The recent tragic loss of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean is just the tip of the iceberg. Thousands die each year attempting to enter Europe via destinations like the Italian island of Lampedusa and the Spanish enclaves of Melilla and Ceuta.
But stricter border controls, far from acting as a deterrent, may actually be increasing the number of migrants from making these perilous journeys.
Dr Ruben Andersson (right), a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Civil Society and Human Security Research Unit, has won the British Sociological Association / BBC Thinking Allowed (Radio 4) ethnography award for his book Illegality, Inc. Clandestine Migration and the Business of Bordering Europe.
Ruben’s thought-provoking book argues that increasing border controls are leading migrants to seek more dangerous routes to enter Europe.
Based on his PhD dissertation, which was awarded the 2014 IMISCOE dissertation award, the book features several hundred interviews with migrants, non-governmental organisations and international officials, border guards, charity workers, activists and smugglers.
He argues that the industries set up to control migration actually drive migrants to take greater risks along more dangerous routes. As more and more money is spent in an attempt to regulate movement, these industries only create more covert smuggling and illegal behaviour.
The shortlist for the award was announced in last week’s Thinking Allowed. One of the judges described Ruben’s work as “a very beautifully written, very evocative book”. The programme then ran a special feature on the book as the winner was announced during this week’s episode on Wednesday 22 April.