Responding to Central American refugees: Comparing policy design in Mexico and the United States.
AuthorFiederlein, Suzanne Leone.
KeywordsCentral America -- Emigration and immigation
Political refugees -- United States
Political refugees -- Mexico.
Committee ChairWilliams, Edward J.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe dissertation analyzes and compares the responses of governmental policymakers in Mexico and the United States as they confronted a growing influx of Central American migrants in the 1980s. The study examines how two countries with contrasting political systems, economic capabilities, and international positions approached the issue of refugee policy relating to Central Americans. A central objective of the analysis involves identifying the set or sets of independent variables--domestic policy concerns, foreign policy interests, and international law considerations--that exert the most influence over the design of refugee policy and assessing how their influence changes depending on the characteristics of the refugee population, the capabilities of the two countries, and the degree of openness of their political systems. While the study shows that the process of designing refugee policy involves accommodating competing goals shaped by all three sets of independent variables, it concludes that national capabilities determine the set of independent variables dominating the process, with foreign policy interests exerting more influence over the United States and domestic policy and international legal considerations affecting Mexican policy to a greater extent. The set of variables that dominates shapes the generosity or restrictiveness of the policy and determines other features of the policy design. The degree of political openness further influences the policy design process by allowing for the participation of domestic interest groups. In the United States with its open political system, domestic opponents forced the government to adopt a more generous policy over time, although domestic interest groups affected policy implementation to a limited extent in Mexico as well. The study examines the relationship among the variables by comparing case studies that detail the policy responses of Mexico and the United States through the use of a policy design framework. This framework identifies the core elements of each country's policy--its goals, targets, agents, and instruments--and then traces the policy's development through its several implementation and revision stages. The use of a policy design framework facilitates a systematic comparison of the two cases and promotes an evaluation of policy outcomes both in terms of the fulfillment of goals and the impact of policy on the refugee population.
Degree ProgramPolitical Sciences