New Report: Survey of Unauthorized Immigrants

May 20, 2013


To better understand the histories and motivations of immigrants who attempt to cross the U.S.-Mexico border without authorization, researchers with the National Center for Border Security and Immigration (BORDERS) interviewed 1,000 detainees in the U.S. Border Patrol Tucson Sector during the summer of 2012.

Survey approach

The research team used a 38-question survey (Appendix A) administered by bilingual interviewers to learn about the detainees’ characteristics, their current and previous border crossing attempts, and their reasons for crossing. 

Overarching questions

To address the primary goal of the study, all survey questions were related to two principal questions: (1) Do you think you will attempt to cross again in the next seven days? (2) Do you think you will return to the U.S. someday?

Interview safeguards and assurances

To encourage truthful responses, the interviewers assured the individuals that their responses would remain anonymous, that the interviewers did not work for the Border Patrol, that individual survey results would not be shared with the Border Patrol, that the individuals’ answers would not influence legal or administrative outcomes, and that the individuals could skip any question or could conclude the interview at any point.

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