliday 46).

Therefore, the questionnaire served a critical role in helping the researcher obtain quantitative and qualitative information concerning the immigrants’ attitude towards the United States, and whether providing them with a work permit would enhance their lives as well as the lives of the natives in United States.

The data on the immigrants’ status was further collected by observing the behavior of the immigrants. The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) officers were requested to provide a number of immigrants’ criminal cases recorded in the office within a period of 10 years.

The researcher used observation as a data collection method in order to assess the behavioral trend and the lifestyle of the immigrants from time to time.

This data played a critical role since it served the role of assessing the opportunities the immigrants seek for, how often the immigrants use health care facilitates, how often the immigrants engage themselves in criminal activities, and the proceedings of the unlawful acts in the courts of law among other activities.

The INS officers obtained these records through the healthcare institutions, diverse companies, police stations, and the courts of law in order to countercheck the validity of the responses provided by the illegal immigrants.

Outcome of My Investigation

Although the data collection methods used were associated with a certain degree of complexity, the researcher managed to analyse this data successfully. The quantitative data was analysed using the Excel package, and the findings were presented in form of percentages.

This study enabled the researcher to obtain the mean and standard deviation that helped the researcher to assess the immigrants’ opinion towards the United States government as well as the government opinion towards the Mexican immigrant. The outcome of my investigation in turn helped to evaluate whether it is practical to provide the Mexican illegal immigrants with work permits.

According to this research, 95 % of the immigrants fear visiting the health care facilities except in emergency cases. 75% of the people who use Mexican border are male aged below 35 years. 93% of the immigrants come to U.S. to seek for odd jobs. 86% of the immigrants responded as having fear of committing crime while in United States. 26 % of the immigrants responded as having committed crime along the United States- Mexico border. 71% of the immigrants preferred passing along other means other than the border. 70 % of the immigrants claimed to have invalid documents. 89 % of immigrants have a negative attitude towards the U.S. government and the criminal justice system. On the other hand, 77 % of the United States government officials and the criminal justice system have a negative attitude towards the Mexican immigrants.


It is paramount to mention and to understand that this study is not perfect, and it has its limitations. One of the main limitations of this study is the sample size. This short scale study cannot be generalized because the sample size is too small.

Moreover, such a small sample size could seriously affect the results. In addition, the researcher discovered that some of the items in the questionnaire needed to have been rewritten to overcome their vagueness. Therefore, it is recommended for future research to conduct a pilot study before the actual application of the instrument since it will help to overcome any misleading or vague question.


This study shows that there is a very wide gap of distrust between the illegal immigrants and the government of the United States. This results from the government’s negative attitude towards the illegal immigrants. The United States perceive the Mexican immigrants as drug cartels. This might have resulted from a number of criminal activities that Mexicans have engaged themselves into while passing along the border as well in the United States.

However, it is irrational to assume that majority of the Mexican illegal immigrants are criminals. Research shows that majority of the Mexican illegal immigrants fear committing crime; hence, vast majorities of these immigrants only commit the crime of being in the country illegally (Djajić 41).

The Mexican immigrants are mostly young healthy men who are strong and come to seek for odd jobs in United States. These people invade United States in search of better living conditions for themselves and their families, and hence add value to the United States. Kosoko-Lasaki et al. asserts that the illegal immigrants from Mexico work so hard at odd jobs to gain means of livelihood and in the process contribute to the economy’s growth (263).

From this point of view, the Mexican immigrants should be given work permits that would facilitate payment of taxes as the rest of the citizens. The work permits will enable them to stand a position of acquiring health insurance policy that will in turn reduce the government’s cost since they would stop seeking for medical attention from emergency rooms.

Providing the Mexican immigrants with work permits will eliminate negative attitude of the United States criminal justice system and enhance social cohesion between the United States and Mexico. It is irrational to assume that all the Mexican illegal immigrants in prisons are criminals.

Apart from identity theft ,most of the Mexican Illegal immigrants end up in prisons mostly due to biased judgments in the criminal justice system as the illegal immigrant have less access to advocates (Djajić 44). Therefore, providing work permit for the Mexican immigrants will eliminate the rate at which Mexican immigrants are imprisoned and hence, improve the Image of the immigrants.

In addition to this, the criminal activities that happen along the borderline will be reduced to a certain level. This will result from the fact that majority of the Mexicans will have confidence with the border’s office as well as the border patrols and hence, reduce the temptation of fighting with the patrol officers.

This will also facilitate easy transition since many people will not make attempts of migrating to United States through other means such as climbing over the border wall. Therefore, the rate of death that results from resisting arrest by border patrol agents will decrease.

Summary and conclusion

Many research findings have established that the Mexican illegal immigrants’ costs outweigh the benefits to the government. However, these immigrants can also contribute to a positive impact on the economy of the United States since they are a source of labor in the country.

This positive contribution can be achieved by providing immigrants with a work permit since it will facilitate reduction of the rate of crimes committed by Mexican immigrants and hence, improve the economic growth of the U.S. through taxes.

In addition to this, giving of work permit to immigrants will help to reduce the high cost of fighting crimes such as law enforcement and border protection.

This approach will also provide room for social cohesion between the U.S. criminal justice system and the immigrants. This is due to the fact the Mexican immigrants encounter various challenges due to poor social relations between them and the United States government.

As a result, the immigrants tend to deal with this gap by concealing their identity, which in turn leads to an extra cost to the government. Such acts include refraining from medical attention, committing crime along the borderline, and passing through other means instead of the office of United States- Mexican border.

In addition, giving work permit to Mexican immigrants will help to save the cost of running prisons that are full of Mexican immigrants who are only petty offenders. These petty offenders include Mexican immigrants who do not commit crime but lack original documents for immigration.

This will help to reduce extra cost that result from the illegal immigrants. Thus, the government will have an opportunity of dealing with the serious crimes committed by the immigrants such as robbery, murder, and car theft among others.

It is therefore paramount to adopt the strategy of giving work permits to Mexican immigrants since many citizens of the U.S. believe that the border fence and border control agents are not effective in prohibiting illegal immigrants.


Amelina (17) affirms that ethnic/cultural diversity attracts a certain level of innovation due to different working styles and approaches used by the diverse groups. Due to this reason, I would recommend that the United States should give work permits to the Mexican immigrants, as this will facilitate positive social and economic impact that result from these immigrants.

With regard to this point of view, the strong and the competent immigrants from Mexico should be provided with an opportunity for working in diverse areas at times when the market is viable. All the odd jobs that the United States citizens cannot handle should be handed over to the Mexican immigrants who demonstrate willingness and capability. Besides economic growth for the immigrants, this will also facilitate a coexistence of a safe neighborhood.

Works cited

Amelina, Anna. “Searching for an Appropriate Research Strategy on Transnational Migration: The Logic of Multi-Sited Research and the Advantage of the Cultural Interferences Approach.” In Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung 11 (2010):17.

Colton- Sonnenberg, Ana. The Present Debate about Illegal Immigration. Munich: GRIN Verlag, 2008.

Djajić, Slobodan. International Migration: Trends, Policies, and Economic Impact. London: Routledge, 2001.

Holliday, Adrian, Martin Hyde, and John Kullman. Intercultural Communication: An Advanced Resource Book for Students. London: Routledge, 2010.

Holliday, Adrian. Doing and Writing Qualitative Research. London: SAGE, 2002.

Kosoko-Lasaki, Sade, Cynthia T. Cook, and Richard L. O’Brien. Cultural Proficiency in Addressing Health Disparities. Sudbury, Mass: Jones and Bartlett Publishers, 2009.

Payan, Tony. The Three U.s.-Mexico Border Wars. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2006.

Schriftenreihe, Akademische. Weighing the Costs and Benefits of Mexican Immigration. Munich: GRIN Verlag, 2010.

Silverman, David. Interpreting Qualitative Data: Methods for Analyzing Talk, Text and Interaction. London: SAGE, 2006.

Stacy, Lee. Mexico and the United States. New York: Marshall Cavendish, 2003.

Weissinger, George. Law Enforcement and the Ins: A Participant Observation Study of Control Agents. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1996.

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