Borders and Borderlands in the Americas

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Trinkunas, Harold
Jaskoski, Maiah
Sotomayor, Arturo
Date of Issue
"The sheer variation across the Americas in terms of cross-border flows of persons, goods, and data has created a highly complex set of challenges for states and non-state actors in this hemisphere. Globalization has accelerated and increased these flows across the Western Hemisphere's borders, within both licit and illicit networks. Traditional territorial security concerns declined in the Americas following the end of the Cold War, and NAFTA [North America Free Trade Agreement] in North America and Mercosur in the Southern Cone have promoted free trade and accompanying economic development in border regions. At the same time, other concerns pertaining to security and the market have arisen, such as the shifting of routes for narcotics and human trafficking from the Andes, Central America, and the Caribbean in the 1980s into the United States and Mexico in the last decade. This dynamic has fostered substantial illicit networks and a dramatic escalation of violence in a number of borderlands in the hemisphere. Furthermore, issues of identity and ethnicity that were disregarded during much of the 19th and early 20th centuries now present challenges to states as national majorities, indigenous populations, and inhabitants of borderlands debate issues of citizenship, migration, and even the legitimacy of existing borders. This project has sought to understand how border policies affect, and are affected by, national and subnational actor preferences, including the interaction of border policies with international, domestic, and subnational politics. We were particularly interested in the unintended consequences and conflicts that arise as states attempt to formulate and implement policies addressing different imperatives in American borderlands. This project report underscores the extent to which we find important differences between the borders and borderlands in the Americas and those in other regions of the world. This has important implications for how we foster collaborative border policies going forward in the Western Hemisphere. The report first presents the project methodology and defines how borders and borderlands in the Americas were conceptualized by participants in the project. It then presents the project's key findings and identifies avenues for future research."
Series/Report No
National Security Affairs
NPS Report Number
2012 009
Distribution Statement
Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited.
This publication is a work of the U.S. Government as defined in Title 17, United States Code, Section 101. Copyright protection is not available for this work in the United States.