The European Union and the racialization of immigration, 1985-2006

Garner, Steve (2007). The European Union and the racialization of immigration, 1985-2006. Race/Ethnicity: Multidisciplinary Global Contexts, 1(1) pp. 61–87.



Over the past two decades, the European Union (EU) has played an increasingly influential role in the construction of a de facto common immigration and asylum policy, providing a forum for policy-formulation beyond the scrutiny of national parliaments. The guiding principles of this policy include linking the immigration portfolio to security rather than justice; reaffirming the importance of political, conceptual and organizational borders; and attempting to transfer policing and processing functions to non-EU countries. The most important element, I argue, is the structural racialization of immigration that occurs across the various processes and which escapes the focus of much academic scrutiny. Exploring this phenomenon through the concept of the “racial state,” I examine ways to understand the operations of immigration policy-making at the inter-governmental level, giving particular attention to the ways in which asylum-seekers emerge as a newly racialized group who are both stripped of their rights in the global context and deployed as Others in the construction of national narratives.

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