Our Work

We do community-action research on immigration at the US-Mexico border.

In 2020-21 we are collaborating with four San Diego/Tijuana-based advocacy organizations to confront the dehumanizing impacts of the US asylum system for migrants from Mexico, Central America, Haiti and Cameroon.

Scroll down for an overview of our current and past research or look at the dropdown menu under “our work” for reports from our studies in migrant shelters in early 2020.

Asylum Seekers


Based on participant observation and more than 130 in-depth interviews with asylum seekers in Tijuana and in immigration detention, we examine how current US asylum policies affect families on the front lines of the asylum crisis at the US-Mexico border.

Partners 2020-21: Al Otro Lado, Innovation Law Lab, Templo Embajadores de Jesus, Espacio Migrante, UCSD Raza Resources Centro



Based on participant observation and more than 150 in-depth interviews with deported men and women in Tijuana, we examine the implications of deportation for families and the ways that people who are “banished” resist.

Binational Education


From 2016-2020 the MMFRP conducted original research to understand the opportunities and challenges facing binational youth in the San Diego-Tijuana border region. We surveyed 400 high school classrooms in San Diego and Tijuana, supplemented by interviews and focus groups. The data have been used to identify ideas to help students succeed and rapidly prototype programs to support youth.

This project was run by Melissa Floca, former Associate Director of the UCSD Center for US-Mexican Studies.

Mexico-US Migration


From 2004-2015 the MMFRP conducted rotating surveys in three migrant-sending communities in Mexico: one in the state of Oaxaca, one in the Yucatán, and one in Jalisco. The team also surveyed migrants from these communities who lived in the United States. These rich case studies and data allowed our team to examine the reasons people migrate, both legally and in an unauthorized manner, and how migration was affected by border enforcement and deportation.

This work resulted in fourteen books and special journal issues as well as dozens of articles in peer-reviewed journals and public policy studies. 

This project was run by Dr. Wayne Cornelius, Professor Emeritus of Political Science at UCSD and founder of the MMFRP and Dr. David Fitzgerald, Professor of Sociology at UCSD.