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Abstract

Unauthorized migrants, often referred to as ‘illegal aliens’ or ‘undocumented immigrants’, are a burning political issue in many countries. This paper examines the complexities of unauthorized migration and addresses competing viewpoints on the subject as it relates to the power of the state. Despite the popular image of unauthorized migration as secret border crossing, migrants become ‘illegal’ in various ways, and the boundary between ‘legal’ and ‘illegal’ is more fluid than it may appear to be. Unauthorized migration is conventionally understood as evidence of the limited power of the state over immigration. This view, however, too narrowly focuses on the power of the state over entries of migrants. If we broaden our perspective and examine its power over migrants’lives and the way in which they are integrated into society, unauthorized migration in fact reveals the strong power of the state, which has a capacity to deprive migrants of their rights.