Illegality Regimes and the Ongoing Transformation of Contemporary Citizenship

J.M. Amaya Castro

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This article introduces the notion of ‘illegality regimes’ and argues that the creation, enhancement, and strengthening of these regimes has a transformative, and perhaps even corrosive effect on the meaning and value of citizenship itself. The notion of illegality regimes refers to the complex normative and policy framework that is either intended to, or otherwise has the effect of marginalizing or otherwise excluding irregular migrants, and to assist the authorities in the process of localizing and deporting them. Much of the political and scholarly attention in the context of illegality is focused on how illegality regimes affect migrants and refugees, how these regimes weaken their human rights, and generally run contrary to liberal principles such as equality before the law and non-discrimination. However, the objective here is to explore how it is not just the undocumented migrant that is directly or indirectly affected by the illegality regimes, but also regular migrants, asylum seekers, and finally full citizens themselves. The ways in which this happens is by a progressive transformation of what it means to be a citizen, and by means of a re-accommodation of the relation between the citizen and the state. As globalization unleashes migratory processes, the state adapts. Citizenship adapts along.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-161
JournalEuropean Journal of Legal Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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