Policing Undocumented Migrants: Law, Violence and Responsibility, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Policing Undocumented Migrants

Law, Violence and Responsibility, 1st Edition

By Louise Boon-Kuo


220 pages

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Hardback: 9781472435019
pub: 2017-08-07
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Migration policing experiments such as boat turn-backs and offshore refugee processing have been criticised as unlawful and have been characterised as exceptional. Policing Undocumented Migrants explores the extraordinarily routine, powerful, and above all lawful practices engaged in policing status within state territory. This book reveals how the everyday violence of migration law is activated by making people ‘illegal’. It explains how undocumented migrants are marginalised through the broad discretion underpinning existing frameworks of legal responsibility for migration policing.

Drawing on interviews with people with lived experience of undocumented status within Australia, perspectives from advocates, detailed analysis of legislation, case law and policy, this book provides an in-depth account of the experiences and legal regulation of undocumented migrants within Australia. Case studies of street policing, immigration raids, transitions in legal status such as release from immigration detention, and character based visa determination challenge conventional binaries in migration analysis between the citizen and non-citizen and between lawful and unlawful status. By showing the organised and central role of discretionary legal authority in policing status, this book proposes a new perspective through which responsibility for migration legal practices can be better understood and evaluated.

Policing Undocumented Migrants will be of interest to scholars and practitioners working in the areas of criminology, criminal law, immigration law and border studies.

Table of Contents


List of abbreviations

Introduction: migrant illegality in legal records

1 Borders of responsibility

2 ‘You’re just kidnapped’: immigration ‘arrests’ and detention

3 Raids, searches and rapid removals

4 ‘Mums’, ‘mafia’ and ‘ransom money’: release from immigration detention

5 Profiling bad character

Conclusion: ‘the umbrella of legality’



About the Author

Louise Boon-Kuo is a Lecturer at the University of Sydney Law School. Louise researches in the areas of border policing, race and criminal justice.

About the Series

International and Comparative Criminal Justice

International and Comparative Criminal Justice
This series explores the new and rapidly developing field of international and comparative criminal justice and engages with its most important emerging themes and debates. It focuses on three interrelated aspects of scholarship which go to the root of understanding the nature and significance of international criminal justice in the broader context of globalization and global governance. These include: the theoretical and methodological problems posed by the development of international and comparative criminal justice; comparative contextual analysis; the reciprocal relationship between comparative and international criminal justice and contributions which endeavor to build understandings of global justice on foundations of comparative contextual analysis.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LAW / General
LAW / Criminal Law / General