USC Price School of Public Policy

TRPI Launches New Migration Tracking Tool

Global Reach:

Tomas Rivera Policy Institute Launches New Migration Tracking Tool

By Anna Fischer

Tomas Rivera Policy Institute Information is collected for the Border Survey of Mexican Migration, a research program tracking original data on the number of people crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.

The Tomas Rivera Policy Institute at USC, a university research center housed in the USC Price School of Public Policy, and El Colegio de la Frontera Norte (COLEF), a government-funded social science research institution in Tijuana, collaborated on a project aimed at tracking migration across the U.S.-Mexico border on a comprehensive and timely basis.

The Mexican Migration Monitor is a new Web-based report presenting key trends in the ongoing and evolving movement of people between Mexico and the United States. The methodology behind the monitor involves developing a composite picture using multiple sources of publicly available information in combination with previously unpublished data from the Border Survey of Mexican Migration, which was conducted by COLEF with the support of Mexican government agencies.

In recent weeks the migration monitor received extensive media coverage in the United States and Mexico, including a lead story in USA Today and an Associated Press article that appeared in multiple media outlets.

Tonatiuh Guillen Lopez, president of COLEF, made a visit in October to the University Park Campus, where senior administrators and faculty from USC and COLEF discussed potential future collaborations. Jack H. Knott, dean of USC Price, served as host for the visit. Publication of the report on the migration monitor was made possible through support granted to the Tomás Rivera Policy Institute by Knott and Elizabeth Garrett, USC provost and senior vice president of academic affairs.

The aim of the migration monitor was to analyze various types of data from different sources in the hope of developing a composite picture of migration trends. That picture will be tentative because the monitor seeks to publish the most recent, reliable data. Such statistics are subject to revision, and their real significance is sometimes apparent only in retrospect.

The indicators presented in the report included government statistics on population, employment and enforcement actions. The core findings were formulated on the basis of previously unpublished data from the Border Survey of Mexican Migration. Operating since 1993, the survey is the oldest continuous research program tracking original data on the number of people crossing the U.S.-Mexico border legally or illegally. The survey offers a unique glimpse at the size and characteristics of migration in both directions across the border based on data assembled on a quarterly basis.

No government agency attempts to measure the north and south movements that comprise Mexican migration flows. Enforcement agencies keep an accounting of their own actions, but these do not measure actual migration. The number of apprehensions along the southwest U.S. border, for example, does not distinguish among individuals who are picked up multiple times nor does it account for the people who evade apprehension.

Roberto Suro, who holds appointments at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism and USC Price, serves as director of the Tomás Rivera Policy Institute, one of the nation’s leading think tanks on the Latino population.

Rene Zenteno, the former undersecretary of population, migration and religious affairs in the Ministry of the Interior in Mexico and currently professor of sociology and demography, led the project for COLEF.