Risk-taking in unauthorised migration
AuthorHernández Carretero, María
This thesis addresses the dynamics of high-risk unauthorised migration. First, it explores how new routes develop in relation to policies that seek to curtail unauthorised migration. Second, it analyses how aspiring migrants justify taking certain risks to migrate by negotiating risk information in relation to their life circumstances and considering the symbolic value of specific forms of migration. Finally and, in relation to the previous, the thesis discusses whether policies that seek to curtail unauthorised migration flows by increasing the likelihood of migrants’ apprehension and repatriation are likely to be effective. In order to explore these questions, this thesis project focuses on the specific case of unauthorised boat migration from West Africa to the Canary Islands, Spain. This route emerged in the year 2006 in relation to increased border control activities along the Strait of Gibraltar and between Morocco and the Canary Islands. In opening a direct link between Sub-Saharan Africa and Europe, the new route from West Africa to the Canary Islands provoked a major change in the dynamics of irregular maritime migration to Spain’s southern borders. Both the number of sub-Saharan migrants arriving on the shores of the Canaries and the length of the itinerary they had followed were unprecedented, and arose much astonishment at the ostensibly very high risks migrants appeared willing to take in order to reach Europe. While it has been argued that migrants following perilous unauthorised migration routes do so out of misinformation about the risks they face, this thesis argues that the relationship between risk information and risk-taking is significantly more complex. Decisions to migrate through high-risk channels are mediated by factors such as aspiring migrants’ options for socio-economic advancement, the social and moral acceptability of certain migration forms and the risks they involve, the religious significance of death, and migrants’ perceptions of their relative preparedness to, and ability to control, the risks they may face. Migration control measures aimed at curtailing unauthorised migration, such as risk awareness campaigns, border patrolling and repatriation are likely to be ineffective if they are based on a simplistic understanding of unauthorised migration dynamics. Careful design of border control measures is necessary to ensure their effectiveness in curbing unauthorised migration flows and upholding their humanitarian concern with protecting the lives of migrants.
PublisherUniversitetet i Tromsø
University of Tromsø
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Copyright 2008 The Author(s)
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