At the Intersection of Domestic Acts and Globalization: The Case of Irregular Migrants15

Federico Daniel Burlon
Content Type
Journal Article
Macalester International
Issue Number
Publication Date
March 2011
Macalester College
Sixty-five percent of the Netherlands is below sea level: ten thousand miles of dykes, gates, and dams hold back the sea. As the water besieges the land, some politicians and scholars claim that immigrants are doing the same to the country. On the other side of the Atlantic, immigration to the United States also has been compared to a tide that must be contained. The fears surrounding immigration have been one of the focal points raised by former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan and by his successor, Ban Ki-moon. As a result of the dramatic increase of migration flows and the large number of irregular migrants worldwide, immigration has moved from low to high politics. Fuelled by a mentality that sees domestic security as threatened, the salience of irregular immigration is grounded in parallels drawn between the control of illegal immigration and the control of crime. According to Adam Crawford, the conflation of illegal immigration with crime has led Western governments to rule through the politics of fear of crime and insecurity. The impact of these policies on irregular immigrants illustrates what John Tomlinson calls the reflexive nature of globalization. An insightful avenue to take in order to explore globalization is the study of human mobility. Globalization has placed immigrants at the nexus of the increase in migration due to lower transportation costs, the development of the international human rights regime, and the enactment of increasingly restrictive immigration policies by developed countries. The interplay between these processes crystallizes in detention centers, and renders immigrants vulnerable to human rights violations. Studying globalization from a comparative perspective, this essay analyzes the impact of the International Human Rights Regime (IHRR) on American and Dutch immigration detention policies. In the last decades, detention has become the established way of dealing with irregular migrants. It lamentably obscures various essential examples of alternative legislation.
Globalization, Human Rights, United Nations
Political Geography
United States, America, Netherlands