There is considerable variation in how countries deal with the presence of migrants lacking a legal right to stay. We present an analysis of the post-arrival migration enforcement regimes of European countries using a two-phased mixed-methods approach. The article (1) provides the currently best possible statistical overview of forced and assisted return in 12 European countries among rejected asylum seekers from six source countries, and (2) explores policy practices in six Western European and Scandinavian countries regarding deportability and effective non-deportability. While most rejected asylum seekers examined do not demonstrably return, we see highly divergent return patterns between host countries, and significant policy differences. The article thus shows the importance of better examining variation in post-arrival enforcement policies and their underlying interests and capacities. There is not one unified ‘deportation regime’; there are at least four ideal-typical ‘post-arrival enforcement regimes’: thin, thick, targeted, and hampered.

, , , ,
Citizenship Studies
Department of Public Administration and Sociology (DPAS)

Leerkes, A.S, & van Houte, M. (2020). Beyond the deportation regime: differential state interests and capacities in dealing with (non-) deportability in Europe. Citizenship Studies, 24(3), 319–338. Retrieved from