On the Increasingly Complex Relationship between Immigration Policy and (Inter)national Security

Ariane Chebel d’Appollonia, Simon Reich, eds.  Immigration, Integration, and Security: America and Europe in Comparative Perspective.   The Security Continuum: Global Politics in the Modern Age.  Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2008.  xi + 480 pp.  $65.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-8229-4344-0; $27.95 (paper), ISBN 978-0-8229-5984-7.

Migration and security have always been linked, but, as Ariane Chebel d’Appollonia and Simon Reich argue in their editorial introduction to this volume, recent terrorist attacks in the United States and Europe have led to an increased awareness of the complex connections between immigration, integration policies, and national security.  The result of this increasing securitization of immigration is central to understanding the challenges facing in the United States, individual European countries, and the European Union in the twenty-first century.  These challenges include the vanishing line between border security and internal security, policies that support immigrant integration and multiculturalism, urban issues like housing and unemployment, and demands for political liberties and civil justice.  While none of these challenges are unfamiliar on either side of the Atlantic, the editors argue that they have grown in importance over the past seven years.  In particular, they justify their focus on jihadist terrorism by arguing that it represents an entirely new set of threats to be understood and countered, including the existence of significant Muslim populations in both Europe and the United States, many of whom remain economically and politically excluded from the wider society.  This state of affairs, coupled with the globally dispersed nature of terrorist organizations and their history of recruiting among disaffected migrant communities (made clear in the 2005 attacks in London), has led to new demands on both internal and external security, as well as threats to ethnic and religious tolerance brought on by fears of a potential “enemy inside” (p. 2).

The volume represents a collaboration between scholars working at the Institut d’Études Politiques (IEP) and the University of Pittsburgh, which each put forward one editor and several contributors.  The rest of the contributors come from other universities and research institutes in Spain, Germany, Britain, and the United States.  Scholars who study migration, multiculturalism, religion, contemporary politics, or terrorism will find several of the articles particularly interesting.  A few articles do touch on German issues via a comparative approach: Michael Minkenberg on religious observance and influence in western Europe and North America, Chebel d’Appollonia on immigration as a security issue across the European Union, Martin Schain on counterterrorism, and Jonathan Laurence on the relationships between Muslim groups (in Germany, the Deutsche Islam Konferenz [DIK]) and several western European states.  Beyond these four, many of the other articles in the volume may point the way toward new approaches and new methods of analysis; these would be of interest to any scholar who studies the confluence of immigration and security.

The fourteen essays included in this volume are bookended by introductory and concluding chapters by the editors in which they lay out their arguments on the connections between immigration and security and pose three questions to the contributors.  Some address the historical basis of the current situation, challenging the view that September 11 represented a clear break with past approaches to migration and security.  Others look at the ways in which recent developments have led to new security challenges, not least of which is actually finding a concrete “enemy” to oppose.  In Europe, at least, many have realized that these threats are simultaneously domestic and transnational, as opposed to the dominant American view that terrorism can only be confronted overseas.  A third group addresses the ramifications of the “securitization of immigration policy” (p. 3), in particular the tensions between maintaining public safety and protecting the civil and human rights of immigrants and minorities.

The second and third chapters, by Ilya Prizel and Minkenberg, take a longer-term view of current challenges and issues, focusing on how perceptions of identities have shifted over the past several decades.  Prizel argues that the post-September 11 era has seen the culmination of a significant restructuring of past religious, ethnic, and political divisions.  A resurgence of identity discourse in forms that may seem unfamiliar to those schooled in the identity-based politics of past decades has been the result.  Prizel notes that these changes arise out of the confluence of internal conflicts in the Islamic world, especially between populist Shia movements and Sunni attempts to restore the caliphate; the newly-found global messianism of American evangelicalism (and, increasingly, conservative Catholicism as well); and the end of communism as a viable and internationally supported form of government.  The impact on contemporary migration has been undeniable, and the resulting tensions within immigrant groups, between immigrant groups, and between immigrant groups and host communities, have contributed to the challenges outlined by the editors.  Looking at the United States, Prizel argues that the American response to immigration has been far more coherent and stable (and much less xenophobic) than the European response, noting that, despite recent political battles over changes to U.S. immigration laws, true nativism has become a fringe sentiment.  Prizel thus discounts any talk of a unified “western” response to immigration issues.

Much like Prizel, Minkenberg focuses on the intersection of religion and migration and the significant differences between the United States and Europe.  His analysis challenges common perceptions of the role and legacy of organized religion in various host societies, in part by positing that no single, easily defined “Christian” or “western” response determines attitudes toward migration and religious minorities, even when the migrants tend to be from non-Christian groups.  Going beyond a monolithic “Christian” or even “denominational” understanding of religious legacies, Minkenberg argues that important factors in the relationship of religion and immigration policy include the status of church-state relations, official recognition of religion, the strength of secularism, and the power of religiously oriented political parties.  Such national religious legacies pose a major obstacle to transnational agreement, understanding, and cooperation, even within the European Union.  It is impossible here to reproduce the charts at the heart of Minkenberg’s analysis, but he does find a correlation between higher levels of cultural integration and more open immigration policies, while finding less correlation between denominational presence, religious partisanship, types of democracy (majoritarian, consensus) and the recognition of group religious rights.  However, Minkenberg concludes that established cultural and religious legacies continue to influence how societies respond to and accommodate non-Christian immigrant groups.

Following the contributions of Prizel and Minkenberg, articles by Didier Bigo, Jolyon Howorth, and Schain engage with the issue of terrorism, its expressions in the United States and Europe, and its direct impact on migration policy and security.  Bigo writes on the “emerging consensus” among security professionals and scholars that internal and external security, long the separate concerns of police and armed forces, are becoming increasingly intertwined.  He argues that the seeming prevalence of terrorism and international organized crime since the 1990s has created a new class of “global security experts” who recommend “new solutions, a new balance between freedom and security . . . and a new acceptance of and submission to the providers of global security” (p. 68).  September 11 only reinforced this view, and had the added effect of realigning public discourse toward the needs of security.  In the area of migration, this consensus has led to the increasing securitization of immigration and the expanded surveillance of migrants, often on grounds of shared nationality or religion with past offenders.  Beyond this consensus, Bigo introduces two competing professional security discourses, those of the “classics” and the “moderns.”  Classics rely on the solutions to strife characteristic of nation-states throughout the last century: a military focus on external threats, a preference for secrecy, and a distrust of global solutions, while relegating internal security to lower-level police forces.  Moderns, however, favor viewing all threats as potentially dangerous, especially those created by migration or transnational influence, and generally believe that networks trump borders in the twenty-first century.  Neither group, however, focuses on the civil liberties side of the security continuum.  As Bigo concludes, despite these two competing security discourses, no counter-discourse exists in support of civil liberties.

Howorth also addresses the convergence of internal and external security in the area of counterterrorism, particularly in the context of the European Union.  He notes that cooperation between European governments was minimal until the attacks in Madrid and London, even as the EU-wide approach to terrorism diverged sharply from that seen in the United States.  Howorth argues that this divergence stems from differing opinions on whether jihadist terrorism is qualitatively different from older forms of terrorism, familiar to Europeans from decades of experience with separatist groups and political activists, along with the structural and strategic differences that follow from these earlier experiences.  In particular, Howorth identifies the European preference for “soft” approaches to counterterrorism evident in the initial response to September 11, including “intelligence sharing, judicial and police cooperation, and measures against terrorism financing” (p. 98), along with additional aid to countries in the developing world.  Only after Madrid and London did European governments seek to implement a more cooperative (and draconian) stance against terrorism, producing a slight convergence with the military approaches favored by the United States.

Like Howorth, Schain argues that the divergent approaches to terrorism in Europe and the United States can be traced to Europe’s experiences with forms of terrorism over the last four decades.  In Britain, for example, many of the laws that focus on terrorism were passed in the 1970s and intended to combat the Irish Republican Army, while in France, terrorism policy has changed little since the 1980s.  Schain argues that both examples reflect the European tendency to combat terrorism through legislation and the curtailment of civil liberties, and that the events of 2001 were not a watershed moment.  Compared to Europe, the United States lacked a historic terrorist threat and terrorism policy was only developed in the 1990s at the level of executive policy, rather than through legislation.  In the post-2001 era, American policy has developed in a dialogue between the executive branch and the courts, with minimal legislative input.  Schain continues by comparing the effect of these divergent strategies on various countries’ approaches to immigration policy and public attitudes toward immigrants, making the (perhaps) provocative argument that in all three countries, “the tendency since 2001 has been toward immigration expansion rather than exclusion” (p. 124).  He cites several recent public opinion surveys that support this contention.

H. Richard Friman, Jennifer Chacón, Elena Baylis, and Anil Kalhan also point out, in separate articles, that the securitization of immigration, at least in the United States, is much older than the current focus on terrorism.  Friman’s central contention is that immigration has been considered a primary threat to national security for decades.  However, the securitization of immigration has increased dramatically since the 1980s, when it was used to help control the illicit drug trade, and has accelerated in the wake of terrorist attacks.  The complex and somewhat ambiguous understanding of the term “immigration” in the United States complicates this picture, for American migration enforcement makes few distinctions between foreign terrorists, criminal aliens, and undocumented immigrants.  Even so, border security is not aided by such a wide-ranging approach.  Instead, Friman argues that the increased securitization of immigration policy has instead led to greater exclusion of legitimate immigrants, higher levels of interior migration enforcement, erosion of immigrants’ rights, and increasing distrust of authorities by immigrant communities.

Chacón also notes the effect of increasing securitization of migration on immigrant communities, focusing on the post-September 11 period, in which she finds a dramatic expansion of immigration enforcement.  As terrorism became a primary focus of American politicians, immigration laws were adapted to help identify potential terrorists, and the existing U.S. immigration bureaucracy was drawn into the newly established Department of Homeland Security, to be used as a subsidiary of the criminal justice system.  Chacón points out that the conflation of immigration with the needs of crime control and national security has the potential to create a two-tiered justice system, in which the thirty million (or more) foreign-born U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and other immigrants can potentially be deprived of individual rights and civil liberties.

Baylis writes with a specific focus on the granting of political asylum, another area of immigration with a significant history in the United States.  She argues that, while international norms for granting asylum have long been concerned with the convergence of international, national, and human security, changes made to asylum policy in the United States since 2001 have instead focused on defense and exclusion.  These changes include the transfer of asylum-granting control to the Department of Homeland Security and several re-definitions of “terrorist activity” and “terrorist organization” that work primarily to exclude the majority of asylum-seekers from countries with even minimal terrorist presence.  Baylis notes that these changes contradict nearly sixty years of established policy in the United States and Europe as well as international legal obligations for refugee relief.  Her views on U.S.-EU convergence are that the U.S. response is conditioned primarily by concerns for terrorism and the EU response is conditioned by perceptions of migration and the threat to European social and cultural security.

While Friman, Chacón, and Baylis focus primarily on the U.S. federal government’s immigration policies, Kalhan looks at the expanding role of state and local governments in immigration enforcement, particularly since the mid-1990s.  As Kalhan points out, non-federal authorities had few responsibilities for immigration enforcement for most of the twentieth century and lacked the authority to enforce federal immigration laws.  Over the past few years, however, the federal government has begun to enlist state and local police to help enforce federal immigration statutes, and has tried to impose federal guidelines on state issuance of identification cards and driver’s licenses.  Some states and municipalities have embraced the new regulatory responsibilities, but many others have expressed concern at apparent federal interference in state and local affairs.  Kalhan argues that this ongoing evolution of federalism has the potential to create new sub-federal/sub-national forms of citizenship and immigration policy.  Even though his analysis is based on the U.S. federal model (with its relatively powerful states and multi-tiered local government), his study may provide a basis for understanding the development of federal systems in Europe.

Often, concern for immigration and integration in contemporary Europe can be linked to anxiety over the presence of Muslim minorities.  The second half of the volume contains several articles that address the various issues surrounding the growing Muslim communities in many European countries.  Chebel d’Appollonia, Laurence, Francisco Javier Moreno Fuentes, Sylvain Brouard, Vincent Tiberj, and Manlio Cinalli provide several approaches to analyzing the impact of security policy on Muslim immigration and integration, as well as public attitudes toward minorities.

Chebel d’Appolonia contributes an article focusing on the public ambivalence toward immigration and integration in contemporary Europe.  She points out three familiar paradoxes: that Europeans generally want to reduce immigration, even though continued immigration is the only way to maintain their social welfare systems; that over the past three decades European states that have committed to stabilizing resident immigrant populations have allowed family reunification, which increases immigrant numbers and provides an incentive to stay in Europe; and that European states have become so concerned with the process of immigration that they have neglected to consider the ramifications of maintaining large minority populations, including housing, education, and integration.  As a result, European governments have mistakenly sought to combat terrorism primarily though security measures, both external and internal, while failing to address — indeed, failing to admit — the much more pressing needs of dealing with their minority populations.  Consequently, as Chebel d’Appollonia argues, “more security creates more insecurity” and “more security leads to fewer civil liberties” (p. 204).  The domestic aspect of terrorism is overlooked, and increased securitization of immigration has actually limited minorities’ abilities to pursue integration.  The author does note that some European governments are beginning to realize that their past approaches have been problematic, but the gap between this realization and continued policy shows few signs of lessening.

Laurence argues that western European states — thought to be on the wane in an age of post-nationalism and globalization — are still the leading influence for the integration of minority communities.  He is critical of the widespread view that dialogue and integration between largely secular societies and increasingly vocal Muslim minorities is nearly impossible, as well as the optimistic contention that, given more contact between the two sides, a Europeanized version of Islam, divorced from conservative influences, is likely to prevail.  Both of these views discount the power of European states to structure group-state relationships in beneficial ways.  Taking a more moderate view, Laurence finds that European states have accomplished a great deal in organizing institutional relationships with Muslim religious communities, and that they still play a major role in supporting the sociopolitical integration of Muslims through incorporating Muslim communities into already-existing systems of church-state relationships.  He cites the relatively peaceful disputes over the Danish cartoon controversy in 2006 in those countries where Muslims enjoyed a certain level of institutional representation.

Similarly, Brouard and Tiberj, writing on the integration of Muslim minorities in France, also identify an increasing tendency to view immigration as a leading threat to French society (and European civilization).  Prior to September 11 and the ensuing reelection of Jacques Chirac, concerns over immigration were mostly limited to extremist parties like the Front National, while in subsequent years, the future of cultural and ethnic diversity has become a leading issue across the political spectrum.  Brouard and Tiberj analyze the results of two public opinion surveys focusing on migrant integration, sponsored by the Centre d’Étude pour la Vie Politique Française and conducted in spring 2005, one composed of respondents who emigrated from Africa and Turkey and a second, control survey, composed of a representative sample of the French electorate.  The authors find that the two samples differed most on who was responsible for advancing integration.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, immigrants tended to believe that French society was primarily responsible for a lack of integration, while the representative sample tended to believe that integration was the responsibility of the immigrants.  They note that these results seemed to correspond with respondents’ views on Islam: those with negative views on the religion tended to hold immigrants responsible for their own integration, while those with positive views saw French society as the problem.

This evidence leads Brouard and Tiberj to propose that the French electorate is divided into three distinct groups, each with its own views on integration.  Assimilationists, who believe that it is immigrants’ responsibility to assimilate with French society, that they should be given no special treatment, and that immigrants should participate in the common French culture, make up a bit less than half of the sample.  Members of the second group, republicans, tend to have similar views on special treatment and cultural participation, but generally blame French society for its failure to help integrate the immigrants and have less negative views on immigration and Islam.  This group constitutes around a third of the sample.  The final and smallest group is the multiculturalists, who, like the republicans, have a positive view of Islam and tend to blame French society for lacking integration.  However, they also support state intervention to preserve cultural diversity, and significant proportions favor public funding for immigrant-majority public schools and housing as well as mosques.  Overall, they view the presence of immigrants as beneficial to France.  However, multiculturalists make up less than 10 percent of the French electorate.  In their survey of immigrants, Brouard and Tiberj find that many are more likely to identify with France than with their country of origin, and tend to identify more with those of similar social background and generation rather than with a particular ethnic or religious community.  As the authors argue, a significant majority in France believes that past integration policies have failed, even as surveys indicate the opposite; such discrepancies have contributed to the tension over immigration, integration, and assimilation.

Perhaps no European countries better illustrate the changing nature of immigration policy and border controls than Mediterranean states like Spain and Italy.  Until the past two decades or so, both of these countries were considered to be sources of migrants to northern and western Europe.  However, the political realities of the Schengen era and the increasing affluence of southern Europe have placed Spain and Italy along with Portugal and Greece on the front line of EU border controls.

Moreno Fuentes and Cinalli both bring distinctive approaches to research in this area.  Moreno Fuentes writes on how Spain achieved its transition: once a source of migrants to northern Europe, it has become a transit point and destination for migrants from Africa (in particular, through the enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla on the North African coast).  He argues that before these developments, Spain primarily followed the EU lead on restrictive immigration policy, while recent years have seen greater tension between external influences and the growing need for more comprehensive (and less restrictive) policies regarding both entry and integration.  Moreno Fuentes also finds that public perceptions of Muslim immigrant communities have been affected by growing levels of xenophobia, a process that began even before the bombings of March 11, 2004.  He makes several suggestions for the continued development of Spanish immigration policies, including the creation of an immigration “buffer area” in Morocco and increased support for the integration of North African migrants.

The final article in the volume, by Cinalli, is a comparative study of pro-immigrant activism in Britain — relatively speaking, an inclusive and multicultural state — and Italy, which, like Spain, is still adapting to its new status as a destination for non-European immigrants.  Cinalli maps out the relationships between pro-immigrant activist groups, including NGOs, charities, and other independent movements, and immigrants themselves, many of who fall into the gray area between asylum-seeking and economic migration.  Although debates over border control, asylum seekers, and undocumented immigrants are among the most contentious issues in both countries, British activist organizations tend to have broader and more extensive networks with other advocacy groups, while those in Italy have much less influence.  Cinalli suggests that the current drive toward a general EU policy on asylum and refugee issues is likely to lead to a greater role for supranational institutions and groups, though developments will depend on the support of individual European states for continued migrant advocacy.

In conclusion, the volume offers a good introduction to the most current research on the intersection of immigration policy and security on both sides of the Atlantic.  This matter is clearly a major issue for both Europe and North America, and these articles provide a number of different approaches to understanding immigration, assimilation, integration, and (inter)national security.  However, the nature of such works is that they often have a short shelf life; given rapid changes in policy and public discourse, some articles may not age well.  Regardless, many of them have the potential to influence continuing and future research projects.  For that, this book is a good investment.

Eric H. Limbach, Department of History, Michigan State University.  This review was first published by H-German (July 2009) under a Creative Commons license.