A game of risk: Boat migration and the business of bordering Europe (Respond to this article at http://www.therai.org.uk/at/debate)



Largely in response to irregular migration flows, a Euro-African border is under construction at the southern edges of Europe. The latest phase in this ‘borderwork’ is a system known as Eurosur, underpinned by a vision of a streamlined surveillance cover of Europe's southern maritime border and the African ‘pre-frontier’ beyond it. Eurosur and other policing initiatives pull in a range of sectors – from border guards to aid workers – that make the statistically small figure of the irregular border crosser their joint target. To highlight the economic and productive aspects of controlling migratory flows, I call this varied group of interests an ‘illegality industry’. Casting an eye on the Spanish section of the external EU border, this article investigates how the illegality industry conceptualizes migrants as a source of risk to be managed, visualized and controlled. The end result, it is argued, is a ‘double securitization’ of migrant flows, rendering these as both a security threat and a growing source of profits.