Options for Estimating
Illegal Entries at the
Panel on Survey Options for Estimating the Flow of
Unauthorized Crossings at the U.S.–Mexican Border
Alicia Carriquiry and Malay Majmundar, Editors
Committee on National Statistics
Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education
NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL
OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance.
Support of the work of the Committee on National Statistics is provided by a consortium of federal agencies through a grant from the National Science Foundation (No. SES-1024012). The project that is the subject of this report was supported by an allocation from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to the National Science Foundation under this grant. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organizations or agencies that provided support for the project.
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Suggested citation: National Research Council. (2013). Options for Estimating Illegal Entries at the U.S.–Mexico Border. Panel on Survey Options for Estimating the Flow of Unauthorized Crossings at the U.S.–Mexican Border, A. Carriquiry and M. Majmundar, Eds. Committee on National Statistics, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
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ALICIA CARRIQUIRY (Chair), Department of Statistics, Iowa State University
DAVID L. BANKS, Department of Statistical Sciences, Duke University
PETER BROWNELL, RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, CA
STEPHEN E. FIENBERG, Department of Statistics, Carnegie Mellon University
MARK S. HANDCOCK, Department of Statistics, University of California, Los Angeles
GORDON HANSON, Department of Economics, University of California, San Diego
VIRGINIA LESSER, Department of Statistics, Oregon State University
PIA ORRENIUS, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas
JEFFREY S. PASSEL, Pew Hispanic Center, Washington, DC
FERNANDO RIOSMENA, Institute of Behavioral Science and Geography Department, University of Colorado
SILVIA ELENA GIORGULI SAUCEDO, Center for Demographic, Urban, and Environmental Studies, El Colegio de Mexico
MALAY MAJMUNDAR, Study Director
HOMAS J. PLEWES, Senior Program Officer
MICHAEL J. SIRI, Program Associate
LAWRENCE BROWN (Chair), Department of Statistics, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania
JOHN M. ABOWD, School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Cornell University
DAVID CARD, Department of Economics, University of California, Berkeley
ALICIA CARRIQUIRY, Department of Statistics, Iowa State University
CONSTANTINE GATSONIS, Center for Statistical Sciences, Brown University
JAMES S. HOUSE, Survey Research Center, Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan
MICHAEL HOUT, Survey Research Center, University of California, Berkeley
SALLIE KELLER, University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
LISA LYNCH, Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University
SALLY MORTON, Graduate School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh
RUTH PETERSON, Criminal Justice Research Center, The Ohio State University
EDWARD H. SHORTLIFFE, Columbia University and Arizona State University
HAL STERN, Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences, University of California, Irvine
JOHN THOMPSON, National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago
ROGER TOURANGEAU, Statistical Group, Westat, Rockville, MD
CONSTANCE F. CITRO, Director
In 2011, at the request of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Committee on National Statistics at the National Research Council (NRC) appointed the Panel on Survey Options for Estimating the Flow of Unauthorized Crossings at the U.S.–Mexican Border to provide guidance on the use of surveys and other methodologies to estimate the number of unauthorized crossings at the U.S.–Mexico border. This report represents the final product of the panel.
The panel held its first in-person meeting (in conjunction with a public workshop) in November 2011. It held a second in-person meeting in January 2012. Several panel members participated in a field trip to the Tucson and San Diego sectors of the U.S.–Mexico border prior to the January meeting and had an opportunity to meet with U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) agents, observe the processing of apprehended migrants in the Tucson sector, tour the Nogales and the Chula Vista sections of the border fence, and see the remote sensing facility in the San Diego sector. These panel members were encouraged to ask questions about all aspects of border enforcement and received valuable information from USBP agents. The panel held its final in-person meeting in March 2012. In May 2012, several panel members traveled to Tijuana, Mexico, where they were hosted by researchers at El Colegio de la Frontera Norte (COLEF) and learned about data collection for the Survey of Migration at the Northern Border (EMIF-N).
This report would not have been possible without the contributions of many people. Special thanks go to the members of the panel, who dedicated time, thought, and energy to the report. The panel worked very well together and, due to its professional diversity, was well-positioned to address
the complex problem of illegal migration at the southwestern border of the United States. Special thanks also go to Michael Hoefer, Director of the Office of Immigration Statistics at DHS, who played a key role in developing this study and who served as the Department’s liaison with the panel during the course of its work.
The panel learned much from discussions on surveys and other data initiatives at the November 2011 workshop, where presentations were made by Mark Borkowski, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, DHS; Alfredo Bustos, Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía (INEGI); Wayne Cornelius, University of California, San Diego; Elizabeth Grieco, U.S. Census Bureau; Douglas Massey, Princeton University; Elsa Pérez Paredes, INEGI; Jeffrey Passel, Pew Hispanic Center; Michael Rendall, University of Maryland; Melissa Scopilliti, U.S. Census Bureau; and Duncan Thomas, Duke University. The work of the panel was also informed by the trips made by several members to the southwest U.S. border and to Tijuana, Mexico—arranged, respectively, by Luke Lopez of U.S. Customs and Border Protection and by Marie-Laure Coubes and Rene Zenteno from COLEF. Finally, the panel is grateful to Michael Hoefer for providing useful information about the general structure and content of DHS administrative data1 and for his assistance in advancing the panel’s data request within DHS.
Several members of the staff of the NRC made significant contributions to the report. Malay Majmundar served as study director for the panel and was instrumental to the success of the panel’s work. He made sure that all the i’s were dotted and t’s were crossed in the report’s substantive and technical discussions, kept the panel engaged in the project and abreast of developments, and wrote significant portions of initial drafts of the report. Michael Siri provided key administrative support to the panel and efficiently organized meetings and field trips. Thanks are also due to Kirsten Sampson Snyder for helping guide the report through review, Robert Katt for skillful editing, and Yvonne Wise for managing the production process. Tom Plewes provided valuable guidance and oversight during the course of the study, and his many years of experience and knowledge of the NRC study process are gratefully acknowledged. Connie Citro was helpful as usual and provided many valuable comments and suggestions.
This final report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen
1 During a briefing with DHS immediately prior to the public release of this report, the panel received additional clarifying information regarding the structure and content of DHS administrative data. Specifically, it learned that although the data are not integrated across the constituent agencies of DHS for “analytical purposes,” they are so for “enforcement” purposes. Although this did not change the panel’s conclusions or the thrust of its recommendations, text was added to the report in the Summary, Chapter 5, and Recommendation 5.1 to reflect this distinction.
for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the Report Review Committee of the NRC. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that assist the institution in making its reports as sound as possible and to ensure that the reports meet institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process.
The panel thanks the following individuals for their review of the report: Frank D. Bean, Center for Research on Immigration, Population and Public Policy, University of California, Irvine; Víctor Alfredo Bustos y de la Tijera, Office of the Deputy Director General, National Institute of Statistics and Geography, Aguascalientes City, Mexico; Rebecca L. Clark, Demographic and Behavioral Sciences Branch, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development; Krista J. Gile, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Massachusetts; Joel L. Horowitz, Department of Economics, Northwestern University; Roderick J. Little, Department of Biostatistics, School of Public Health, University of Michigan; Douglas S. Massey, Department of Sociology, Princeton University; Hal S. Stern, Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences, University of California, Irvine; and Victoria Velkoff, Assistant Division Chief, Population Estimates and Projections, Population Division, U.S. Census Bureau.
Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of the report was overseen by John Rolph, University of Southern California, and Charles Manski, Northwestern University. Appointed by the NRC, they were responsible for making certain that the independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of the report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the National Research Council.
Alicia Carriquiry, Chair
Panel on Survey Options for Estimating the Flow of Unauthorized Crossings at the U.S.–Mexican Border