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Criminal Law

Primary Authority

U.S. Customs and Border Enforcement: Public Laws
The federal agency compiles statutes involving criminal and immigration enforcement at the border.

Statutes throughout the United States Code prohibit criminal activity and delineate rules for border enforcement activities. See the Federal Legislature: Statutes and Legislation Research Guide for information on researching federal legislation.

Statutes throughout the Arizona Revised Code Statutes Annotated concern border enforcement and criminal activity. See the Arizona Legislature Research Guide for information on researching state legislation.

Federal Regulations

The following CFR Titles are related to border security, immigration, citizenship, and nationality:

  • Title 8 CFR (Dept. of Homeland Security, Immigration & Naturalization)
  • Title 22 CFR (Dept. of State)
  • Title 6 CFR (Dept. of Homeland Security, Office of Security) 

See the Federal Agencies and Executive Branch Research Guide for information on researching the Code of Federal Regulations and Federal Register.

State Regulations

Provisions throughout the Arizona Administrative Code concern law enforcement practices. See the Arizona Agencies Research Guide for information on researching proposed and final administrative regulations.

Web Resources

Arizona Attorney General's Office: Border Actions
This government website documents legal actions and initiatives regarding border security and immigration, and it provides an archive of press releases regarding those actions.

Arizona Department of Homeland Security
This agency is dedicated to protecting the state from border crimes and terrorist threats.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection: Border Security
This government resource provides information on border security initiatives and rules for use of force and safe tactics. Researchers can find information on border areas and ports of entry in Arizona and other states where law enforcement officials may screen foreign visitors. Links on the website enable users to find ports in other states.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security: Border Security
The federal agency provides an overview of actions to curtail border crime and results. An independent ombudsman within the DHS oversees immigration detention to provide oversight and address complaints.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
This federal law enforcement agency targets cross border crime and undocumented immigrants. It provides a tool to track people in detention.

American County Histories: The Southwest States (available on campus or remotely through ASURITE)
Includes historical accounts of crimes in states along the border with Mexico.

Border and Migration Studies Online (available on campus or remotely through ASURITE)
This collection provides historical background on more than thirty key worldwide border areas, including the U.S. and Mexico.

Digital National Security Archive (available on campus or remotely through ASURITE)
This resource compiles government national security documents from 1945 to the present regarding topics including the U.S.-Mexican border.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Statistics
The federal agency provides data on criminal and immigration arrests and detentions.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Statistics 
This government resource provides data on criminal enforcement efforts, use of force, and immigration at the Southwest border.

American Immigration Council: Immigration and Crime
This organization dedicated to promoting the policies to assist immigrants in joining U.S. society gathers its advocacy projects and provides a blog on border crimes.

BorderReport: Border Crime
Journalists focusing exclusively on the Southwest border report on stories including crimes.

NACLA: Border Wars
This blog from the North American Congress on Latin America, an organization dedicated to promoting the advancement of Latin American and Caribbean people examines issues stemming from Southwest border and immigration security.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection: Media Releases
This archive of press releases details criminal activities and investigations at the border.

Westlaw: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement News (Westlaw password required)
This compilation includes reports and press releases regarding border crimes enforcement.

Texts and Treatises

ASU has a number of online and print treatises on the issues of Southwest border crime. You can search for them in the ASU Library catalog by using subject headings such as Human trafficking -- Mexican-American Border Region, Crime prevention -- Mexico, or Organized crime -- Mexico. You can limit your results to e-books by clicking “Full Text Online” on the right. Print books available in other ASU libraries may be requested and delivered to you at the Law Library.

Borderline Slavery: Mexico, United States, and the Human Trade (Susan Tiano & Moira Murphy Aguilar eds., 2012)
Examines potential policy solutions to address the problem of labor and sex trafficking along the Southwest border.

Border Wars (Tom Barry, 2011)
This volume takes a critical view of U.S. border security efforts and examines their social, financial, and moral costs.

Gender Violence at the U.S.-Mexico Border: Media Representation and Public Response (Hector Dominguez Ruvelcabra & Ignacio Corona, 2010)
Examines the portrayals of one aspect of border crime and the legal status of women who have experienced violence.

Handcuffs and Chainlink: Criminalizing the Undocumented in America (Benjamin Gonzalez O'Brien, 2018)
This book examines anti-immigration practices such as linking immigrants to potential for criminality to effectively treating border crossing as a crime justifying a militarized border.

Human Smuggling and Border Crossings (Gabriella Sanchez, 2014)
This academic work delves into the topics of coyotes, or smugglers of immigrants; the criminalization of immigration; gender issues; and violence in human trafficking.

Immigration Law and Crimes (Dan Kesselbrenner & Lory D. Rosenberg, 2021) (Westlaw password required)
This treatise gathers information on border crimes and enforcement, including details about federal agency action. 

Organized Crime in Mexico: Assessing the Threat to North American Economies (Cameron H. Holmes, 2014)
Considers the impact of border crimes on legitimate commerce and suggests policies to alleviate the problems.

Our Lost Border: Essays on Life Amid the Narco-Violence (Sarah Cortez ed., 2013)
This volume presented in Spanish along with English examines the damage of border crime to the 

Using the Narcotrafico Threat to Build Public Administration Capacity between the US and Mexico (Donald Klingner & Roberto Moreno Espinosa eds., 2014)
This volume identifies ways in which the governments of the United States and Mexico can collaborate to reduce militarization of border security and foster a more peaceful region.

Women Drug Traffickers : Mules, Bosses, and Organized Crime (Elaine Carey, 2014)
This ebook details the history of women's involvement in the illicit trades of human beings and drugs at the Southwest border.