Josiah M. Heyman

Professor of Anthropology, Endowed Professor of Border Trade Issues, University of Texas at El Paso; and Director, Center for Interamerican and Border Studies
Areas of Expertise:
  • Criminal Justice
  • Immigration

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About Josiah

Heyman’s teaching and research center on immigration, especially at border sites (e.g., U.S.-Mexico border). Specifically, his work focuses on immigration law enforcement, agencies, officers, and tactics, and on attendant human rights issues. Related to this, he studies domains of border enforcement of all types (guns, drugs, money, terrorism, as well as migration), trade-offs among them, and alternatives to current border security policies. More broadly, Heyman’s expertise extends to cultural mixes, economic development patterns, environmental issues (especially water), and health care in border regions, based on 30 years of experience living and conducting research on the U.S.-Mexican border. Heyman is currently Board President of the Border Network for Human Rights, a major El Paso/southern New Mexico community organization, and Coordinator of the Training, Complaints, and Operations working group of Border Stakeholders, a coalition of human rights advocates engaged in dialogue with Customs and Border Protection. He is a former Board member of the Border and Immigration Task Force.


Is the Southwestern Border Really Unsafe?

    Ernesto Castañeda ,

No Jargon Podcast

In the News

Josiah M. Heyman's research on migrant smuggling discussed in Astrid Galvan and Julie Watson, "Three Dead, Eight Injured in Immigrant Smuggling Attempt at Border," Associated Press, November 30, 2018.
Josiah M. Heyman quoted on use of force in Colleen Long, "Border Agents Face Split-Second Decisions on Use of Force" Associated Press, November 29, 2018.
Josiah M. Heyman's research on drug cartels discussed in Evan Folan, "Expert: Arrest of High-Profile Cartel Members Leads to Chaos, More Violence," KVIA, June 15, 2018.
Josiah M. Heyman quoted on border patrol safety in Bob Ortega, "Is Border Patrol Work Dangerous? Not Compared to Being a Cop" CNN, May 1, 2018.
Josiah M. Heyman quoted in Aileen B. Flores, "New US Census Citizenship Question Could Affect El Paso Representation and Funding" El Paso Times, March 30, 2018.
Josiah M. Heyman quoted in J.D. Long-García, "New Report Details Troubling Immigration Enforcement Measures in El Paso" American Magazine, January 22, 2018.
Josiah M. Heyman quoted in Christian Vasquez, "Borderland Dehumanizes and Marginalizes Asylum Seekers, According to Recent Report" The Prospector, January 18, 2018.
Josiah M. Heyman quoted on diversified water portfolios in Monica Ortiz Uribe, "El Paso Plans for Possible "Toilet to Tap" Water Recycling" KRWG NPR, September 30, 2015.
Josiah M. Heyman quoted on the limits of a border economy in Merrill Hope, "People Ditching Texas Border City More than Any Other in U.S." Breitbart, July 24, 2015.
Josiah M. Heyman quoted on the states where undocumented immigrant populations settle in Casey Purcella , "Immigrants Bypass New Mexico, Experts Say" Daily Lobo, April 29, 2015.
Josiah M. Heyman quoted on finding solutions for dwindling water supplies as a result of climate change in the El Paso Del Norte region in Maria Esquinca, "Regional Water Shortages Prompt Researchers for Change" Prospector, April 21, 2015.
"You Lie!”: Going Beyond the Obama-Wilson Debate," Josiah M. Heyman, Access Denied blog, December 1, 2009.
"The Border Network for Human Rights: Building an Immigrant Movement in the Besieged Borderlands," Josiah M. Heyman, Race Talk blog, Kirwan Institute, May 10, 2010.


States and Illegal Practices (Berg Publishers, 1999).
Shows that rather than being polar opposites, states and their official legal systems have subtle, complex connections to illegal practices.
"Constructing a Virtual Wall: Race and Citizenship in U.S.-Mexico Border Policing" Journal of the Southwest 50, no. 3 (2008): 305-334.
Finds that U.S. border enforcement policy stems from complicated interactions of economic interests, racially tinged reaction to social change, and debates over the future of citizenship in a world in transformation.
"Ports of Entry in the ‘Homeland Security’ Era: Inequality of Mobility and the Securitization of Transnational Flows" in International Migration and Human Rights: The Global Repercussions of U.S. Policy, edited by Samuel Martínez (University of California Press, 2009), 44-59.
Shows how globalization presents the challenge of simultaneous mobility and barriers, and how ports of entry respond to this via unequal regimes of crossing inspections.
"United States Border Security after September 11" (with Jason Ackleson), in Border Security in the Al-Qaeda Era, edited by John Winterdyck and Kelly Sundberg (CRC Press, 2009), 37-74.
Reveals that despite homeland security rhetoric after 9/11, U.S. border control policies since the mid-1990s have been focused on labor and family migrants from Mexico and Central America.
"Briefing on Arizona's Immigration Law, S.B. 1070," Human Rights and Social Justice Committee Briefing No. 1, Society for Applied Anthropology, December 31, 2009.
Summarizes the controversial Arizona law, putting it in the wider context of conflict within social change.
"Guns, Drugs, and Money: Tackling the Real Threats to Border Security," Immigration Policy Center, Washington, DC, December 31, 2000.
Finds the emphasis on migration enforcement at the U.S.-Mexico border misplaced – the real human security risks stem from the gun-money-drugs nexus.