Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy




Samuel Brunk


For thousands of years, the Paso del Norte region which today includes Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, El Paso, Texas, and Sunland Park, New Mexico, has been a strategic location by virtue of its geographic positioning at the lowest and easiest passage across the continental divide. During the 19th and 20th centuries as railroad networks connected the region to the far reaches of the U.S. and the interior of Mexico, it became a nexus for natural resource and labor extraction. Mining and smelting industries were later joined by agriculture and manufacturing to benefit from the transportation network and the abundance of labor. The region was transformed between 1940 and 2000 in terms of industrialization, physical footprint, and population expansion as a result of several bilateral treaties and agreements. The Paso del Norte region became a global manufacturing hub overwhelmed by mass migration, depressed wages, and a woefully insufficient public infrastructure that created unsafe and unhealthy living conditions for all of its residents. One of the outcomes of this unfettered growth was the deterioration of the air quality within the shared air basin. By the mid 1990s, the sister cities of El Paso and Ciudad Juárez had the worst air pollution along the border and each city ranked among the most polluted in its respective country.

This dissertation explores a six decade period of bilateral economic and labor agreements that facilitated the devastating degradation of air quality in the Paso del Norte air basin. It examines the factors that drove the dramatic growth in the region and the pressures that growth placed on limited public infrastructure. Finally, this dissertation explores how a group of fronterizos created a binational, multi-sectoral stakeholder organization named the Paso del Norte Air Quality Task Force, which became a catalyst for innovative air pollution abatement strategies and cross-border environmental protection in their community.




Received from ProQuest

File Size

239 p.

File Format


Rights Holder

Laura Margarita Uribarri