Imagined Migration World: The European Union’s Anti-Illegal Immigration Discourse

  • William Walters
Part of the Migration, Minorities and Citizenship book series (MMC)


Conventional approaches to questions of unauthorized or unwanted migration often treat policy as a self-evident response to a prior social and economic problem (Schloenhardt, 2001). As they see it, ‘illegal immigration’ is something that, for various and perhaps complex reasons, happens; governments have to develop ‘solutions’ to this ‘problem’. However, a notable trend in recent scholarship is to treat the governance of illegal immigration — what I propose to call anti-illegal immigration policy — as an ‘important object of study in its own right’.1 According to this reading, migration governance should be examined in terms of programmes, discourses, experts, technologies and interventions which do not simply respond to something already there, but instead operate as an active and constitutive force which shapes the social world in particular ways with particular political consequences. This turn towards analyzing anti-illegal immigration activity as a performative and irreducible regime of practices is evident in the literature in a number of ways. For instance, it is manifest in the growing body of work utilizing the analytics of ‘securitization’ and ‘criminalization’ to explain how certain categories of migrants find themselves subject to exceptional and often quasi-authoritarian forms of treatment (Waever et al., 1993; Bigo, 2002; Ceyhan and Tsoukala, 2002; Buonfino, 2004; Huysmans, 2006).


European Union Illegal Immigration Migration Policy Undocumented Migration Border Control 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© William Walters 2010

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  • William Walters

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