The globalisation of migration control

Franck Düvell

The IOM recommended the Turkish government "to prevent irregular migration and to fight trafficking".

Later a daily paper reported, "in Turkey, nine people are shot and five other injured at an attempt to illegally cross the border. 139 people from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh had tried to cross the Iranian-Turkish border".

The tension between the right to free movement and the nation states' claim to defend their borders and control access to their territory in the last consequence inherence a matter of life and death. What happened at the Iranian-Turkish border was no coincidence but reflects the discussion on the international stage. "Many members of the more prosperous economies are beginning to agree with Raspail's vision of a world of two 'camps', separated and unequal, in which the rich will have to fight and the poor will have to die if mass migration is not to overwhelm us", that is how the conservative French thinker and Figaro essayist has been appreciated by US-American policy advisors. It prepares the ground for a 'militarisation of migration control', and also signals the willingness of the international community to sacrifice life for the sake of defending the status quo of social injustice, inequality and exclusion. However, what here comes as an appeal to more irrational emotions of fear has some very rational backgrounds.

Freedom of movement versus economic migration management Worldwide, migration has become a major topic; frequently, asylum or migration crises are generated and migrants scapegoated in countries as different as Germany and the UK, Australia and Malaysia, Lybia and Argentina, Nigeria, Kenia and most recently in Ivory Coast. It is acknowledged that globalisation corresponds with an increase in mobility and migration. Irregular migration in particular, though sometimes appreciated as cheap labour but generally a term used to defame the unwanted, is perceived a number one threat to the world order and to nation states integrity. The IOM and other sources estimates up to 33 million 'illegal immigrants' worldwide, four times the population of Sweden. Frequently, warnings are issued that half the Moroccan youth or 50 million Russians wish to move north, respectively west; some simply equalise global population growth with future migration pressure. Migration has also often been related to some kind of resistance , a 'revolution of expectations' (Jungfer), to 'the revolution of the barefoot' (Club of Rome) and to 'an action against poverty' (Galbraith). Any study in migration typically highlights the wishes, dreams, expectations and demands of immigrants. Therefore migration is also some kind of a 'social movement towards global social justice'. Exclusively victimising migrants or simply downplaying does not help to understand the phenomenon and the deeper meaning of the antagonism; distinguishing between refuge, internal or border crossing migration and mobility does not help either. Sivanandan is right arguing that the situation of refugees, displaced persons, guestworkers or those internally moving from poor villages to a shining metropolis are related to the same socio-political-economical context, they are in one way or another uprooted by the same politics and its many facets: globalisation. In fact, 'the world is on the move' and the full extend is rather somewhere near half a billion to one billion people worldwide. Beyond that, an Italian leaflet for the protest against the G8 summit, arguing that migration is the new ghost haunting the world, expresses some truth as well. Indeed, at the core of migration lies the social question, it represents part of a globally mobile world proletariat. In response, national governments and international organisations agree that migration needs to be regulated and 'orderly managed' (IOM). It is often international conferences, such as 'Managing Migration in the 21. Century' (Hamburg 1998) or the 'International Symposium on Migration: Towards Regional Cooperation on Irregular Migration' (Bangkok 1999) that identify and analyse perceived problems and prepare the ground for what has been to come. Meanwhile, there are rarely international agreements, stability pacts, bilateral action plans or contracts that do not also refer to migration and the necessity to jointly contain it. And since neoliberalism, and along with it utilitarian principles, are accepted as the dominant ideology within the industrialised world it is no surprise that both now also inform migration policy.

Migration control has never been aimed at 'zero migration', although for a short period of time between 1973 and 2000 that could have been assumed. Instead, migration has often been analysed as vital to economic growth such as for the US-American history and the Mexican-US maquiladora industry, the German Ruhr region, during the post-war boom, the Gulf States industrialisation, the economic success of global cities or the South Asian growth triangle. Migration policy is closely related to population policy, labour market policy, but also foreign policy and wars. It has many facets such as containing the movement of the poor to the centres of wealth, or in opposite the recruitment of migrant labour to accumulation centres, it can be the expulsion of 'surplus people' from their soil or the blocking of escape moves from war or ecological disaster. Migration has been analysed as a potential of being a precondition to economic growth as well as a threat to capitalism and accumulation; therefore recruitment and containment are so closely related. History is not at least about a continuous wrestling over access to territories and resources.

In 1999, the European Union and its member states at their summit in Tampere decided to modernise their immigration policy along three lines, (a) containing asylum migration, (b) fighting irregular migration, and (c) opening up new migration channels to migrant workers. Its 2002 summit in Seville confirmed another point, (d) the extension of European migration policy onto any other country of origin or transit. Suggesting an integrated approach, the EU aims to respond to combine solutions for internal problems such as 'ageing societies, a lack of certain professionals, and a lack of internal labour market mobility, a slow-down of economy, with attempting to get its hands on what is perceived migration pressure, the business of trafficking, and the positive elements in immigration. Since the Tampere summit, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK did begin modernising their immigration policy by introducing Green Cards, increasing quotas for foreign workers, signing contracts over guest workers or allowing the number of work permits to rise. Economic migration, until recently a term to discredit asylum seekers, rapidly got a positive connotation. However, these governments did not only selectively opened up its borders to some kind of migration but also strengthened a major rational for exclusion: economic considerations.

To that extend to which market laws become a dominant motive in migration politics those people are rejected for whom there is no demand on the labour market. Schemes such as the point system of the US or German Green Card to assess the 'human capital of an applicant or the Daily Telegraph's call for a 'quality control' of future immigrants clearly make this point. The 'unwanted' and the 'surplus people' will and already do suffer from the whole brutality of economic laws. In continuity of notoriously racist patterns it is the populations of the Black, Asian or Slavic world that are perceived a threat to world order, the fabric of social hierarchies and economics. For many of them there is no place in the world of investments and profits. Stuck in poor, exploited or robbed parts of the world, for them it can become a matter of life and death as the worldwide 2.1 billion poor or those 800.000 suffering from starvation shows.

Modernising the European migration regime

The European migration regime is comparably most advanced. From its starting point in 1985, the extension of the Trevi group's responsibility towards migration issues, the Schengen agreement, the Dublin convention, the 'harmonisation' of asylum politics, and in 1999 the Amsterdam Treaty creating a 'single area of freedom and security' represent the cornerstones of a supranational approach to migration. A whole range of agencies with shiny names such as the Ad Hoc Group Migration, the High Level Working Group on Migration, the Strategic Committee on Migration, clearing centres on asylum and on border crossing (CIREA, CIREFI), or the Working Community Police Cooperation with Middle and East European Countries, many of them rather secret and not accountable to democratic control have been set up. All of them are concerned with asylum, migration, 'illegal immigrants', 'trafficking' and border crossing. From the core of the Schengen states, pacemakers such as France, Germany and the Netherlands, and more recently the UK and Spain, have always pushed for a more pro-active, preventive and outreaching approach. First, the 1990 were characterised by creating a cordon sanitaire towards its Eastern European neighbours, meanwhile as they become European Union member states the implementation of the Schengen aqui has been made a precondition. Second, the EU has been keen to reach bilateral agreements with all its other neighbouring states mainly those bordering the Mediterranean sea, for example with the Barcelona Declaration; and also those who are now outside the EU's new external borders such as Yugoslavia, Moldavia and the Ukraine, for example the Balkan Steering Group Migration. Third, it aspires common understanding with the Americas through the EU-US action plan or an Interregional Frame agreement between the EU and Mercosur (an acronym for South America) And finally, the EU targets any other regions or countries of origin and transit. The 'ASEM Ministerial Conference on Cooperation for the Management of Migratory Flows between Europe and Asia' in April 2002 illustrates the commitment to integrate 10 major Asian governments into European Union migration policy concepts. A concrete tool in tackling migration is the European Action plans on Albania, Morocco, Iraq, Sri Lanka, Somalia and Afghanistan. Their titles are misleading as they do include any other relevant neighbouring or transit country. The Action Plan Iraq for example puts a crucial focus on Turkey and in that on migration from Pakistan and Bangladesh though these countries. Albania too has been identified as the major transit route now replacing migration though the East. Another tool, is to deploy European police and immigration officers and policy advisors at foreign airports and border guard headquarters, such as in Moscow, Bangkok and Sarajevo. But it is the EU major development policy document, the Cotonou Convention, successor of the Lome Convention that targets all African, Caribbean and Pacific states (ACP). Drafted in 2000, the EU summit in Seville agreed in adding a paragraph on migration control and readmission of migrants in to bilateral agreement with an ACP state over development policy, technical cooperation or trade. And similar, the ASEM-EU agreement makes clear that migration control is an 'important element' and precondition for good bilateral relations. If that fails the EU has agreed to establish a final defence line by integrating the military alliance WEU into its structure, setting up a paramilitary force of 5.000 officers, that shall be deployed for example to contain 'massive population movements'. When it comes to immigration, the EU reflects a very aggressive approach, which does not hesitate to interfere with domestic affairs of other states, even using some blackmailing over development aid or threats of military intervention. The EU tries to force compliance with its migration policy that spreads like shockwaves onto wide parts of the world. However, beyond any such development lies another level of transnational cooperation and planning.

Transnational migration control agencies

'Strategies for an international migration regime' and global migration management, are key words in present international politics. What is known from the regulation of finance and goods, in particular the role of IMF or WTO will serve as a blueprint to global migration politics too. In fact, a General Agreement on the Movement of People, equally to those on Transport and Trade (GATT) has already been proposed. It has been frequently acknowledged that the old system of migration control has failed and also that the politics of globalisation requires a new concept. Nation states are crumbling, global traffic increases constantly, borders have become porous and relying on control of external borders does not work anymore, in a flexible world inflexible systems of control such as a nation state's border have become increasingly inadequate. Therefore, the move is towards a comprehensive regime that covers the whole process of migration from the countries of origin, along the pathways and through any country of transit to its final destination. Any such approach lies well beyond the scope of the nation states, which instead have identified the need for supranational and transnational organisations. These are the Intergovernmental Consultations on Asylum, Refugees and Migration Policies (IGC), the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), to some extend the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and some think tanks and regular conferences.

The IGC has been set up in 1985 when the previous Intergovernmental Committee on Migration has become the IOM. The IGC is a small elitist, 'informal [and indeed very secret] forum' of only 16 members 'for the exchange of information and the planning of innovative solutions and strategies'. The IGC is possibly the central think tank in migration control politics, it must be suspected that key strategies and combat cries such as 'human trafficking', and even 'illegal migration' as such has been agreed at their meeting to become internationally accepted concepts. Its organisational basis is the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) in Vienna, which also hosts the secretariat for the Budapest Process, synonym for the extension of the European migration policy eastwards.

The main agency however is the IOM. It has been set up in 1951 as the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration. That should already trouble any reader about its intentions as its predecessor in name, an Intergovernmental Committee, founded in 1938 as a result of the Evian conference so disastrously failed to rescue European Jewish refugees from what was to come. However, the IOM, although based next to the UN in Geneva, is not part of that structure. Quite the opposite, it was meant as a counter agency to the UNHCR, set up the year before. In contrast to the UNHCR, which is based on humanitarian principles the IOM has been based on economic considerations. It also functioned as another instrument of the Truman doctrine during the cold war period, in that it still reflects the trilateral approach of claiming to represent governments, economy and migrants alike. In fact, migrants do not have a voice, are not represented, and where NGO's are involved they are rather patronised than having an influence. But in 1980, the European in its named was dropped to acknowledge its increasing involvement in Third World matters, and with the collapse of the Eastern bloc the ICM has been finally transformed and renamed to IOM. They have about 100 member states, whose fees fund the organisation and its operations, its resolution and mission statement makes it a membership organisation. However, they claim a right to receive public and private funds, to institute legal proceedings and immunity for their staff. These 'privileges and immunities' guarantee a unique status and makes it a very influencial and powerful agency. The IOM claims to be 'the leading international organisation for migration' and is on the road to the emerging global governance. Over the last couple of years, it has become a very complex transnational agency that not only deals with migration policy design and implementation, the movement and often return of people, but also with the disarmament of guerillas in Kosovo, Congo and Angola; the formation of a civil administration in Kosovo; the medical screening of emigrants for example accepted for settlement in the USA and Canada; or running the compensation scheme to non-Jewish victims of the Nazi slave workers. By recent pilot projects between Finland and the Philippines and between Spain and Equador, the IOM now also becomes involved in the recruitment of labour and seems to take over this aspect from the ILO. But the main focus remains with migration management, the IOM prides itself to have been interfered with the lives of 11 million people since its first year. In 2000 alone it moved 450.000 people to and fro. Its main destinations read like a list of war torn regions: Kosovo, Northern Iraq, or Sierra Leone. Just before the war, even Afghanistan was listed as a major destination for movements. Indeed, the focus is on return of migrants, often unwanted where they are. For example, 75.000 refused asylum seekers have been flown out of Germany in 2000, but what is disguised as voluntary return can be revealed as a 'cold removal'. For the role, the IOM plaid in the expelling of the Roma people from Western Europe they are accused by the Roma National Congress of being 'the enemy of the Roma people'. And for the irresponsible way, IOM runs, and delays the compensation instalments to Roma victims from the Nazis, the RNC took the IOM to the European Court for Human Rights in Strasbourg.

Within only two years, the IOM has doubled its number of representatives from 40 to now over 100. Meanwhile, the whole world is separated into 19 migrationwise relevant regions, each headed by a regional headquarter, such as Brussels, Rome, Budapest, Helsinki, Bangkok or . Its field offices by implementing the Migration Information Program are understood as posts of a global 'migration warning system', that feed back to countries of destination knowledge about migration movements, patterns, networks, and supporters. The IOM exports the European model of migration control to other parts of the world, such as Western Africa, where the IOM 'and the Economic Community of West African States are to establish a Migration Statistics Unit .that would improve understanding of migration issues and help the establish effective migration programs and policies'. The same has been going on in South America with the Puebla process and in South East Asia with the Manila process, each synonyms for regional migration regimes. The IOM usually starts off with some research, then a report will be published pointing to the problems identified, such as the seize of an illegal population. These are often neighbouring citizens who live and work in a bordering country, where they are not necessarily perceived as a problem because of the historical and cultural links between countries, as for example the 50 year tradition of open borders between the then COMECON countries. Once the problem has been constructed, the IOM comes in and offers policy advise, support with the design and implementation of new politics, and finally training on new migration control technology such as red-light cameras. For example, in Ukraine, the IOM took border police officers to the Mexican-US border to demonstrate how an efficient control regime looks like.

The IOM not only concentrates, accumulates and in return spreads the state of the art migration control policy and technology from and to any part of the globe (Capacity Building Programs), it also offers a comprehensive approach consisting of a combination of migration discouragement schemes (so called Information Seminars), the erection of border control posts (such as in the Ukraine), building and running detention camps (for example on Nauru), the subsequent removal of unwanted migrants (so-called voluntary return schemes in UK, Germany, Netherlands and many other countries) and the recruitment of wanted labour (such as from Equador to Spain).

IGC and IOM both not only build on economic principles but also strongly reflect very racist ideas of nationality, home and belonging. Some critics argue that it is build on the assumption that 'people shall primarily live where their home is, where there people is and where there soil is'.

The myth of a borderless world

European history tough that economic integration, and mobility and migration can lead to some convergence of wages. Some scholars therefore expect globalisation to lead to nation states and borders fading away resulting in the miraculous appearance of a borderless world. Others assume that the neoliberal politics of deregulation will finally influence migration and allow unregulated flows of people. And neoclassical economic theory try to make us believe that globalisation plus migration will cease inequality and leads to more distributive justice. However, that is far from being realistic. Instead, neoliberal think tanks such as the OECD or the Multilateral Commission insist in the parallel politics of deregulating finance and trade whilst keeping strong systems to regularise the movement of people and labour. That coincides with a tendency to create new states, processes of devolution such as in the UK and Italy, the European concept to introduce Euro-regions replacing nation states, and with new pioneering schemes to police, and if necessary restrict, the movement of hooligans, criminals, asylum seekers and globalisation protesters. These apparent discrepancies need to be explained. Imperialism is based on the exploitation of wage and reproduction differentials between regions and countries, races and gender, and legal and social groups. It has a strategic interest in keeping social or geographical divisions by genderising, racialising or territorialising the humanity. Imagined, socially constructed or physical borders are essential to the world economic order. Migration politics aims to keep the system of borders and territories whilst in the same time exploits the wage and reproduction cost differential between countries. The political economy of the wage ratio between Singapore and Indonesia (1: 289), Mexico and the US (1:50), or Germany and Poland (1:10) are well documented. The enforcement of borders, the control over migration movements and mobility in general, the introduction of new borders (as on the Balkan or the former Soviet Union) or even movement control technology such as CCTV and biometric scanning are aspects of the same concept. There is already a 'hierarchy of mobility' as global elites are allowed to move freely, whilst workers' movements are heavily regulated, but those not having the funds to subside themselves (such as tourists) or not primarily economically active, even more so in case they could become a financial burden to public funds (such as refugees)are prevented from moving at all. The unequal treatment of the highly skilled, asylum seekers, illegal immigrants and displaced people clearly shows the economic rational behind the neoliberalism twin-strategy of deregulation and regulation.

Conclusion: Global migration management is no contribution to global social justice

The 18th and 19th century pattern of final immigration to otherwise unpopulated continents or where it was accepted to simply terminate the indigenous people has long gone. Post second-world-war concepts of guest or migrants workers who have been anticipated to return once the economic boom was over failed and forced countries such as France, the UK or Germany to accept its role as multi-ethnic societies. However, the new German immigration law in its introduction did make clear that this mistake should not be repeated. IOM and EU now accept global migration as matter of fact but insist in its 'orderly management'. Recent schemes in Germany, the UK, Italy or Spain reveal a preference of just-in-time migration that respond to short term economic demands over long-term settlement. Current trends in immigration management rather reflect a hire-and-fire policy, the result will be the flexibilisation of populations rather than an immigration policy. This trend also awakes some reminiscences of strategies known from Keynesianism, namely those elements, which aimed to domesticate and thereby control social conflict by integrating the working class and its demand for better wages and living standards into capitalist growth. Such a strategy, adapted to migration policy aims to distinguish between the productive and the unproductive elements of migration movements and turn the former into a driving force of economic growth. Beyond the globally mobile elites and temporary needed migrant workers international agencies and national governments rather tend to combine the concept of ethnically homogenous nation states, such as Timor, Kosovo, Kazachstan, Ukraine, Kenia etc. with temporary migration between these entities.

The aggressivity by which the EU, the US and the transnational agencies dominated by them enforce their concepts of immigration control reveal an imperialist move towards simply gaining compliance and obedience of third countries through political, economic, financial and even military force. Where it comes to a politics of immigration for example when the EU or the IMF think aloud about how to respond to a drop in populations and even indicate a need for possibly up to 75 million immigrants that reflects a rather different but equally major planning operation not only in Europe but the world as such. Such a vision, as expressed by former French home minister Chevenement tops anything known from any war related displacement, resettlement or population exchange such as on the Indian subcontinent, or the previous German politics of attracting several million ethnic Germans from Russia to 'come back home'. In such a case migration policy turns into a major population policy process.

To understanding migration and population politics one finally needs to take into account the lessons from Nazi politics on population within the European space in order to understand the concept of the value of a population, its health and productivity, and thereby the link between genocide, starvation, displacement, population management, social question, problem solving strategies to migration, demographic issues and not at least the overall social productivity of capitalist societies. There is a worrying equilibrium between those who are deported from Europe each year, about 350.000 plus an unknown number of those leaving 'voluntarily because of deterrent politics, and those who are recruited on some kind of a foreign labour scheme. In that light migration politics appears as a modus to run 'UK plc' or 'Deutschland AG' and represents a strategy of social engineering to rationalise and to recompose its population, similar to a workforce. That because of its transnational nature is a new quality in migration control.

And finally, to keep the unwanted out, and that is the majority of the world 's population, a cruel global system of deportations and removals, UN-controlled 'safe havens', refugee and internment camps, Pacific prison islands like Nauru, and armed border guards has been established. These are characteristic 21. century symbols of inequality, injustice and the politics of exclusion. On the other hand calls to close down detention centres, stop deportations, no one is illegal, an amnesty for sans papiers, abolish all immigration controls, open borders, as a growing number of activists and scholars alike argue mark the only true way to global social justice and equality.

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