This article analyses the development of three EU migration databases and their significance for the internal control of irregular migrants. Because borders and immigration policy alone cannot stop irregular migration, many governments turn to internal migration control on settled irregular migrants. Surveillance of this group is aimed at their exclusion from key societal institutions, discouraging their stay and ultimately, the deportation of apprehended irregular migrants. These are policies in which identification of irregular migrants is crucial. In this age, registration and identification mean computerized and networked databases. The member states of the EU are currently developing a network of databases in the field of (irregular) immigration. The Schengen Information System (II), the Eurodac database and the Visa Information System are vast databases, often including biometric data, aimed at controlling migration flows and identifying and sorting legal and irregular migrants. These systems are able to 're-identify' parts of the population of irregular migrants on the basis of digital traces of their migration history. It is argued that the digital infrastructure that is now growing past its infancy is developing into a formidable tool for the surveillance of irregular migrants in Europe.

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International Sociology
Department of Sociology

Broeders, D. (2007). The new digital borders of Europe: EU databases and the surveillance of irregular migrants. International Sociology, 22(1), 71–92. doi:10.1177/0268580907070126