Winners of the 3rd Border Criminologies Dissertation Prize

We are proud to announce the winners of the third Border Criminologies Masters Dissertation/Thesis Prize. The winner and the runner up will receive £200 and £100 worth of Routledge books.

Border Criminologies seeks to support early career researchers working on the intersections between border control and criminal justice. From a strong shortlist of 4 entries, the competition panel, consisting of academics from the Border Criminologies Network identified the following winners:

Bill De La Rosa, winner, University of Oxford, Criminalization, Social Exclusion, and Punishment: The United States Prosecution of Migrants Under Operation Streamline. You can read the dissertation here

Drawing on ethnographic observations in the Federal District Court of Tucson, Arizona and deportation proceedings at the US-Mexico border, five in-depth semi-structured interviews, as well as an array of evidence including photographs, government documents, news articles, and secondary literature, this dissertation critically examines the criminal prosecution of migrants under Operation Streamline. Established in 2005, Streamline is a federal program which criminally prosecutes migrants in a mass fast-track hearing in order to deter undocumented migration. Streamline, however, does not achieve its purported purpose; instead, the policy does more than it claims. In this dissertation I argue that Streamline has reshaped how the US enforces border controls, cementing the criminal justice system as a mechanism for the management of noncitizens. Consequently, by processing undocumented migrants through the criminal justice system while not affording them basic principles of fairness and equal treatment under the law, the US has conjured a legally sanctioned apparatus that criminalizes, excludes, and unjustly punishes low income migrants from Latin America. This dissertation contributes new original material about the treatment of undocumented migrants from Latin America at the US-Mexico border and illuminates the racialised nature and impact of the intersection between criminal justice and border controls.

Samuel Singler, runner up, University of Oxford, “Our Role Is Technical Rather Than Political”: Explaining the Ascendancy and Proliferation of ‘Smart Borders’ in the European Union. You can read the dissertation here

This thesis untangles the many potential drivers of EU border security policies, in order to explain the proliferation of ‘smart borders’ since 2001. It draws theoretically on insights from Critical Security Studies and Actor-Network Theory, and is empirically based on document analysis and qualitative elite interviews with officials from the European Commission, the European Parliament, and the European Data Protection Supervisor. These theoretical and empirical insights are used to argue against the traditional International Relations account of security policy formation, according to which post-2001 border security policies are a rational and proportionate response to a new threat environment ushered in by globalization and made apparent by terror attacks in New York, Madrid, London, and elsewhere. Contrary to this traditional account, this thesis provides a threefold explanation of the ascendancy of ‘smart borders’ in the EU.

Congratulations to the winners! We would like to thank all those who submitted their work and hope that they will contribute to the Border Criminologies blog.