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The fallacy of securitizing migration : elite rationality and unintended consequences

Karyotis, Georgios (2011) The fallacy of securitizing migration : elite rationality and unintended consequences. In: Security, Insecurity and Migration in Europe. Ashgate, Farnham, pp. 13-30. ISBN 9781409409205

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It has become commonplace to argue that migration is intimately linked to questions of security. Typically, the literature on the securitisation of migration approaches it as a ‘top-down’ process, where various political, societal and security elites present migration as an existential threat to fundamental values of society and/or the state. The implication is that the elites’ decision to securitise is a rational one, often aimed, among others, at promoting their own political legitimacy, attracting resources and legitimising exceptional responses. The aim of this chapter is to question the rationality of elite action by highlighting the unintended consequences and hidden costs associated with securitisation. The chapter distances itself from normative calls for the desecuritisation of migration, as those, for instance, made by advocates of a human security approach. Instead, it offers a pragmatic account of how securitisation serves only short-term needs, while harming in the long-term other interests, including of those that supported the security discourse in the first place. The chapter investigates the fallacy of securitising migration, revealing that as a policy option it is more costly than often assumed.