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Josiah M. Heyman

Professor of Anthropology, Endowed Professor of Border Trade Issues, UT El Paso; Director, Center for Interamerican and Border Studies, The University of Texas at El Paso

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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. He recently chaired the American Anthropological Association’s task force on border walls.


Is the Southwestern Border Really Unsafe?

  • Ernesto Castaneda

In the News

Josiah M. Heyman quoted on effect of migration policy on Mexican border cities by Elisabeth Malkin, "In Ciudad Juárez, Migrants Dream of America but ‘Run Into Trump’s Wall’" New York Times, August 8, 2019.
Josiah M. Heyman's research on Beto's 2020 run discussed by Jonathan Tilove, "As he Ponders 2020 Bid, Beto O’Rourke Takes on Trump’s Wall," Austin Stateman, February 23, 2019.
Josiah M. Heyman's research on border walls' effect on wildlife discussed by Mallory Falk, "Critics Say Border Wall Could Harm Wildlife Corridors And Sensitive Desert Terrain," NPR, February 21, 2019.
"UTEP Professor Explains Why Migrants Try to Cross through Antelope Wells," Josiah M. Heyman, Interview with Adriana Candelaria, CBS, February 16, 2019.
Josiah M. Heyman's research on migrant smuggling discussed by 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 by Colleen Long, "Border Agents Face Split-Second Decisions on Use of Force" Associated Press, November 29, 2018.
Josiah M. Heyman quoted on border patrol safety by Bob Ortega, "Is Border Patrol Work Dangerous? Not Compared to Being a Cop" CNN, May 1, 2018.
Josiah M. Heyman quoted by 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 by J.D. Long-García, "New Report Details Troubling Immigration Enforcement Measures in El Paso" American Magazine, January 22, 2018.
Josiah M. Heyman quoted by 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 by 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 by 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 by 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 by 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.


"Provider Perceptions of the Effects of Current U.S. Immigration Enforcement Policies on Service Utilization in a Border Community" (with Isabel Latz and Mark W Lusk). Social Development Issues 4, no. 1 (2019): 49-63.

Outlines perceptions about effects of immigration enforcement policies under the Trump administration on service utilization from twenty service providers in health care, mental health, legal affairs, and immigrant advocacy in El Paso, Texas.

"The Homeless and Occupy El Paso: Creating Community Among the 99%" (with Curtis Smith and Ernesto Castaneda). Social Movement Studies 11, no. 3 (2012): 356-366.

Discusses how protestors during the Occupy movement in El Paso, Texas, argued that the homeless exemplified an important segment of the 99%, which gave the homeless people a different identity. Elaborates on how homeless people even credit the activities they carried with the Occupy El Paso movement for helping them recover from addiction and their eventual attainment of housing.

"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.

"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.
"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.
"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.
"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.
"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.