Guest post by Maartje van der Woude and Robert Koulish. Maartje is Professor of Law and Society at the Van Vollenhoven Institute for Law, Governance and Society at Leiden University, the Netherlands. Her recent work examines the politics and dialectics of terrorism/crime control, immigration control and border control in the European Union and the growing merger of all three, also referred to as the process of crimmigration. She is currently working on a 5-year research project - “Getting to the Core of Crimmigration” - that was funded by the Dutch Research Council (NWO) by means of one of their VIDI grants. Robert is a political scientist at the University of Maryland, Director of the MLAW Programs in the BSOS College at UMD, Joel J. Feller Research Professor in the Department of Government and Politics, and Lecturer at Law in the UMD Carey School of Law. He is the author or co-author of Immigration and American Democracy: Subverting the Rule of Law and Immigration Detention, Risk and Human Rights. This post is the first installment of the Border Criminologies themed series on Crimmigrant Nations organised by Maartje and Robert.

The spread of the Corona virus and anti-police brutality uprisings across the globe are contributing to – and being actively use to stoke – increasing nativist fears about foreigners bringing disease, government's inability to protect the Nation, and shadowy global conspiracies. The virus, presented as one of multiple shadow sides of globalization, has led to the closing of borders and the deepening of already present divides in Western societies. As quarantines have gradually lifted, anti-police uprisings sparked by the murder of George Floyd have shined a light on abusive State power against people of color. Divides might only by furthered by measures such as social distancing as a result of which people are constantly made aware of the notion of a potential ‘dangerous other’. 

The police murder of George Floyd, just as ‘stay at home’ orders have begun to lift, has honed the people’s pent up outrage against the government’s incompetent handling of COVID in the U.S., U.K., and elsewhere. The people’s fear and the governments’ pointing to a real or imagined enemy that must be hated and fought against is common among populist demagogues in the United States and Europe and predates the Covid19 crisis and George Floyd’s murder. While Donald Trump has been raging against the Mexican immigrants and Muslims, in Europe – especially in after the onset of the 2015 so called “European Immigration Crisis” the enemy has rapidly become the refugee. The politicization of migration and the tendency to ‘govern through migration control’ merged with a growing awareness of the uncertainties of the current globalized times. The need to find scapegoats to project these anxieties upon is leading the nationalist agenda on both sides of the Atlantic. 

By looking at debates, practices and policies on migration and migration control in both the United States, Europe, Turkey and Britain, the authors in the edited collection Crimmigrant Nations: Resurgent Nationalism and the Closing of Borders (2020, Fordham University Press) aim to show not only how anti-immigrant sentiments and nationalist discourse are on the rise in western liberal democracies, but also how these sentiments are being translated into actual policies and practices that contribute to a merger of crime and migration control with devastating effects for those falling under its reach.

Following Weber & McCulloch, by combining the crimmigration frame with scholarship on nationalism and populism the various contributions in Crimmigrant Nations address the how (what measures are taken), the why (the rationale behind these measures and policies) and the who (who is subjected to exclusion as a result of these measures) of immigration and border control. By collecting different case studies in which attention is paid to the multiscalar character of debates, decision-making and practices of migration and border control in which local, national and supranational actors, tensions and interests play a role, this edited collection looks beyond the local or the national.

Over the next two weeks, several contributors to Crimmigrant Nations will share some of the insights based on their chapters through this themed blog series. The blogs highlight the commonalities in how migration is dealt with – and perhaps even more, how it is presented – across the globe and therewith illustrate the necessity for scholars to move beyond the frame of the nation state in analyzing transnational phenomena such as cross-border crime, migration and a pandemic.

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How to cite this blog post (Harvard style) 

van der Woude, M. and Koulish, R. (2020). Introduction to Themed Series: Crimmigrant Nations. Available at: https://www.law.ox.ac.uk/research-subject-groups/centre-criminology/centreborder-criminologies/blog/2020/06/introduction [date]