Irregular Migrants in London and Barcelona: Between Local Integration and State Policies of Internal Immigration Control

Reinhard Schweitzer //SCMR & Geography// Wednesday 9th March 2016//1-2pm//Arts C133


Irregular migrants are defined as people who live in a country where they have no
formal right of residence. My research does not look at how (or why) they got there, but
how their immigration status affects some of their most fundamental relationships and
interactions with the societies in which they live.

While the recent advent of border controls and -fences tragically illustrates and
reinforces the confines of national territories, immigration control itself doesn’t stop at
the border. Instead, it increasingly targets irregular migrants’ integration in their places
of residence, often by rendering their various dealings with other individuals and
institutions unlawful. One of the consequences of this development is that the task to
control immigration – some say the most fundamental responsibility of the modern
nation state – is not (any more) carried out by border guards alone, but increasingly
involves all kinds of people and professions, including employers, health care staff,
social workers, bank clerks, landlords, and – if they are willing to participate – private

In this lecture I try to look at migrant irregularity from the perspective of those people
who in various ways and to very different degrees are becoming part of this immigration
control and to develop a framework for the comparative analysis of these relationships
across different contexts and sectors.

I think that looking at the local-level incorporation of those who are not supposed to
even be here, let alone to integrate into society, and who are thus (more or less explicitly
and effectively) excluded from many basic rights and services, can tell us a lot about the
integration of immigrants but also society as a whole, about policies that aim to enforce
or prevent it, as well as the meaning of migrant irregularity itself.


PhD candidate (3rd year) and research fellow at the Department of Geography, University
of Sussex.

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