Blockade strategy on the U.S. Mexico border

Day 41: Immigration History 101

● 1993: The U.S. government implements a blockade strategy on the U.S. Mexico border, forcing migrants to cross through the desert
o By 2003, over 3000 people have died while trying to cross the border
▪ 1993: Operation Hold the Line (El Paso)
▪ 1994: Operation Gatekeeper (San Diego)
▪ 1994: Operation Safeguard (Tucson)

One phase defined:
Operation Gatekeeper (San Diego)
Operation Gatekeeper was a measure implemented during the Presidency of Bill Clinton by the United States Border Patrol (then a part of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS)), aimed at halting illegal immigration to the United States at the United States–Mexico border near San Diego, California.[1] According to the INS, the goal of Gatekeeper was “to restore integrity and safety to the nation’s busiest border.”

Operation Gatekeeper was announced in Los Angeles on September 17, 1994, by U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno, and was launched two weeks later on October 1.

The United States Congress allocated additional funds to the Border Patrol and other agencies. By 1997, the budget of the Immigration and Naturalization Service had doubled to 800 million dollars, the number of Border Patrol agents had nearly doubled, the amount of fencing or other barriers more than doubled, and the number of underground sensors nearly tripled.

The merits of Operation Gatekeeper were debated extensively, including during Congressional hearings. The Department of Justice, the INS, and the Border Patrol maintained that Operation Gatekeeper was a success. Some Congressmen and others sharply criticized the program and declared it a failure.

Academic Noam Chomsky has said that Operation Gatekeeper was a “militarization of the U.S.-Mexican border” and alleges it was because North American Free Trade Agreement would have increased illegal immigration into the United States; therefore, Gatekeeper was a precaution to stop future illegal immigration.Cartoon by: Bill Day, Tallahassee, FL, via

No photo description available.

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**Program created (in part) by Ana Rodriguez-BorderLinks’ (Tucson AZ)**


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