The paradoxical merger of humanitarian care and securitization imperatives can be seen not only at external and externalized borders, but also at the internal borders in the Netherlands. Here, humanitarian organizations that sprang up to support migrants without a legal status in response to – and given their disagreement with – the state’s exclusionary migration policies have become involved in migration control. During a gradual and subtle responsibilization process, the Dutch authorities have used specific measures and redirected monetary flows in order to incorporate these organizations into its broader migration control policies. This has resulted in a decrease in the number of support organizations for unauthorized migrants, a reduction in their independence and autonomy, and an increased focus on selection and return. Ethnographic fieldwork amongst unauthorized migrants illustrates the consequences of this exclusionary control. These migrants experience exclusion, selection and enforcement by humanitarian organizations and doubt the trustworthiness of these organizations. This development seems to fit in with the broader trend of European states disarming humanitarian organizations for unauthorized migrants by either responsibilizing or criminalizing them. However, these strategies are not without consequences because they run the risk that unauthorized migrants will further withdraw and turn away from this type of assistance altogether. We use both a humanitarian and a pragmatic perspective to argue that it would make sense for states either to allow organizations to continue their – uncompromised and unconditional – support for unauthorized migrants or to adapt their migration policies in such a way that humanitarian support becomes redundant.

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European Journal of Criminology
Erasmus University Rotterdam

Kox, M. (Mieke), & Staring, R.H.J.M. (2020). ‘If you don’t have documents or a legal procedure, you are out!’ Making humanitarian organizations partner in migration control. European Journal of Criminology. doi:10.1177/1477370820932079