Post by Rebecca Powell (Monash University), with convenors of the Australia and New Zealand Society of Criminology (ANZSOC) ‘Crimmigration and border control’ thematic group, Associate Professor Leanne Weber (Monash University), Professor and Head of School Alison Gerard (University of Canberra) and Associate Professor Marinella Marmo (Flinders University). All are members of the Border Crossing Observatory, virtual research centre based at Monash University. This is the first installment of the Border Criminologies themed series on 'Crimmigration and Australian Border Control'. 

The ‘Crimmigration and border control’ thematic group emerged in 2019 in response to an initiative of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology (ANZSOC) to promote coordination around members’ research themes. The group is based around the emerging sub-discipline variously described as ‘border criminology’ or the ‘criminology of mobility’, and brings together members who undertake research on ‘crimmigration’. Members of this thematic group are at the forefront of interdisciplinary efforts to understand the context for the expansion and effectiveness of crimmigration and other forms of border control, and their impact on sovereignty, mobility, lived experience, and long-standing criminal justice and immigration procedures and processes. In this blog series ‘Crimmigration and Australian border control’ we feature posts from six  members of the thematic group: Rebecca Powell, Claire Loughnan (University of Melbourne), Marinella Marmo, Alison Gerard,  Faith Gordon (Monash University) who writes with colleagues Rumyana van Ark (T.M.C. Asser Institute) and Devyani Prabhat (University of Bristol), and Leanne Weber.

This series aims to present the impact of crimmigration-based border control policies and practices against ‘risky’ non-citizens in the Australian national security context. This includes diverse settings such as the criminal deportations system, the offshore immigration detention network, border management and the challenges associated with upholding citizenship and protecting the rights of children of foreign fighters who have links to Australia. It concludes with a reflection on the current state and potential shifts in border control, including in Australia, in the wake of COVID-19.

Rebecca Powell, Managing Director of the Border Crossing Observatory and part-time PhD candidate, is researching the deportation of convicted New Zealanders from Australia under Section 501 of the Migration Act 1958 (Cth) – known as the ‘character test’. Whilst the objective of Rebecca’s research is to examine Australia’s criminal deportation system, her blog post focuses on tracing the characteristics of crimmigration (and by extension risk and pre-crime) in the evolution of Australia’s criminal deportation policy from 1958-2018. In doing so, she seeks to understand the overall increasing trend, and particular spike from 2015, in the number of deportations of convicted non-citizens from Australia. Significant policy developments around the expansion of both legislative and policy grounds and executive power to cancel the visas of convicted non-citizens provide insight into this escalation.

Claire Loughnan from Melbourne University focuses on a gendered analysis of resistance by 400 men detained on Manus Island Immigration Detention Centre in 2017 in response to the Papua New Guinean Government’s orders to close the Centre. Referring to former detainee Behrouz Boochani’s interpretation of Australia’s offshore detention regime as a ‘Kyriarchal’ system that is distinctly patriarchal and masculinist, Loughnan draws on, then extends from, Makau Matua’s intensely racialised and colonialised human rights triptych that rests on ‘savages, victims and (Western) saviour’. She argues that the application of this triptych to Australia’s offshore detention supports a crimmigration approach to Australia’s border control against the “risky, threatening ‘other’” detainees that frames the men as “masculinised and racialised savage(s)”, undeserving of human rights. Extending from Matua’s human rights approach, Loughnan provides a feminist counter analysis with reference to Boochani’s recent 2018 publication ‘No friend but the Mountains’ and Hoda Afshar’s film ‘Remain’, both of which include testimonies from the detained men on Manus Island following 23 days of resistance as a means to show them “as human, as just men”.

Marinella Marmo of Flinders University and Alison Gerard from the University of Canberra explore the introduction of a new international policy guide for the security and justice sector that claims to promote a gender perspective in border management. Border Management and Gender is a guide developed in collaboration between UN Women, the Geneva Centre for Security Sector Governance and the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights. The first guide was published 10 years ago and whilst this update is welcome, Marmo and Gerard consider important narratives overlooked in the guide, that reveal the systematic nature of violence experienced by intersectional women at the borderlands of the Global North.

Faith Gordon from Monash University with colleagues Rumyana van Ark, from T.M.C Asser Institute and Devyani Prabhat from the University of Bristol, consider the under-researched area of the rights of children of foreign fighters who have links to Australia. Their post explores central concerns for children through the dual lens of ‘crimmigration’ and international children’s rights law. Casting a crimmigration lens over Australia’s security and counter-terrorism response which is highly punitive and operates to deprive foreign fighters of their citizenship, authors reveal that the citizenship rights of their children, legal protections and the opportunity for return to countries of origin and remaining family, are diminished. The lack of repatriation, indirect deprivation of core citizenship rights and other barriers to return of children increase statelessness and falsely pit children’s rights (human security) against national security.

Leanne Weber, Director of the Border Crossing Observatory, draws from and reflects on her ‘Re-thinking border control for a globalising world’ project from 2015, situating her blog post in the current COVID-19 crisis. Re-visiting particular contributions to that project from world leaders in their respective fields, Rainer Bauböck, Saskia Sassen and Nancy Wonders, Weber reconsiders their blue sky thinking on the future potential and possibility of relaxed borders in the wake of COVID. She wonders if this might just be a moment of transformation in bordering and border control towards, perhaps counter-intuitively, a more open and less restrictive world.

Through this series, we showcase the depth of Australian border criminology and the intersections of crimmigration policy and practice at the local, national and global level.

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How to cite this blog post (Harvard style) 

Powell, R., Weber, L., Gerard, A. and  Marmo, M. (2020). Editorial: ‘Crimmigration and Australian Border Control’ Border Criminologies Series. Available at: https://www.law.ox.ac.uk/research-subject-groups/centre-criminology/centreborder-criminologies/blog/2020/06/editorial [date]