Conceptualising the Criminalisation of Migration

© The Author(s) 2015
Valsamis MitsilegasThe Criminalisation of Migration in EuropeSpringerBriefs in Law10.1007/978-3-319-12658-6_1

1. Conceptualising the Criminalisation of Migration

Valsamis Mitsilegas 

Department of Law, Queen Mary University of London, London, UK



Valsamis Mitsilegas

Recent years have witnessed a growth in scholarly interest in the phenomenon of the criminalisation of migration. Academic interest in the field has followed the proliferation of state enforcement practices in immigration control on both sides of the Atlantic, with a number of leading scholars offering different conceptualisations of and approaches to the criminalisation of migration and its legal implications. In the United States, Stephen Legomsky has highlighted the use of criminal law to punish immigration violations, combined in parallel with the attachment of immigration law consequences to criminal convictions.1 This twofold link, underpinned by what Legomsky has called importing criminal law enforcement strategies in the field of immigration control, has also been highlighted by Juliet Stumpf under her analysis of the now widely used term of ‘crimmigration’, which also encompasses an analysis of the impact of the criminalisation of migration on inclusion and exclusion.2 In the United Kingdom, a recent study by Ana Aliverti has focused on the criminal prosecution and punishment of migrants in domestic law,3 while Lucia Zedner has highlighted the potential consequences of the criminalisation of migration for fundamental principles of criminal law.4 From a European perspective, Elspeth Guild, writing for the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, has adopted a more general approach including within the criminalisation of migration the adverse consequences for migrants in terms of residence and social rights, including employment rights,5 while I have explored the criminalisation of migration at EU level in a narrower sense by focusing on the relationship between the use of substantive criminal law and European Union law in this context.6 Issues related to the criminalisation of immigration have also been addressed by a number of scholars in the United States and Europe within wider analyses of the link between migration and illegality,7 as well as of the process of the securitisation of migration and its legal implications.8 Research on the criminalisation of migration has not been confined only to academic lawyers, with important insights being provided by scholars in international relations, political sociology9 and, more recently, criminology.10

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