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Keywords:

  • securitisation theory;
  • EU immigration policy;
  • quantitative method;
  • LIWC;
  • framing

Has immigration been securitised at the EU level? The question has been hotly discussed, but no consensus has been reached. This article claims that two shortcomings – one methodological, one theoretical – in the empirical conduct of securitisation theory (ST) have provoked this lack of consensus. Taking this situation as an opportunity, a quantitative method is introduced that addresses these two shortcomings, thereby helping to reach a stronger claim on the securitisation of immigration at the EU level. By measuring the intensity of the security framing in EU legislation on immigration, the method helps avoid simplistic binary statements of (non-)securitisation and encourages the scholar to acknowledge the complex, multifaceted reality of vast political fields. The results contribute to accrediting the thesis according to which immigration has been securitised at the EU level, but nuances it by demonstrating a significant variation between the various subfields of the policy (e.g. asylum, legal immigration).