There has been growing pressure on states to “solve” the phenomenon of irregular migration. Destination countries have transferred this pressure onto transit countries, which are assumed to have the political will, ability, and means to stop irregular migration. This special section looks at the ways in which transit countries respond to challenges, pressures, and compromises in matters of irregular migration policies through a number of empirical case studies. Making transit countries the main focus, this special section aims to scrutinize domestic policy discourses in the transit countries, which are influenced by regional agreements and economic incentives from abroad but are also shaped by local interests and a wide range of actors. Of special interest is to understand whether the logics of destination countries that favor deterrence and exclusion have been adopted by politicians and the public discourse within transit countries.
Reconceptualizing Transit State in an Era of Outsourcing, Offshoring, and Obfuscation
Antje Missbach and Melissa Phillips
The Case of Irregular Migration from Libya
Libya is a significant transit country for irregular migration to Europe and is therefore the site of much effort by external policy makers, notably the European Union. External actors have been unable to formalize workable agreements with Libyan authorities to address or stop onward migration to Europe. Instead, they have been forced to develop arrangements with Libya’s neighboring countries to work around this impasse. This article examines the rhetoric behind efforts by individual European countries and the European Union to implement externally produced migration policies. From crisis narratives to invoking a humanitarian imperative to “save lives,” it is argued that these tropes justify various, at times competing, agendas. This results in almost no tangible improvement to the situation of irregular migrants or the capacity of authorities to deal with irregular migration, with one exception being that of the Libyan coast guard.
Militarized, externalized, and regionalized
Choo Chin Low
English abstract: This article examines how migration control in Malaysia has been transformed in response to non-traditional security threats. Since the 2010s, the state has expanded the territorial reach of its immigration enforcement through trilateral border patrol initiatives and multilateral defense establishments. Malaysia’s extraterritorial policy is mostly implemented through the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) frameworks. Common geopolitical security concerns, particularly the transnational crime and terrorism confronted by Malaysia and its bordering countries, have led to extraterritorial control measures to secure its external borders. Key elements include the growing involvement of the army, the institutionalization of border externalization, and the strengthening of the ASEAN’s regional immigration cooperation. By analyzing the ASEAN’s intergovernmental collaboration, this article demonstrates that Malaysia’s extraterritorial migration practices are militarized, externalized, and regionalized.
Spanish abstract: Este artículo examina la transformación del control migratorio en Malasia en respuesta a las amenazas de seguridad no tradicionales. Desde 2010, el estado aumentó el alcance territorial de su control migratorio a través de patrullas fronterizas trilaterales y establecimiento de defensa multilateral. La política extraterritorial de Malasia tiene como marco principal la Asociación de Naciones del Sureste Asiático (ASEAN en inglés). Las preocupaciones de seguridad geopolítica comunes, particularmente los delitos y el terrorismo transnacional, provocaron medidas de control extraterritorial para asegurar sus fronteras externas. Los elementos clave son la creciente implicación del ejército, la institucionalización de la externalización de fronteras y el fortalecimiento de la cooperación regional en inmigración de ASEAN. Este artículo demuestra que las prácticas migratorias extraterritoriales de Malasia están militarizadas, externalizadas y regionalizadas.
French abstract: L’article analyse les changements apportés aux services de con trôle de la migration en Malaisie. Depuis 2010, l’État a étendu son champ d’action et mis en place des initiatives de patrouilles frontalières trilatérales, de défense multilatérale et une police extraterritoriale déployée sous l’impulsion de l’Association des nations de l’Asie du Sud-Est (ANASE). Les problèmes de sécurité géopolitique, comme la criminalité transnationale et le terrorisme qui sévissent en Malaisie et dans les pays voisins, ont donné lieu à des mesures extraterritoriales pour sécuriser les frontières extérieures. Parmi elles, figurent l’implication de l’armée, l’externalisation institutionnalisée du contrôle aux frontières et le renforcement de la coopération de l’ANASE en matière d’immigration. Par l’analyse de cette coopération intergouvernementale, cet article démontre que la politique migratoire malaisienne est régie par la militarisation, l’externalisation et la régionalisation.
Malaysian and Indonesian Responses to Australia's Migration and Border Policies
Antje Missbach and Gerhard Hoffstaedter
The growing literature on transit countries places much emphasis on the policy interventions of destination countries. In the case of Southeast Asia, Australian policies have disproportionate effects across borders into the region, including those of Indonesia and Malaysia. However, so-called transit countries also counterweigh foreign policy incursions with domestic politics, their own policies of externalizing their borders, and negotiations with destination countries to fund their domestic capacity. While Malaysia and Indonesia share many characteristics as transit countries, they are also noteworthy cases of how they negotiate their own interests in making difficult decisions regarding irregular migration in the region and how responsibility and burdens should be shared.
Stemming the Flows of Migrants, but at What Cost?
Since 2015, the European Union has stepped up its efforts to curb irregular migration from sub-Saharan Africa through increasingly restrictive measures targeting transit countries along migratory routes, including Niger. While the EU has heralded the success of its policies to limit migration through Niger, EU migration policies have disrupted the economic system in Agadez, where transit migration has been one of the main sources of income and a factor of stability since the end of the Tuareg rebellions in 2009. This article discusses the impact that EU migration policies may have at the local level in countries of transit, and highlights the potential for these policies to fuel tensions between local and national authorities. The Agadez case study illustrates the importance of a multilevel approach to migration governance that takes into full consideration the role of local authorities and local communities in countries of transit.