Standard Article

Migration control

Migration A–Z


  1. David Cook-Martín

Published Online: 4 FEB 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781444351071.wbeghm371

The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration

The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration

How to Cite

Cook-Martín, D. 2013. Migration control. The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration.

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 4 FEB 2013


Migration control in today's popular and scholarly imaginings generally refers to governments' ability to determine who enters and leaves a country's territory as well as what they do while there. Visas and permits, fraud-proof passports, consular vetting, documentary proof, border checkpoints, militarized frontiers, and surveillance have been administrative mechanisms used by officials to exercise control over people's movement across borders. A government's capacity to control immigration is often conceived mechanistically as the pulling of levers that open, close, or regulate gates that determine people flows. When circumstances reveal that officials do not have absolute control of borders or territories, the inference is that they are inept, have no political will, or harbor ulterior motives. The assumption of full control is rarely challenged. The capacity to control or legitimately manage the movement of people across borders and the conditions of their permanence within a jurisdiction is a feature of modern state organizations that is taken for granted.


  • assimilation and exclusion;
  • ethnocentrism;
  • immigration;
  • social policy