Hostile Environments: State Infrastructural Power and the Exclusion of Unauthorized Migrants in Western Europe

Please note that registration ends on 1 Mar

“Immigration enforcement” often calls to mind border policing or efforts to deport undocumented migrants. Yet, governments also increasingly employ strategies of exclusion – denying migrants access to public and private resources in the hope of encouraging them to voluntarily leave and deterring future arrivals. This paper evaluates the implementation of these measures in three European countries as a way to improve our understanding of the operation of state power. Drawing on and developing Mann’s concept of infrastructural power, I show how implementation requires both administrative coordination and linkages to social groups – qualities more present in some countries than others. The features of state power reflect preexisting administrative systems for population oversight, as well as the nature of industrial relations, both of which provide resources state officials redeploy for immigration control. In instituting these measures, officials augment their capacities for overseeing non-migrants as well, so that all citizens and denizens are subject to increased supervision.