Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

This paper explores the legislated, tactical, and discursive means by which asylum seekers and criminals have been cast analogously as both figures of putative threat and beings undeserving of the rights of citizenship over the past decade in the United States. It argues that one cannot fully understand the politics of asylum and unauthorized migration in the US without an analysis of the overwhelmingly penal and criminalizing mechanisms by which such politics are practiced. By critically assessing these mechanisms within asylum management technologies, it finds that contemporary immigration and asylum measures serve a variety of political and social functions domestically, distinct from the goal of restricting entry. These alternative functions include bolstering state legitimacy, facilitating the regulation and exploitation of labour, and containing social and political unrest.

More information


Working paper


Refugee Studies Centre

Publication Date




Total pages