Private Security and the Migration Control Industry

Authored by: Thomas Gammeltoft-Hansen

Routledge Handbook of Private Security Studies

Print publication date:  October  2015
Online publication date:  October  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415729352
eBook ISBN: 9781315850986
Adobe ISBN:


 Download Chapter



Border control has always been a core sovereign prerogative of the state. Yet, as unchecked immigration is increasingly perceived to challenge sovereignty, the response – paradoxically – has been a substantial outsourcing of border control itself to private security actors. The popularity of private migration management can be linked to several factors. Immigration is an area wrought with fundamental policy dilemmas; who and how many to admit and how to balance efficient immigration control and human rights principles? Private companies promise to cut the Gordian knot of separating the wanted from the unwanted in an efficient manner, often promoting technological innovations such as biometrics, digital surveillance and elaborate electronic entry–exit systems. Second, the migration control industry is part of a general commercialization of international migration, with equally profitable companies engaged in facilitating both legal and illegal migration (Gammeltoft-Hansen and Nyberg Sørensen 2013). Third, as in other sectors of public governance, privatizing migration management has been presented as cost-saving, though several studies have challenged this presumption, pointing out that if governments are not footing the bill, migrants will through the cuts on services provided (Menz 2013). Last, but not least, as immigration has come to be perceived as a security matter for many states, the move to privatization can be interpreted as part and parcel of the turn to private security more generally (Salter 2007; Guiraudon 2006; Bigo 2002).

Search for more...
Back to top

Use of cookies on this website

We are using cookies to provide statistics that help us give you the best experience of our site. You can find out more in our Privacy Policy. By continuing to use the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.