Combating xenophobia and hate through compassionate migration: the present struggle of irregular migrants escaping fear and extreme poverty


This paper advances the need for a blueprint for a concept and practice of “compassionate migration” as a pressing response to the escalating xenophobia and hate towards migrants escaping fear and extreme poverty. Irregular migrants and refugees from certain countries are perceived by many as self-interested individuals whose aims are to exploit the social benefits of the state or destroy its core values. Although fear of migrants has long existed, particularly towards those who come from cultures that do not share the dominant values of their host communities, after 9/11, the increase in terror attacks in the Global North, and the ongoing conflicts in the Global South, the U.S., and many European states have securitized migration, including the militarization of their borders. Moreover, receiving states are criminalizing migration offenses, including the assistance of irregular migrants from a humanitarian standpoint. Although all migrants have protections under domestic and international humanitarian laws, this paper draws from cases of discourses and actions of hate towards migrants in the U.S. and Europe that inform us that under the securitization and criminalizing of migration such laws are not adequate to protect the human rights of migrants from a dangerous rise in xenophobia and nativism.

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In this article “irregular migrants” refers to all migrants resulting from “irregular migration” which according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) refers to a “Movement that takes place outside the regulatory norms of the sending, transit and receiving countries”, opposed to “illegal migration” which is used to refer to cases of smuggling of migrants or trafficking in persons. The term “irregular migrants” includes migrants without proper documents to enter, transit, stay or work in a receiving state, or who do not have the proper documents to leave a state. It also includes refugees or asylum seekers whose petitions have been rejected by a receiving state. See IOM [1]. Key Migration Terms. Movement that takes place outside the regulatory norms of the sending, transit and receiving countries

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Arrocha, W. Combating xenophobia and hate through compassionate migration: the present struggle of irregular migrants escaping fear and extreme poverty. Crime Law Soc Change 71, 245–260 (2019).

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  • Compassionate migration
  • Irregular migrants
  • Criminalization
  • Securitization
  • Xenophobia
  • Hate speech