Binational Institutional Development on the U.S.-Mexico Border


This project studied institutions and cross-border governance on the U.S.-Mexico border with a focus on the adequacy of current border governing institutions. The study, with academic institutions on both sides of the border, looked at the function, structure, actors and processes of cross-border governance.

The edited volume "Binational Commons: Institutional Development and Governance on the US-Mexico Border" is the culmination of the research project. Binational Commons focuses on whether the institutions that presently govern the U.S.-Mexico transborder space are effective in providing solutions to difficult binational problems as they manifest themselves in the borderlands. Critical for policy-making now and into the future, this volume addresses key binational issues. It explores where there are strong levels of institutional governance development, where it is failing, how governance mechanisms have evolved over time, and what can be done to improve it to meet the needs of the U.S.-Mexico borderlands in the next decades.

Events and Activities

Workshops were held in the course of this multi-year project to gather input and engage in discussions from U.S.-Mexico border constituents, including private sector actors, civil society and government actors.

The team from the Center for the United States and Mexico and some of the authors presented working papers on April 4-7, 2018, at the Association for Borderlands Conference (ABS) in San Antonio, Texas. The final program for the ABS conference can be found here.

The Center co-organized the “Walls, Bridges and the Future of Transborder Communities: II International Workshop on Transborder Governance and Cooperation” on March 23-24, 2017, with Arizona State University’s Program for Transborder Communities, El Colegio de la Frontera Norte (COLEF) and the Centro de Investigación en Alimentación y Desarrollo (CIAD), in partnership with the International Network on Comparative Border Studies (RECFronteras).

Author Workshop

On Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017, the Mexico Center held a workshop with authors who are writing research papers for the “Binational Institutional Development on the U.S.-Mexico Border” project. Currently 19 authors have written 12 papers for the project, covering a broad range of issues such as defining the U.S.-Mexico border, border space and place, border statistical data collection, local governments and governance, environmental governance, social network analysis, security cooperation, trade and transportation institutions, energy and human mobility. Each paper also focuses on the institutions governing the field the author(s) examine, including their character, effectiveness, deficiencies, gaps, areas that need improved governance, and concrete policy recommendations.

Group shot of participants with computers sitting at a conference table


The authors and working titles for the papers of this project are as follows:

1. Defining the Border and the Borderlands
Tony Payan, Ph.D., and Pamela L. Cruz
Baker Institute Mexico Center

2. Place and Space Governance at the U.S.-Mexico Border (1944-2017)
Sergio Peña Medina, Ph.D. 
El Colegio de la Frontera Norte

3. Data for Mexico-U.S. Border Studies: A Comparison of Mexican and U.S. Data Collection and Distribution
James Gerber, Ph.D. 
San Diego State University
Eduardo Jorge Mendoza Cota, Ph.D. 
El Colegio de la Frontera Norte

4. An Exploratory Study on Collaborative Binational Social Networks on the U.S.-Mexico Border
Víctor Daniel Jurado Flores and Cecilia Sarabia Rios, Ph.D. 
El Colegio de la Frontera Norte

5. Governing our Borderlands Commons
Manuel A. Gutiérrez 
Arizona State University
Kathleen Staudt, Ph.D. 
The University of Texas at El Paso

6. Environmental Governance at the U.S.-Mexico Border: Institutions at Risk
Irasema Coronado, Ph.D. 
The University of Texas at El Paso
Stephen Mumme, Ph.D. 
Colorado State University

7. From the Institutional to the Informal: Security Cooperation Between the U.S. and Mexico
Octavio Rodríguez Ferreira 
University of San Diego

8. US-Mexico Law Enforcement and Border Security Cooperation: An Institutional-Historical Perspective
Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera, Ph.D.
George Mason University
Evan D. McCormick, Ph.D
Clements Center for National Security, University of Texas at Austin

9. Addressing Major Border Institutions in a NAFTA Renegotiation
David A. Gantz, Ph.D.
University of Arizona

10. The Future of Energy Infrastructure on the U.S.-Mexico Border
Adrian Duhalt, Ph.D.
Baker Institute Mexico Center and Center for Energy Studies

11. A Review of Transportation Institutions along the U.S.-Mexican Border
Kimberly Collins, Ph.D. 
California State University, San Bernardino

12. Facilitating and Advancing Human Mobility on the U.S.-Mexico Border
Katharine Donato, Ph.D. 
Georgetown University
Carla Pederzini Villarreal, Ph.D. 
Universidad Iberoamericana

13. Health Institutions at the US-Mexico Border
Eva M. Moya, Ph.D.Silvia M. Chávez-Baray, Ph.D., and Miriam S. Monroy
The University of Texas at El Paso

U.S.-Mexico Industrial Border Users Private Workshop

On Aug. 24, 2016, the Center for the United States and Mexico held its second closed-door workshop to continue the "Binational Institutional Development on the U.S.-Mexico Border" research project. The workshop gathered private sector input on cross-border needs, gaps, issues, and challenges.

The honorable Alan Bersin, Assistant Secretary for International Affairs and Chief Diplomatic Officer for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Policy, made initial remarks and set a stage for discussion. Workshop attendees included over 30 cross-border companies and stakeholders. A panel of experts, moderated by Tony Payan, examined key cross-border issues such as transportation, manufacturing, security, and energy.

Panelists participating in conference


Panel Presentation

  • Energy Sector Opportunities in Mexico
    Eduardo A. Sanchez, President, Sanchez Energy Corporation; and President and CEO, Sanchez Oil & Gas Mexico Holdings, LLC
  • Security Environment in Mexico
    Simon Whistler, Principal, Control Risks

Private Workshop

On Feb. 23, 2016, the Mexico Center held a closed-door workshop to launch a major research project: "Binational Institutional Development on the U.S.-Mexico Border." The workshop engaged participants from academia, government, non-government and business sectors in an extensive discussion on the scope and agenda of a major two-year research project on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Participants in workshop sitting around a table.


Scholars and experts led discussions and conversations on key issues along the U.S.-Mexico border:

  • Border Issues at the Governmental Level
    Irasema Coronado, Ph.D., The University of Texas at El Paso
    Cameron McGlothlin, U.S. Department of State
    Citlali Pérez Saucedo, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mexico
    Avdiel Huerta, Office of the Texas Secretary of State
    Denise Moreno Ducheny, University of California, San Diego
  • Economics and Trade
    Jorge Eduardo Mendoza Cota, Ph.D., El Colegio de la Frontera Norte
  • Security and Public Safety
    José María Ramos García, Ph.D., El Colegio de la Frontera Norte
    Marie Chalkley, U.S. Department of Homeland Security
  • Environment
    Irasema Coronado, Ph.D., The University of Texas at El Paso
  • Water and Boundary Issues
    Edward Drusina, International Boundary and Water Commission, U.S. Section
    Roberto Fernando Salmón Castelo, Ph.D., International Boundary and Water Commission, Mexico Section
  • Health Issues
    Ronald J. Dutton, Ph.D., Texas Department of State Health Services
  • Physical Infrastructure
    Francisco Lara-Valencia, Ph.D., Arizona State University
  • Civil Society and Democracy
    Kathleen Staudt, Ph.D., The University of Texas at El Paso
  • Political and Public Policy Interfaces
    Kimberly Collins, Ph.D., California State University, San Bernardino
  • Theoretical Frameworks and Models for Border Institutional Development
    Kathleen Staudt, Ph.D., The University of Texas at El Paso
    José María Ramos García, Ph.D., El Colegio de la Frontera Norte
    María del Rosío Barajas Escamilla, Ph.D., El Colegio de la Frontera Norte
    Emmanuel Brunet-Jailly, Ph.D., University of Victoria

The following institutions and organizations participated in the workshop:

  • Colegio de la Frontera Norte (COLEF)
  • Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies, University of California, San Diego (USMEX)
  • California State University, San Bernardino
  • Arizona State University (ASU)
  • University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP)
  • Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez (UACJ)
  • Texas A&M International University (TAMIU)
  • The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV)
  • Center for Borders, Trade, and Immigration Research (CBTIR) at the University of Houston
  • Borders in Globalization (BIG) project directed by the Centre for Global Studies at the University of Victoria, in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
  • U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Policy
  • Congressman Michael McCaul’s office
  • Mexican and Border Affairs Office of the Secretary of State
  • United States and Mexico sections of the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC)
  • U.S.-México Border Health Commission (BHC)
  • Border Affairs Unit of the U.S. Department of State
  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mexico
  • Borderplex Alliance
  • Watco Companies LLC