Main content

Do tighter border controls lead to increased migrant illegality?

Thousands die each year attempting to enter Europe via destinations like the Italian island of Lampedusa and the Spanish enclaves of Melilla and Ceuta. But do tighter border controls increase, rather than deter, migrants from making these dangerous journeys?

Ruben Andersson’s book Illegality Inc – winner of this year’s Thinking Allowed/BSA Ethnography Award – is based on several hundred interviews with migrants, non-governmental organisations and international officials, border guards, charity workers, activists and smugglers.

He argues that the industries set up to control migration actually lead migrants to take greater risks along more dangerous routes. As more and more money is spent in an attempt to regulate movement, these industries only create more illegal behaviour.