Globalised citizenship and the perceived legitimacy of immigration control: narratives and acts of resistance in immigration detention

Marieke Van Houte, Arjen Leerkes, Alice Slipper, Lars Breuls

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Abstract

This article considers the legitimacy deficits of immigration control in the eyes of unwanted migrants. We explore the consequences of globalisation-related changes in the institution of citizenship for the perceived legitimacy and operation of immigration control. The study is based on ethnographic research and in-depth interviews in 2018 with 35 migrants in the Detention Centre Rotterdam, the Netherlands. We find that immigration detainees use both denationalised and transnational/cosmopolitan definitions of citizenship and belonging to contest the legitimacy of restrictive admission requirements and, to a lesser extent, the authority of states to stipulate and implement admission requirements. Based on these narratives, immigration detainees engage in forms of resistance that are meant to diminish the likelihood of deportation (‘instrumental resistance’) and in forms of resistance that are unlikely to change the outcome of the deportation procedure yet do make immigration control more costly for states (‘expressive resistance’). The narratives and strategies of resistance seem correlated with length of stay: settled migrants seem more inclined to use denationalised repertoires and instrumental resistance. Our analysis confirms the need for migration scholars to pay more attention to changing social norms regarding the perceived legitimacy of immigration control for the operation and outcomes of immigration control. The results are therefore relevant for our thinking about the future of migration governance in the context of globalisation-related changes in the institution of citizenship.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
JournalMigration Studies
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 25 Jan 2021

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