By Nando Sigona
Over the last decade, Western governments have increasingly used enforced removals, assisted voluntary returns and denials of entry in the country as instruments for governing unauthorised immigration. The number of immigrants removed from the US with one of these tools has gone from 120,000 in 2001 to 395,000 in 2011. The capacity to enforce removals has been raised to the status of an indicator of the state’s capacity to protect its citizens. Sarkozy’s high profile campaign that led to the expulsion of thousands of Romanian Roma from France in 2010 is exemplar of the use of removal figures for gaining political capital. In the UK, between 2001 and 2011 the number of forced and assisted removals spiralled from 17,000 to 42,000.
However, a closer look to figures reveals that, despite what scholars termed the ‘deportation turn’, the stock of irregular immigrants in these countries does not seem…
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