Background 

In 1994 the U.S. Border Patrol officially launched the immigration enforcement strategy known as “Prevention Through Deterrence.” This was a policy designed to discourage undocumented migrants from attempting to cross the border near urban ports of entry. With these traditional crossing points closed off, it was expected that people would then attempt to cross the border illegally in more remote and depopulated regions where the natural environment would act as a deterrent to movement. It was anticipated that the difficulties people experienced while hiking dozens of miles across what the Border Patrol deemed the “hostile terrain” of places like the Sonoran desert of Arizona would eventually discourage migrants from attempting the journey. This strategy failed to deter border crossers and instead, more than six million people have attempted to migrate through the Sonoran desert of Southern Arizona since 2000. At least 3,199 people have died, largely from dehydration and hyperthermia, while attempting this journey through Arizona. In recent years, this policy has shifted people towards Texas, where hundreds (if not thousands) have perished while migrating through unpopulated wilderness. Prevention Through Deterrence is still the primary border enforcement strategy being used on the U.S./Mexico border today.