The Securitization of Migration and Racial Sorting in Fortress Europe

These past two decades the European Union has been hit by two so-called “crises”: the financial or “Euro” crisis of 2008 and the 2015-2016 migration crisis. Whereas both crises have fed into euro-sceptic sentiments, it is safe to say that the response to the financial crisis at least seemed to be somewhat coordinated and uniform with EU member states coming together to reinforce the monetary union through powerful new instruments and sacrificed control over their banking systems to save the euro. The opposite has been true with regard to EU member states’ response to the so-called migration crisis. Driven by a logic of re-nationalization, combined with the rise of xenophobia and identity politics, member states chose to sacrifice part of the functionality of the Schengen Agreement, also known as the Schengen acquis, rather than limit their national decision-making on migration and asylum. By falling back on national measures, such as border controls or fences, to contain the inflows of migrants and asylum seekers, member states choose to limit and monitor the cross-border mobility of people despite the fact that the principle of free movement of goods, services and people to enhance trade and travel, lies at the very core of the acquis. Discussions on migration and the functioning of the European union have become securitized and politicized, contributing to the fact that the objectives of border control in many countries, both inside and outside the EU, are increasingly inscribed into discourses about crime and punishment and into everyday practices of contemporary penal regimes. In this talk I will address how the principle of free movement in Europe was never meant to be all-inclusive and how this is illustrated by the ways in which the Schengen Border Code, the legal framework that governs intra-Schengen mobility, is interpreted and applied by national governments. By racially sorting between so-called bona fide global citizens and the ‘crimmigrant others’ countries are trying to revitalize national identity and keep out the foreign and culturally different, as well as fend off those who wish to take claim on the resources and protect welfare rights for citizens.

Maartje van der Woude is Professor of Law & Society at Leiden University (Netherlands) and holds her chair in the Van Vollenhoven Institute for Law, Governance & Society with a JD in Criminal Law, a MSc in Criminology and a PhD in Criminal Law & Criminology from Leiden Law School. Her research examines the politics of social control and securitization, both from a more macro – national – as from a more micro – local/individual – perspective. Her recent work examines the politics and dialectics of crime control, immigration control and border control in the European Union and the growing merger of all three. She is currently a visiting scholar at UC Berkeley’s Center for the Study of Law & Society.