The U.S. is bordered to the North by Canada and to the South by Mexico. The border between the U.S. and Mexico is 1,969 miles long, stretching from Imperial Beach, California to Brownsville, Texas. The border between the United States and Canada is officially known as the International Boundary and is the longest border in the world, consisting of 5,525 miles, including 1,538 miles along the Alaskan-Canadian border. Civilian law enforcement enforces the Canadian-U.S. border, known as the world’s longest undefended border, militarily speaking. The Mexican border is defended by U.S. Border Control officers and has become very dangerous due to the rise in narcotics, arms and human trafficking.
Crossing the Border
An estimated 11.2 million people in the United States are considered illegal immigrants, making up over five percent of all U.S. workers—about eight million. Nearly 60 percent of all illegal immigrants come from Mexico. These figures do not account for undocumented workers. Many immigrants come to the U.S. seeking work or to escape poor political or economic climates within their own country. There is a specific immigration process leading to naturalization that includes various forms, including work permits and green cards, and financial documentation that establishes your ability to support yourself while in the United States or while becoming a U.S. citizen.
- USCIS Immigration Service Forms
- Immigration Basics
- Student Process Steps: Navigating the U.S. Immigration System
- Getting a Social Security Card
- Census: Immigration Data
- National and State Immigration Trends 2010
- Welcome to the USA!
Canadian and Mexican Borders
Drug smuggling has become an issue on both the Canadian and Mexican borders. Many in the U.S. blame border problems on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which removed most trade barriers among Mexico, Canada and the U.S. Many believe that NAFTA reduced wages in Mexico; so Mexican workers flee to the U.S. to look for work. Others argue that Mexican wages have risen since NAFTA was enacted in 1994. Although NAFTA has created commonalities economically for both the United States’ northern and southern borders, the Canadian and Mexican borders are quite different, not just in length, but in perception and use. The Canadian border is perceived to be safer than the Mexican border, although drug smuggling, notably methamphetamines, marijuana and cocaine, continues to be an issue on both borders.
- What is NAFTA?
- NAFTA Myths vs. Facts
- Canadian and Mexican Travelers
- Canadian Required Documents for U.S. Entry
- Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative
Border Patrol and Barriers
The Department of Homeland Security now controls much of the Canadian and Mexican borders. With the advent of renewed terrorism threats since 9/11, new border controls have been initiated that mandate higher levels of documentation for U.S. citizens traveling to and from Canada or Mexico; as well as Canadian and Mexican travel into and out of the United States. Border patrol officers along the Mexican-U.S. border every day capture and return Mexicans attempting to cross the border illegally. The U.S.-Mexican border relationship continues to be tense as violence and death continue to straddle the border and permeate either side of it. Lawmakers still waver back and forth on whether a border wall or fence makes sense at this point. The relationship along the Canadian-U.S. border seems tranquil by contrast.
- Border Wait Times
- U.S. Border Crossing Requirements
- Canadian/Mexican/USA Border Security Incident Map
- Officer Down Memorial Page: Border Patrol
- Border Patrol Hiring 250 New Positions
- Texas Border Refuge Cooperates with Homeland Security
Border Issues and Political Spats
One of the greatest on-going issues among U.S. lawmakers continues to be funding healthcare for undocumented workers. Arizona decided to crack down on undocumented workers and was forced into a showdown in the Supreme Court, which upheld the state’s right to penalize businesses hiring workers in the United States illegally in May 2011. Another issue includes whether children of undocumented workers should automatically be considered U.S. citizens. Another issue continues to be the dehumanization of immigrants by profiling and labeling as illegal aliens.
- Senate Bill 1070: Arizona Immigration Act
- Allowing Non-Citizens to Vote in the U.S.?
- Unauthorized Immigrants: State and Local Budget Impacts
- Economics and Policy of U.S. Illegal Immigration
- Perceptions and Realities of Illegal Immigration
- Immigration Fact Check: Top 10 Common Myths
- Los Angeles Problems with Illegal Aliens
- Selective Service Registration Chart: Aliens
- Human Smuggling and Trafficking Fact Sheet
- Southern Poverty Law Center: Getting Immigration Facts Straight
- Federation for American Immigration Reform
- H.R. 1822: No Health Care Subsidies for Illegal Aliens Act of 2011
- Snopes: Social Security for Illegal Aliens
- Supreme Court Upholds Arizona Illegal Worker Law