Immigration crisis is likely to get worse before it gets better, Baker Institute expert says

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July 14, 2014


David Ruth


Jeff Falk


Immigration crisis is likely to get worse before it gets better, Baker Institute expert says
Payan: Nation’s inability to deal with immigration reform is having serious consequences

HOUSTON – (July 15, 2014) – As the debate over Central American migration continues to dominate national headlines, the United States’ immigration crisis is likely to get worse before it gets better if Congress and President Barack Obama do not act on immigration reform, according to Tony Payan, the Françoise and Edward Djerejian Fellow for Mexico Studies at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy and director of the Baker Institute’s Mexico Center.


Payan is available to comment on national immigration reform, the current Central American migration stream and U.S. border security.

“The inability of the House of Representatives to deal with immigration reform — whether on the basis of 2013 Senate Bill 744 or on its own terms — and President Obama’s dismal leadership on the issue are having serious consequences inside and outside the federal government,” Payan said. “Moreover, the political gridlock on immigration reform may be strengthening the hand of organized criminal groups in Central America, undermining U.S. foreign policy efforts in the region.

At least half of all undocumented migrants to the United States now come from Central America, where economic and public safety conditions continue to deteriorate, Payan said. “As the American economy continues its recovery, these strong ‘push factors’ of migration will be coupled with ‘pull factors’ in the United States like political stability and job opportunities, which also motivate migrants to make the trek north. A surge of undocumented immigrants is ever more likely under these conditions in the next few years.”

In addition to being a Baker Institute fellow, Payan is an associate professor of political science at the University of Texas at El Paso and serves on the graduate faculty of the Universidad Autónoma de Juárez in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. His area of study is international relations, with an emphasis on U.S. and Mexican foreign policy and U.S.-Mexico relations. He is the author of “The Three U.S.-Mexico Border Wars: Drugs, Immigration and Homeland Security” and other books.

The Baker Institute has a radio and television studio available for media who want to schedule an interview with Payan. For more information, contact Jeff Falk, associate director of national media relations at Rice, at or 713-348-6775.


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Baker Institute Mexico Center:

Founded in 1993, Rice University’s Baker Institute ranks among the top 15 university-affiliated think tanks in the world. As a premier nonpartisan think tank, the institute conducts research on domestic and foreign policy issues with the goal of bridging the gap between the theory and practice of public policy. The institute’s strong track record of achievement reflects the work of its endowed fellows, Rice University faculty scholars and staff, coupled with its outreach to the Rice student body through fellow-taught classes — including a public policy course — and student leadership and internship programs. Learn more about the institute at or on the institute’s blog,

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