Box 1-1
Statement of Task

An ad hoc panel of experts will evaluate survey options to estimate the number of foreign nationals who attempt illegal entry across the U.S.–Mexican land border each year and/or the probability of apprehension of illegal entrants. The panel will evaluate currently available and potential survey sources for estimating the number of foreign nationals who attempt illegal entry and/or the probability of apprehension of illegal entrants. These sources will include surveys currently conducted in the United States and in Mexico by both government and nongovernment entities. As part of its evaluation, the panel may consider options for initiating new survey-based data collection, modifying existing surveys, and combining data from different sources. The panel will also review the administrative data sources that the Department of Homeland Security is currently evaluating for estimating the illegal flow in order to inform the survey options. The administrative sources include, but are not limited to, apprehension and re-apprehension rates, agency estimates, results of consequence programs, interviews with apprehended foreign nationals, and results of sensor activity. In addition to survey and administrative data, the panel may also consider various modeling methodologies. The panel will provide guidance on survey implementation and cost estimates under various options. The panel will also evaluate the possibilities of collecting information through surveys that could enable estimation of annual flow and/or the probability of apprehension of illegal entrants on a quarterly basis and for particular regions of the U.S.–Mexican border. The panel will issue a report with findings and recommendations.

migrants. Chapter 3 outlines the features of the major surveys in the United States and Mexico that collect information about migration and border crossing, and Chapter 4 lays out their usefulness and limitations for estimating flows. Chapter 5 then assesses the usefulness of DHS administrative data for measuring the flow of unauthorized migrants into the United States. Finally, Chapter 6 discusses aspects of model-based approaches that would combine information from a variety of sources, including surveys and administrative data.

The panel also notes that although the Office of Immigration Statistics in DHS is not a “statistical agency” per se, it is nevertheless considered a “statistical program” by the Office of Management and Budget (U.S. Office of Management and Budget, 2011) and, as such, would benefit from adhering to the broader principles of good statistical practice as carried out in the federal statistical system (National Research Council, 2009). The panel’s conclusions and recommendations, particularly with regard to the availability of administrative data in DHS’s enforcement database, are informed by this presumption.

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