The Three U.S.-Mexico Border Wars
Drugs, Immigration, and Homeland Security, 2nd Edition
by Tony Payan
October 2016, 255pp, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-3541-4
$63, £49, 55€, A87
Please contact your preferred distributor for pricing.
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-3542-1
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A policy change regarding the United States-Mexico border is overdue.

This book addresses the three central issues that continue to dominate the U.S.-Mexico relationship today: drugs, immigration, and security. Nowhere is this more palpable than at the 2,000-mile border shared by the two countries.

The U.S.-Mexico border remains a hot topic in the news—and a contentious one. This second edition of a popular work brings readers up to date on what is really going on at the U.S.-Mexico border and why. The book offers a detailed, history-based examination of the evolution of current conditions on the border, arguing that they exist due to a steady growth in the security concerns of the United States over almost two centuries. The author shows how the border has gone through four historical stages that, ultimately, have crippled the region, sacrificing its ability to produce prosperity in exchange for greater security.

Combining depth and breadth, the book covers the economic relationship between Mexico and the United States, the deployment of technology, the bureaucratic interests that control the border landscape, the democratic deficit, and a detrimental lack of policy coordination. Issues such as drug trafficking and homeland security are considered as well. Demonstrating the internal and contradictory logic of American policy toward the border, the author argues that current conditions could lead to a return of authoritarianism in Mexico and a concurrent rise in anti-American sentiment.


  • Provides a historical perspective that is necessary to understand today's border conflicts
  • Includes new coverage of weapons trafficking, human trafficking, the diversified activities of organized crime, the role of drug consumption in America, the decay of the border infrastructure, the militarization of the border, and the effects of Arizona's immigration policy changes
  • Challenges current views about the border as unsafe, unstable, crime-riddled, and a burden on the nation
  • Portrays the border as a place of hope in need of better management rather than reinforcement of the security regime that has prevailed in the last decades
  • Includes a chapter on the Peña government and its effect on the binational relationship, the war on the Cartels, and escalation of violence
  • Draws on the author's current research and interviews with new government actors
  • Offers penetrating analysis and sound policy recommendations, particularly on how to achieve a truly binational border management system
  • Features a new final chapter that projects the future of the border over the next 25 years
Tony Payan, PhD, is director of the Mexico Center at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy of Rice University in Houston, TX. He also teaches public policy at the Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez. He is the author of Cops, Soldiers, and Diplomats: Explaining Agency Behavior in the War on Drugs and editor of several other books, including Undecided Nation: Political Gridlock and the Immigration Crisis; A War That Can't Be Won: Binational Perspectives on the War on Drugs; and Human Rights along the U.S.-Mexico Border: Gendered Violence and Insecurity. Payan was president of the Association of Borderlands Studies in 2009–2010.

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