External Staff Publications

First Perspectives on the Zero Draft for the UN Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration

Following the recent publication of the Zero Draft for a UN Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, 17 expert academics—including GDP Researcher, Izabella Majcher—provide commentary on the positive and negative aspects of the Objectives, as well as the necessary follow up.

Uneven Business: Privatisation of Immigration Detention in Europe

Europe reflects a variety of policy responses to the growth of the immigration control industry – from the privatisation of the management of entire immigration detention estates to keeping all detention facilities in official hands and employing private non-profit groups. In this chapter, Michael Flynn, Matthew Flynn, and Eryn Wagon detail the variety of levels and forms of privatisation adopted across the region, as well as the challenges that the outsourcing of immigration controls posits.

Challenging Immigration Detention: Academics, Activists, and Policy-makers

Governments increasingly rely upon detention to control the movement of undocumented migrants and asylum seekers. Approaching detention from an interdisciplinary perspective, this new edited volume brings together leading writers and thinkers to provide a greater understanding of why it is such an important social phenomenon and suggest ways to confront it locally and globally.

Kidnapped, Trafficked, Detained? The Implications of Non-state Actor Involvement in Immigration Detention

This article critically assesses a range of new non-state actors who have become involved in the deprivation of liberty of migrants and asylum seekers, describes the various forces that appear to be driving their engagement, and makes a series of recommendations concerning the role of non-state actors and detention in global efforts to manage international migration.

Putting Immigration Detention in Interdisciplinary Perspective

What can we learn from the interdisciplinary study of immigration detention regimes? Michael Flynn explains in this essay for Oxford University’s “Border Criminologies” research network.

Immigration Detention and Statelessness

The Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion interviews the GDP’s Mariette Grange about the detention of stateless persons and the importance of international human rights standards in safeguarding the rights of this vulnerable population.

Border Securitization and Containment vs. Fundamental Rights: The European Union’s “Refugee Crisis”

When the “refugee crisis” surged to the forefront of the EU’s agenda in 2015, it did little to discourage the xenophobic wave that swept across member states. It did just the opposite.

Detained Beyond the Sovereign: Conceptualising Non-State Actor Involvement in Immigration Detention

In this chapter for the recent book Intimate Economies of Immigration Detention (Routledge, 2016), Michael Flynn discusses the emergence of new actors in immigration detention systems across the globe and the challenges this poses in efforts to hold states accountable.

From Bare Life to Bureaucratic Capitalism: Analyzing the Growth of the Immigration Detention Industry as a Complex Organization

This journal article by a GDP Contributing Researcher assesses post-structuralist approaches to the study of immigration detention, contrasting them with conceptual approaches developed in bureaucratic capitalism, which highlight the various private- and public-sector interests impacting the evolution of detention regimes.

The Immigration Detention Puzzle

We should be shocked that so many countries fail to provide even basic details about their immigration detention practices. And yet, for those who have worked on this issue over the last two decades, the absence of public accountability about detention comes as no surprise.

Sovereign Discomfort: Can Liberal Norms Lead to Increasing Immigration Detention?

Liberal democracies betray discomfort at public scrutiny of immigration detention, neglecting to release statistics, cloaking detention in misleading names, and limiting what they define as deprivation of liberty. These countries have also expanded their detention activities and encourageed their neighbors to do the same. What explains this simultaneous reticence towards and embrace of detention?

Detaining Outsiders: Migrants, Borders, and Security

Research undertaken by the Global Detention Project indicates that an often over-looked variable shaping detention policies and practices is the response by states to pressure stemming from key international norms relevant to the rights of non-citizens, including the right to liberty and security of the person. Available here.

The CJEU’s Ruling in Celaj: Criminal penalties, entry bans and the Returns Directive

In its ruling in the Skerdjan Celaj case (C-290/14), rendered on 1st October 2015, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) addressed once again the relation between immigration and criminal law and in particular the compatibility of national penal measures imposed as a punishment for irregular migration with the EU Returns Directive.

Discipline and Punish? Analysis of the Purposes of Immigration Detention in Europe

Pre-removal detention is usually considered an administrative measure aimed at the facilitation of the removal of irregular migrants by preventing them from absconding during removal proceedings. The administrative nature of immigration detention implies that persons subject to this measure do not have access to the fair trial guarantees that criminal detainees are entitled to. However, the assessment of pre-removal detention under European Union and Swiss legislation demonstrates the penal nature of such detention despite its formal administrative classification.

Immigration detention in Europe: What are the facts? A new European Migration Network Study

Read the blog here.

The EU Returns Directive and the Use of Prisons for Detaining Migrants in Europe

Can immigration detainees be held in prisons? Can they be confined alongside ordinary prisoners? On 17 July 2014, in its decisions on the joint cases of Bero & Bouzalmate and the case of Pham, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) rendered its opinion on these practices.

Human Rights Violations during EU Border Surveillance and Return Operations: Frontex’ Shared Responsibility or Complicity?

As the International Law Association highlights “[power] entails accountability, that is the duty to account for its exercise.” Against this background, the article focuses on the question of accountability of the European Union (EU) border agency Frontex for potential human rights violations that may occur in the course of its operations. The article aims to […]

There and Back Again: On the Diffusion of Immigration Detention

From Mexico to the Bahamas, Mauritania to Lebanon, Turkey to Saudi Arabia, South Africa to Indonesia, Malaysia to Thailand, immigration-related detention has become an established policy apparatus that counts on dedicated facilities and burgeoning institutional bureaucracies. Until relatively recently, however, detention appears to have been largely an ad hoc tool, employed mainly by wealthy states in exigent circumstances. This paper uses concepts from diffusion theory to detail the history of key policy events in several important immigration destination countries that led to the spreading of detention practices during the last 30 years and assesses some of the motives that appear to have encouraged this phenomenon.

Alternativas al Internamiento de Inmigrantes en Situacion Irregular

Crimmigration in the European Union: The Case of Immigration Detention

For over a decade U.S immigration scholars and practitioners have observed a growing convergence between criminal justice and migration control systems. Regular posts at the crImmigration.com blog document the spread of this phenomenon in the U.S. This post, which builds on the author’s Global Detention Project working paper “Crimmigration” in the European Union through the […]

Alternatives to Detention


Does making immigration detention more humane make it more widespread?

Online debate between Michael Flynn (Global Detention Projecy) and Michelle Brané (Women’s Refugee Commission) over the strategies for countering the growth of immigration detention. Read entire debate here.

Immigration, Human Rights, and Language

New research from the Global Detention Project publicized on the Border Criminologies website. See post here. 

Whither Alternatives to Detention

Contribution to the “Border Criminologies” program at Oxford University regarding the debate over the impact of “alternatives” to immigration detention. Read post here. 

The European Union Returns Directive: Does it prevent arbitrary detention?

This article provides a critical analysis of immigration detention regime under European Union (EU) law. It assesses the relevant provisions of the EU Returns Directive and their domestic implementation in several EU states against the underlying requirement for any deprivation of liberty not to amount to arbitrary detention. Three elements embodied in this requirement are highlighted: the exceptional nature […]

Be careful what you wish for

Can the promotion of liberal norms have an unintended – and damaging – impact on how states confront the challenges of irregular immigration? Article for the Forced Migration Review. Read the full article here.

Who Must Be Detained? Proportionality as a Tool for Critiquing Immigration Detention Policy

The article for Refugee Survey Quarterly endeavours to use the legal principle of proportionality as a tool to critique immigration detention practices and policies. To this end, the article proposes a methodology for assessing operations at detention centres that opens the phenomenon up to empirical study and allows for comparative research of detention practices across […]

Rethinking Pre-removal Immigration Detention in the United States: Lessons from Europe and Proposals for Reform

In this article for Refugee Survey Quarterly, Christina Fialho, a former research intern at the Global Detention Project and founder of the California-based Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC), examines the legality of lengthy detention of non-citizens held in pre-removal immigration detention in the United States, while presenting a comparative analysis of the European Union and […]

Europe: On Its Borders New Problems

Where’s the U.S. Border? Portraits of an Elastic Frontier

Who’s Trying to Cross the Border? Everyone

What’s the Deal at Manta?

The United States said it would restrict its activities at Manta to anti-drug efforts—so why is it messing with migrants and more?

U.S.-Ecuador: Stretching Borders to Block Migrants

The Elastic Frontier

Concurrent with high-profile border control efforts, the United States has been busy quietly formulating and putting in place a strategy aimed at pushing migrant interdiction, detention, and deterrence into neighboring countries. These beyond-the-border efforts have led some observers to describe what they see as the southward migration of the U.S.-Mexico border, or to call the […]

Searching for Safe Haven

Most of the world’s up-rooted are migrants—people who have left their countries in search of food, better living conditions, jobs, or to be with family members. Who deserves protection? What responsibilities should governments and the international community shoulder? How can refugee pro- tection efforts be fine-tuned? What is the price we pay for not coming […]

U.S. Immigration Policies: The Double Standard

This op-ed for the Chicago Trbiune assesses the U.S. detention policy enshrining a double standard between treatment of Haitians that was quietly issued in 2001 by the Bush administration in the hopes of deterring a wave of migrants and asylum seekers fleeing the rapidly deteriorating political and economic conditions in Haiti. Haitians making it to U.S. territory would […]

Guatemala: Is This Peace?

Donde Esta La Frontera?

Millions try each year to slip into the United States through its “soft underbelly”—the U.S.- Mexico border. The U.S. government’s solution: Move the border south.