Migration-Security Nexus

The nexus between migration and security issues has emerged as a lively, yet contested academic field at the end of the 20th century. Scholars from different disciplines deal with the link between cross-border mobility and the presence of people not considered to belong to a specific nation-state and a context marked by diffuse fears around transnational threats associated with organized crime, drug trafficking, terrorism, etc. To frame the phenomena related to migration as a security issue and thereby assign particular meaning to it and has an impact on migration related legislation and practices. Security language and practices set into motion a specific framework of meanings: with its idea of an existential threat endangering a specific referent object (such as the political order or the population of a particular state), security discourse and practices convey a sense of urgency and crisis that function as a powerful argument allowing the imposition of measures and technologies difficult to legitimate otherwise. The capacity of security rhetoric to frame a policy problem was captured by the concept of “securitization” which has been increasingly used to illustrate how security works as a trigger in the reproduction of political communities through the establishment of boundaries of belonging eventually leading to the inclusion of those considered as threatened and the exclusion of those deemed as threatening. However, despite the recent start of these academic debates, the construction of such a migration-security nexus has not merely started with relatively recent discussions on terrorist threats, but date back to the beginnings of the regulation of migratory movements and the presence of non-citizens.

Our focus

Within this vast and contested field, we adopt a critical and constructivist perspective and are particularly interested in the way migration and migrants are being securitized, i.e. framed as a security issues by the means of discourses, practices, institutions and technologies, how this creates specific categories of migrants and how it provides legitimacy for e.g. the legal and spatial exclusion of unwanted migrants. In contrast to many studies on the migration-security nexus we approach it with qualitative and historical empirical methods aiming at questioning and understanding its relevance and rationalities in written and applied migration law and policy as well as its societal consequences (e.g. on civil liberties, human rights of migrants). This implies an interest in analyzing what “security” means when used in migration related legislation and policies. Furthermore, we want to contribute to a critical reflection on how to produce scientific knowledge on the migration-security nexus without contributing to its construction. More specifically, we deal with the following research topics: meaning of “security” in migration law and policy; evolution of the securitization of migration over time; securitization of migration law through parliamentary discourses and through institutions and administrative practices (e.g. asylum procedures, deportation, detention, border control); processes of “crimmigration” and criminalization.