In its latest newsletter , the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) – a unit of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security – suggests that migrants crossing the border illegally from Mexico into the scorching Arizona deserts are driven to do so by “emotions” and “machismo”:

“Intellectually, those considering jumping the U.S.-Mexican border realize how hot it is in the southwest during mid-summer. But somehow their emotions, their machismo, win out and they make a run for it, only to be faced with the desperate realization of just how hot the desert summer is: Deathly hot.

“When much of the U.S. was under heat advisories this summer for temperatures in the high 90s, the southwestern deserts were baking under temperatures consistently reaching 120 degrees. No shade, no pools, no air conditioning, just 120 life-sapping degrees. “




Poster [Translation: Crossing the desert isn’t as dangerous as they say. It’s worse! Before crossing over to the other side, remember: The mausoleums are filled with the brave and the macho. STOP CROSSING THE BORDER]


As a driver of illegal immigration, Machismo – an overwrought form of male chest-thumping, often manifested as excessive aggressiveness and physicality, and topped off with chauvinistic domination of women – seems an unlikely culprit. Even ignoring the sad reality that many border-crossers are women and children, this blogger would challenge the CBP assertion that studliness plays the primary role in pushing hordes of desperate people into the summer inferno of America’s southwestern deserts.

Machismo – no; but emotions – probably. Fear, desperation, depression – yes, these emotions likely play a big part in desert-traversing illegal migration. Fear of starvation, desperation that one’s children will live the same miserable, impoverished existence as their parents, depression (both emotional and economic) – these are the emotional drivers that compel people to take such life-threatening risks.

With deaths near the border at an all-time high, it’s time to find a better way to manage the centuries-old reality of border crossings at our southern border. Douglas S. Massey, a Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs at Princeton, suggests a more humane and enlightened approach to this reality on the ground. Massey suggests that the U.S. will not stem undocumented migration by walling off the country or extending the welcome mat to all comers; instead he maintains that our borders must be reasonably regulated on a binational basis. It makes no sense, Massey notes, in pushing U.S. green card holders to naturalize as soon as possible because predictably that will only increase the already several-years-long waiting time to reach the head of the queue in the immigrant visa quota. He also notes that it makes no sense for Canada and Mexico, the two nations that share the North American continent with us, to receive the same annual allotment of immigrant visa numbers as such less strategically important countries as Botswana, Nepal, and Paraguay.

Just as DHS failed to protect our water border at New Orleans, the agency has been unable to prevent or minimize the tragic loss of lives in our desert southwest. Our country can do better than offering flip labels. We need less psycho-babble and more economically enlightened and humane immigration laws. Then, the emotions we’d all likely see manifesting would be hope and optimism rather than fear, desperation and depression.