Securitisation of Migrant Integration 
Lessons from the US and UK

Introduction to somi

The globalization of migratory flows has created a profound problem of governance for national governments seeking to integrate new populations. They have pursued a series of policies that collectively amount to the securitisation of immigration and integration. These policies largely consist of a wide array of measures ranging from restrictive border controls to neo-assimilationist policies of integration, that all construe immigrants and their descendants as potential threats to safety, social cohesion or national identity. These policies have most often elicited negative reactions among migrant organisations and networks. This raises crucial questions for both the scientific and policy communities on the effects of securitisation on migrants and minorities’ patterns of organization and political mobilization: what are the levels of acceptance of these policies, and to what extent have they fostered alienation and resentment, fostering various types of protest and possibly even violent protest?

SoMI addresses these questions by focusing on the security governance of immigration and integration This perspective includes the complex feedback effects between, on one side, government discourses and policies on both immigration and integration, and, on the other, the reception of, and reaction to, these discourses and policies by both the targeted groups. The policy areas under study include border control, asylum, police powers, terrorism prevention policies, social cohesion, local community partnerships – and the modes of reaction and collective mobilisation among the various migrant and minority populations affected by these policies.

SoMI’s researchers have selected relevant migrant populations in each country:  Muslims and Hispanics in the United-States, and Muslims  and asylum-seekers in the United Kingdom. the objective is to  analyse the mobilization (or lack of) of migrant and minority organizations, as well as their influence in the policy-making processes and government strategies. This necessitates a systematic and critical evaluation of the organizations and networks of these populations, focusing on (a) their perception of the securitization of immigration and integration; (b) their collective identities and modes of belonging (perception of national identity, racialisation, religious identities): (c) the nature, level and scope  of the resulting mobilizations (across a spectrum stretching from indifference to integration through pressure group politics or protest, and in some cases on to violent protest) and (d) and the feedback effects of these various forms of migrant behavior have on policies.

Drawing from an earlier project, the Immigration-Security-Integration network (ISI), SoMI brings together an international team of specialists with two interrelated objectives in mind: (a) produce rigorous comparative field research and analysis, and (b) produce expertise for policy stakeholders, both governmental and non-governmental, on the lessons –positive or negative, or mixed- to be drawn from the American and British experiences. The interaction of scholars from American, British and French backgrounds will make it possible to develop a truly comparative perspective and to draw valuable policy conclusions for European (particularly French), American and British stakeholders.