Transcending the Migration Security Dilemma

A Critical Emancipatory Analysis of Irregular Economic Migration Policy


Adi Daniels ’20

International Relations Major
Faculty Sponsor: Eric Singer


The phenomena of undocumented migrant labor, or irregular economic migration, has become a contentious topic in migration studies and global migration policy. Within International Relations, liberal and realist mainstream approaches to irregular economic migration focus on ways to reduce the irregular flow of labor between borders, especially low-skilled labor, on the basis of prioritizing state-security. This research aims to firstly apply the critical concept of emancipation and emancipatory security to the context of irregular economic migration in order to highlight the security needs of migrants. Additionally, the research applies constructivist concepts, especially that of ‘discipline,’ to problematize the behavior of state and intergovernmental institutions towards irregular economic migrants. Based on a review of the literature in critical security studies and critical constructivism in regards to migration, this research finds alternatives to state-essentialist approaches to migration that view emancipation of migrants as mutually beneficial for both them and state citizens.

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