Securing the Border: The Everyday Policing and Surveillance of Mobile Populations

Working Paper: Please do not cite without the permission of the author Author Dr. Bethan Loftus Simon Fellow ManReg: the Manchester Centre for Regulation, Governance and Security School of Law University of Manchester United Kingdom MP13 9PL Email: bethan.loftus@manchester.ac.uk Telephone: 0161 275 3591 Abstract Throughout the world, resources are being shifted towards border enforcement. Along with the concerted political and financial investment afforded by states into defending territories, the apparatus of border policing comprises numerous state agencies and an ever expanding range of private actors and commercial bodies. Yet the impact of such developments on those responsible for the routine preservation of border priorities has garnered little attention within the sociology of policing. In this article I foreground an agenda intended to extend current research and reflection on the everyday policing and surveillance of borders. I argue that the policing of borders is undergoing significant changes, but without the accompanying scrutiny by policing scholars. In order to demonstrate the increasingly intensive character of border policing I draw upon examples from the United States and Europe, and provide an empirical framework that could guide future work in this area. My overarching claim is that as policing and security governance on the border becomes more innovative and pluralistic, policing scholars need to track how security frameworks are realised at the local level and acted out against national environments. In so doing, policing scholarship can both lead the way in developing a more holistic understanding of border practices and redress the acute social injustice experienced by those at the receiving end of contemporary border regimes. Key Words Borders; sociology of policing; surveillance; nodal governance Introduction Although borders define geographic boundaries of political entities and legal jurisdictions, they are also ways of dividing the world - and people. Above all, borders are characterised by their communicative function, signifying state control over territory and mobility. It has long been recognised that the police lie at the heart of the functioning of the state. The practice of policing can therefore be described as politics at a distance (Van Maanen 1978; Manning 1994). Yet, the work the police do is an increasingly global enterprise and is of considerable theoretical complexity insofar as it involves mapping the complex networks of public and private actors that operate on and across national borders (Johnston 2000; Goldsmith and Sheptycki 2007). Although this represents a sea change in the way policing and security is now carried out worldwide, we still know very little about one key chapter in the policing story – the everyday enforcement and surveillance of borders. While discussions of the border as a site for exclusion
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I then go on to offer an empirical framework that could guide future work in this area. Likewise. Pickering 2004. international relations and geography (Tsianos and Karakayali 2010. and the challenges that need to be overcome. the political and financial investment afforded by states into defending territories demonstrates that a process of intensification is taking place. undocumented immigration has been intimately linked to all ‘things’ undesirable. I suggest. Frequently. I set out what a more comprehensive sociology of border policing agenda could look like. While a discrete body of literature has begun to answer this appeal (Zureik and Salter 2005. The politics of border enforcement has received much attention and has focused on the way arbitrary laws and policies are heightening the inequitable treatment of immigrants. Villa 2003. including the police. Pickering and Weber 2006). Wilson and Donnan 1998. as well as their geographical location. My aim in this article is to foreground an agenda which extends current research and reflection on the policing of borders. Aas 2011). The significance of understanding policing and security governance on the border lies in its capacity to operate outside of equitable frameworks that promote social justice. Thus. In particular. we are witnessing a diversification of border enforcement which mobilises a range of state enforcement agencies. can shift dramatically over time and space. the increasingly expansive policing and surveillance apparatus integral to enforcement betrays a deepening of contemporary border control. immigration and customs. Important theoretical and empirical work has focused on those who make the passage into a nation state (Van Duyan and Spencer 2011. I begin the article by exploring the increasingly defensive character of borders. Within such discourses. the topic of borders has only recently emerged as an area of interest as scholars point to new forms of control that are associated with the states of late modernity. One notable exception is the important article by Weber and Bowling (2006: 195) in which they argue that ‘the policing of global population movements is an example of an emerging punitive regulatory system that demands urgent attention’. Elden forthcoming). I pose the argument that the policing of borders is undergoing significant changes. Spencer et al 2012). in a nodal and fluid policing landscape. borders are a tool of exclusion and reveal sovereign attempts to impose control over who is admitted to the polity (Andreas 2003). It is hardly unsurprising that immigration has become associated with questions of national security. there remains a pressing need for theoretical and empirical examination of the mentalities and practices of those working at the coalface of border enforcement. In criminology. and a whole host of undesirable ‘others’. to labour exploitation and environmental degradation.has undoubtedly brought to light aspects of the operation of border 2 . Second. there remains scant understanding of how the prevailing political culture interacts with social control to shape the nature of policing arrangements at the border. refugees. Reiner 2007). economic and ethnic divisions (Balibar 2010). before drawing upon illustrations from the United States and Europe. as well as an ever expanding range of private actors and commercial bodies. Spener and Staudt 1998. although much has been written about how the punitive stance towards crime-control finds its expression directly through the institutions of policing (Garland 2001. Wood 2001. ranging from crime and disease. military. Attending to the narratives and experiences of those crossing borders – either voluntarily or involuntarily . borders are the meeting place between the rich and poor and have the potential to perpetuate social. Finally. Weber and Bowling 2004. A prominent theme is how the creation of immigration laws have marched hand-inhand with criminal justice discourse (Bosworth 2008. their enforcement has received less attention within the sociology of policing. The Field of Border Enforcement State boundaries constitute a major topic within the traditions of political science. What emerges from this literature is that the meaning and significance of state borders. Gerard and Pickering 2012. The transformation of contemporary borders. is apparent in three main ways. anthropology.have a long history across the social science spectrum. but without the accompanying scrutiny by policing scholars. First.

what does remain clear is that if crime fighting continues to define the border priorities of many states. as I argue below. there seems to be a peculiar tension at work. whilst at the same time retaining scepticism and regulation. In particular.enforcement. surveillance is used to conveniently speed up the process for those travellers who are deemed low risk. While borders are generally conceived as dividing spaces between states and political jurisdictions. Indeed. Economic imperatives to facilitate the movements of goods and capital are at odds with the desire of many states to restrict the movements of people across their borders. While current discourses emphasise drugs smuggling. In this way. the appearance of their exclusionary practices has varied. There has. Indeed. been no shortage of testimony to the technologies of social screening designed to police the mobility of those social elements deemed to belong to suspect social categories (Lyon 2003. even home citizens are subject to processes of social sorting. Along with an expansion in the numbers of officials employed to enforce borders. Aas 2011). scholarship would be much enriched by examining the stories. there has been immense employment of bureaucratic and technological machinery. Aas 2006. but increasingly represented by other zones of enforcement – ranging from seaports and airports to docklands and airspace. goods and flow of information across borders. the freedom of such groups can be restricted because of their alleged criminal status – for instance. those very people responsible for preserving border priorities. contemporary border control is less about state personnel guarding a materialised line in the ground and more about the deployment of an expansive policing and surveillance apparatus that reaches beyond physical borderlines. There is little doubt that the policing and surveillance of borders has taken on increased salience in recent years. In exploring border control. Thus. 2001. we are reminded that global mobility continues to be a scarce resource for a substantial section of the population (Bauman 2001). So while states have always been in the business of territorial exclusion. have only aggravated the contradictory impulses of states to loosen the flow of movement of people and goods. revitalised concern with border control reflects an attempt by States to reinvent an image of the border as disciplined and symbolically reassert their territorial authority. Aas 2011). Paradoxically. for instance. human trafficking and terrorism. Here. the contemporary rationale of border control appears to be to deter risky individuals before they even have a chance to enter the national territory (Wilson and Weber 2003). As Andreas (2000) demonstrates. any person whose citizenship is somehow flawed or in question can be subject to the exclusionary practices of officials (Balibar 2010. Understanding this simultaneous loosening and tightening of the border requires some rethinking of the basic tenets of globalisation. globalisation can instead be understood in terms of processes of closure and containment. States have fundamentally changed the ways they police and monitor the passage of people. while a key marker used to differentiate between what Bauman (2001) succinctly calls the ‘tourists’ and the ‘vagabonds’ is citizenship. we can only expect 3 . she also shows that a key objective of surveillance systems is gate opening. This brings to attention the manner in which understandings of borders are becoming increasingly blurred. Zedner 2006. the global mobility regime is based upon a pervasive ‘paradigm of suspicion’ that conflates the perceived threats of immigration with crime and terrorism. For Shamir (2005: 197). The events of September 11. Pickering and Weber 2006). Aas (2011) argues that illegal migration is the main practical preoccupation of current border surveillance systems. perspectives and experiences of those who routinely enforce the border . and has subsequently produced a heightened policing and surveillance apparatus (see also Mathiesen 2004). While globalisation tends to be theorised in terms of social openness and fluidity.in other words. it is an irony that the expansion of border surveillance is both an expression of sovereignty and an icon of its erosion (Pellerin 2005. Yet. Bigo 2006. Although borders are assuming an increasingly mobile character (Pickering 2011). Frontier strategies are today often not restricted to physical borders. Yet. as previously identified football hooligans or political dissidents.

fear of job loss to immigrants and concerns about trafficking and terrorism are the driving forces behind the rising border tensions. Based on documentary analysis and interviews with senior police officers and public officials. we also have deficient knowledge of how developments in border policing have been realised and enacted on-the-ground. Andreas concludes that enforcement practices are less about preventing smuggling. a specialised – and controversial .-Mexico border remains the most enlightening. In this way. but that more attention has been focused on border enforcement due to changes in the social and economic context of the United States. Another related study is by Sheptycki (1998) who empirically examined the transnational formations of police agencies in the English Channel Tunnel regions. As a political scientist. but are instead intended to provide a stage for America and Mexico to reassert national identities by demonstrating the aptitude to protect borders. The study contributes enormously to our understanding of new forms of law enforcement for a ‘borderless’ Europe.in other words. However. the manner in which borders are controlled can have important ramifications for human rights (Fraser 2010). Since the 1995 study. national context within which border enforcement takes place. This is an excellent study that addresses key aspects of border policing. we have also seen the creation of Frontex. but it falls tantalisingly short on one important front. There has to date been little research into the practices and occupational mores of social control professionals responsible for the border. Earlier work includes the study by Anderson et al (1995). Yet our understanding of the multiple ways in which border policing is accomplished remains opaque. political. he did not spend time with officers working at the coalface of border policing . who else controls the border? Should the provision of border policing and security be intimately connected to political legitimacy and the democratic state? Each of these questions underlines the importance of examining the broader. While this gave new insights into the manner in which police institutions have become involved in activities which take their 4 . the study was conducted over fifteen years ago and accordingly reflects policing contexts of earlier and different times. which was the first examination of the system of European policing co-operation after the 1992 European Union treaty. police organisation.body tasked to coordinate the operational collaboration between Member States involved in border security. and legal context. The Local Life of Border Enforcement Of course. and the politics of immigration and civil liberties. A number of questions emerge which have significance for both scholarship and social justice. those very people tasked with enforcing and implementing key ideologies and legislation. The study by Andreas (2000) of the U. and how do they challenge that claim? What can the routine and extraordinary policing of borders tell us about the way states have reinvented themselves to internal and external audiences? In a nodal and fluid policing landscape. Although Andreas conducted interviews with state officials. law enforcement strategies. Moreover.S. including the harmonisation of criminal law and procedure. It also invites examination of the culture and practices of those involved in the daily upkeep of border priorities. In what ways do the impulses of the state to control borders shape the nature of policing on-the-ground? How does social unease about immigrants and other folk devils drive legislation and policy? To what extent are practices of border control shaped by the claims made by states to be liberal democracies. By conceiving European internal borders as permeable.to see more extensive policing of borderlands and global folk devils. Andreas maintains that the border is no more threatened now than in the past. Predictably. the authors address the major theoretical issues associated with the emerging pattern of collaboration. understanding border policing is not only a matter of exploring the social. Anderson and his colleagues underplay the importance of the continued strengthening of its external borders. I return to the issue of borders in Europe later on.

Loftus 2009). often taking advantage of opportunities for collaboration (Bigo 2001). state-led provision of policing and security has been displaced by a move toward a more polycentric. researchers have been able to document the everyday norms and values which guide routine decision making. network mode of governance. been raised about the desirability of a multiplicity of bodies in the provisions of security. border control is expanding and accruing and more resources and coercive powers. Key to this is also understanding the decentred nature of the new border policing regime. As scholars have explored changing manifestations of policing and social control. a discourse of violence. a discrete body of literature has begun to address questions about the policing of borders and the movement of people. Coupled with novel policing efforts. including hyper-masculinity. Recurring features of policing culture have been identified. Such bodies do not always work independently. and that such choices are shaped by the informal norms and values they hold. unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). an examination of border policing requires both localised study and wider contextualisation. they have too mapped the culture of private security officers. carry out tasks. who exactly defends the border? To answer this. Zedner 2006). It is also well known that the characteristics found in policing culture reflect and reproduce the nature of the social world in which it operates. By observing policing actors in naturally occurring situations. not least due to the problem of accessibility for all (Loader and Walker 2001. 1 5 . Many of the chapters provide case material from around the world. it does not focus on the day-to-day practices of officers. and arise as officers adapt to the demands of the police vocation. A debate has developed around the ways and extent to which the hierarchical. Neither does it place borders at the forefront of its analysis. For instance. These cultural mores are reinforced through informal socialisation processes. For its proponents. Reiner 2000a. including aggressiveness and stereotyping. In my view. including how officers learn the craft of their job.1 Of central relevance is that the changing composition and expansion of social control actors described within nodal governance is unfolding at the border. such as storytelling. this diversification of policing can be a means of promoting democracy and prioritising community participation (Marks and Wood 2010). video and audio surveillance. thereby offering a sound comparative angle. In other words. While these collections are a major step forward. however.occupational focus away from the terrain of the sovereign nation state. The sociology of policing has been characterised by a concern to expose the daily realities of operational police work through the adoption of qualitative methodologies. It is an empirical reality that state enforcement agencies combined with an ever expanding range of voluntary actors and commercial bodies are engaged in policing mobility. The concept of ‘police culture’ has subsequently become widely employed to understand the facets of police work. Of particular note are the edited collections by Zurei and Salter (2005) and Pickering and Weber (2006) which present an important collection of essays that focus on the many different aspects of policing and surveillance at physical and virtual borders. such as biometric sensors. notably ethnography (Reiner 2000b). land vehicles. More recently. we are still missing any sustained examination of the inner-world of border policing. Early findings suggest that the practices and mentalities of security officers can mirror those conducted by the public police (Rigakos 2002). It is telling that the absence of research on border police stands in stark contrast to the wealth of research on ordinary police officers. The concept of ‘nodal governance’ describes the condition in which policing and security are now delivered by a dispersed network of state and non-state actors (Shearing and Wood 2003). Questions have. covert missions. it is worth pausing for a moment to consider recent innovations in policing theory. One of the most interesting empirical discoveries is that officers can essentially choose which crimes and people to pay attention to. the reactive political and institutional orientation of policing can encourage a coercive working culture on-the-ground. then. solidarity and deviant working practices. engage in deviant practices and interact with their publics (Holdaway 1980.

6 . I would emphasise the following research questions. It is beyond the scope of this article to discuss in any great detail the long and strained relationship between the United States and Mexico (see Wood 2001). there are an estimated 250. thus routinely demonstrating cooperation in terms of trade relations.-Mexico border region and created the sense of an immigration crisis (ibid.S. Together.S. have been major causes of tension. and a broad geographic focus that not only includes the entire U. However. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) launched a highly effective public relations campaign warning of the dangers of unauthorised migration. It is unclear exactly when the U. In short. securitisation of the border has gained enormous currency within U. ethnographic studies have long provided a crucial insight into the hitherto closed world of social control professionals and this arguably offers a useful schema for understanding the culture of those working at the coalface of border policing. The U. The fortification of border enforcement and surveillance are essential elements in building novel policing bodies and transnational policing cooperation.000 illegal entries into the United States each year (ibid. It would bring the sociology of policing and criminology closer to the concerns of the broader social sciences by exploring border protection in a globalised world and as an expression of national sovereignty.S. border enforcement has rapidly evolved from a lowtechnology. Since the 1970s. Within this.In short. Border Realities By their very nature. It is telling that the absence for more than a century of strong physical barriers along the boundary reflects how immigration and boundary enforcement were largely non-issues. to a far more encompassing concept. located in urbanised areas and often in a state of disrepair and easily penetrable (Andreas 2000). Almost 12 million people live in the borderlands. the extensive use of technologies. spanning markedly different social. borders are divisive and can powerfully perpetuate social divisions. these developments helped to bring unprecedented attention to the U.). and it is estimated that in excess of 250 million people cross the border each year (Spener and Staudt 1998). but also transit states and countries of origin. As Marez (2004) describes. while the two countries have close economic ties. in the context of a highly politicised ‘war’ on crime and drugs. The events of 9/11 have only intensified the focus on U. Above all.969 miles with 42 points for crossing.S. one-agency exercise. these efforts have helped to establish the boundary as an ideological line of protection from external threats. by way of illustration I shall now focus on a small number of the more notorious frontiers. Mexico was identified as the primary source of illicit commodities. It now includes multiple actors. At the same time. economic and political contexts. illegal immigration and trading in illegal commodities.S. and has consistently been in the billions of dollars during the Clinton and Bush administrations (Arnold 2011).S. but through most of the 20th century they were few and far between. the U. With a view to examining the local life of border enforcement.-Mexico divide is the second most frequently crossed border in the world. Although we can locate many borders throughout the world which exude the themes discussed here. It has a total length of 1. What events and people arouse suspicion on the border? How do border officers use their discretion and the tools available to them? What are their dispositions towards different enforcement styles and kinds of mobility? In what ways is the behaviour of those actors involved in border policing towards the public shaped by new anxieties and threats in the security landscape? A study that addresses these questions would be a timely examination of the contemporary realities involved in the policing of borders and surveillance of mobile populations. political discourse and practice. federal funding for border enforcement increased dramatically. border and coastline.). such as drugs and firearms. however. Within this context.-Mexico border security and have led to a host of plans aimed at enhancing the enforcement apparatus.S. government first began constructing barriers along the boundary.

paramilitary-type clothing and other equipment to observe the movements of perceived immigrants.000 Border Patrol Agents (Arnold 2011). Border Guardians and the Minuteman Project. practices of intelligence gathering and sharing are integral to the current border surveillance systems (Anderson and Gerber 2008).000 migrant corpses recovered in the borderlands since 1995 (Gurette and Clark 2005).S.S. it may well enjoy a measure of popular legitimacy with elements of the broader public. the use of helicopters with thermal and infrared cameras. 7 . Ranch Rescue. incidences of organised civilians engaging in the unauthorised patrolling of U. the ‘services’ extend beyond foot patrols.S. The latter frequently complain that the vigilantes frustrate efforts by leaving footprints in the ground that could potentially belong to a person trying to cross illegally. federal government. Government spending on securing the border has exponentially increased. borders have proliferated in recent years. In the case of the highly organised Minuteman Project. while the Clinton administration spent almost $200 million on border technologies and personnel. canine ‘detector dogs’ and plain-clothed and undercover agents.-Mexico Border Bill’.S. arguably. Civil Homeland Defence. As Doty (2007) demonstrates. unregulated and uncontrolled.S. there have been various guises of civilian patrols over the decades. borderlands.S. Members use sophisticated motion sensors. spotlights and night-vision equipment. the U.2 These plans for more and taller fences represent only a small portion of the hundreds of miles of barricades and security technologies that increasingly scar the borderlands. In contrast to the relatively low key U.S. as evidenced by the near 5. The growing policing apparatus has not only rendered the line far more difficult to cross. radar. it is worth emphasising 2 BBC News (14/08/10) ‘Obama signs $600 million U. and have expressed concerns about the discourses of violence proposed by the groups (Schleicher 2005). For instance. Customs and Border Protection have more armed law enforcement officers than any other agency in the U. On that basis.S.200 agents are primarily responsible for immigration and border law enforcement as codified in the Immigration and Nationality Act 1952. According to members of these groups. The problem. and they can be a foreboding presence.S. At least at the level of rhetoric. The more prominent of these groups include Klu Klux Klan Border Watch. as she argues. the phenomenon civilians converging to patrol the border must also be viewed in the context of decades of public and political discourse that has constructed and represented the U. while most of their activity is unauthorised. the relationship between civilian policing projects and state border police appears to be troubled. and immigrants as a threat to society and the American way of life. Yet. infrared tracking devices. Yet the idea that the U.-Mexico border alone is guarded by more than 17. global positioning systems. it is no coincidence that the anti-immigration ideologies adopted by these groups have strong alliances with nationalist and white supremacy groups (Tobias and Foxman 2003). Thus. state border police are the sole regulator and provider of security on the border is difficult to sustain when the empirical realities of its daily policing are examined. Customs and Border Protection is the primary law enforcement agency. On the U. but also more dangerous. As one would expect. Activities include continuous foot patrols. in 2010 U. The activities of the groups share many features. All carry firearms and often detain suspected illegal immigrants at gunpoint (Chavez 2006).-Mexican border as a place of danger. President Barak Obama signed into law a $600m bill providing further security along the border. responsibility has fallen on their shoulders to achieve what the state has failed to do (Doty 2007).U. Nevertheless. A component of Homeland Security its 20. is that non-state policing tactics can be heavy handed and have a tendency to undermine principles of human rights and parsimony.-Canada border.S. The dramatic hardening of the border by official authorities comes at a time of increasing activity by unofficial civilian border patrol groups – or ‘vigilantes’ as they can also be described. American Border Patrol.

physical barriers and video surveillance which accompany traditional patrols on the border are routinely provided by private enterprises (see also Andreas 1996). This was originally signed in 1985 by five EU states (France. customs and the judiciary was dramatically increased. Luxembourg and the Netherlands) to eliminate border control between those countries. asylum rights and checks at external borders were adopted and coordination of the police. while four articles in the convention are about open borders. the biometric sensors. Earlier I mentioned how the continued strengthening of the European Union external borders undermines notions of a borderless Europe.S. The exclusionary processes of border policing can also be seen in European context. Reynolds estimates that 70% of the U. The paper outlines clearly the extent to which non-EU nationals are to be surveilled. Another example of privatised security is Blackwater and International Security Agency which are gaining global awareness due to accusations of human rights violations. and moves towards a common asylum and refugee policy.). unprompted by suspicion. Government for a contract in the hundreds of millions of dollars to protect U. land vehicles. Above all. As Blazakis (2008) makes clear. Belgium.S. The Schengen area has subsequently been extended to include almost every Member State. it acts on the basis of perceived immigration status. In recent years. spot checks in the hinterland. One of the first steps towards the creation of what has since become known as ‘Fortress Europe’ was the Schengen Agreement. we could add that the omnipresent emphasis on securing the U. One purpose of the agreement was to enhance freedom of movement over the internal borders between the Schengen countries. it would seem that European integration has fostered restrictiveness through processes of securitisation.S. there has been a further drive to extend the Schengen Information System and set up two new databases. the concerted wars on crime and immigration have seen the unprecedented rise of outsourcing national security matters to private corporations. The aim 8 . and it is commonly concluded that European integration. For instance.. Common rules regarding visas. Finally. This trend is heavily influenced by technology and equipment originally intended for U. unmanned aerial vehicles. In the U.that while the vigilantes posit a demonised other based on citizenship.-Mexico border is also increasingly motivated by corporate interests. Germany. Thielemann and El-Enany 2008). the reason these bodies are problematic in the privatisation of domestic security operations is because they are currently lobbying the U. for instance. as well as to establish a common visa policy. are having a negative impact on protection regimes thereby making it more difficult for migrants to reach Europe and benefit from asylum. However. As Reynolds (2010) explains. private corporations have an increasingly dominant role in policy security matters. one hundred and thirty eight are about increased control (Geddes 2000).S. in order to compensate for increased freedom of movement within the Schengen area. As Anderson et al (1995: 164) noted almost fifteen years ago.S. recommending that ‘security nets in areas whose geographic or transport characteristics mean that they are particularly exposed. much of the agreement was also about increased control of travellers coming in (Anderson et al 2005. Military operations. one dealing specifically with protesters and the other dealing with foreigners. ‘the image of migratory flows jeopardising internal security is often integrated into the vocabulary of law and order’. and intensive cooperation on the part of the authorities beyond the sphere of competence of the individual State’ (ibid. which stated that control must cover ‘every step taken by a third country national from the time he begins his journey to the time he reaches his destination’.S. intelligence budget is currently being given to private contractors. Hailbronner (2007: 163) demonstrates that the increased internal policing and surveillance network is most readily seen in the 1988 Strategy Paper on Asylum and Immigration Policy. citizens from the perceived dangers proposed by an unsecured border with Mexico. Indeed.

and to illuminate the personal experiences of those who rountinely enforce the security of borders. The overall aim is to document and make sense of the way border policing arrangements are currently organised and carried out. This landscape is altered by the boundaries between the enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla. In what follows I offer my own vision of what a methodological approach. which separate the Iberian Peninsula from the African continent. traders are increasingly employing private security personnel to protect their goods whilst crossing the border (Clochard and Dupeyron 2007). The technical and quasi-military character of border control on the Spanish-Moroccan border has received much criticism. a sophisticated and deliberate system of border patrols and detention centers that aim to make illegal immigration into the EU more difficult. Although Spanish border police and the military are the primary state response. Europe and Africa. prosperous north and impoverished south. The prospects of economic integration have encouraged a substantial increase in the number of people entering Spain from Morocco and. There has emerged. the erection of more and taller fences. spotlights and night-vision equipment. On the one hand. and Spijkerboer (2007) argues that states should be held responsible for fatalities that occur as a direct result of imposed border controls. or. EU territory and non-EU territory. The convergence of migration and asylum with terrorism and transnational crime allows national security agencies to advance external border control and internal police surveillance. the Spanish-Moroccan divide offers just one example of how processes of securitisation can reinforce social. The measures also include continuous foot patrols. helicopters with thermal and infrared cameras. Aspects of EU policy also blatantly treat asylum seekers and refugees as criminals. ‘the border is built on top of a captivating amalgamation of clash and alliance: Christianity and Islam. and its social impact. 9 . by the fragment of Moroccan Atlantic coast which lies opposite to the Canary Islands. involves taking and comparing fingerprints of asylum-seekers (Broeders 2007). which addresses the questions posed in this article. then the concern of any future empirical investigation should be to examine the multiple ways in which border policing is accomplished. former colonizer and former colonized’. it is comprised by the ten mile waters of the Strait of Gibraltar. For instance. Integrated System of External Surveillance) which allows the monitoring of the illegal immigration ‘gates’ of the border. and on the other. could look like. Increased surveillance carries with it alternative and more dangerous immigration routes. which form the Spanish-Moroccan land borders in the Maghreb. EURODAC. If we agree that border policing is an increasingly focused and diverse enterprise. political and economic asymmetries. security controls have been reinforced all along the border with the financial assistance of EU institutions (ibid. most notably through unsurveilled fragments of the Strait of Gibraltar. a system set up in 2002 for the identification of asylum seekers. Within this EU border landscape. The Spanish-Morocco border is garnering attention from human rights groups. comprising sensors capable of detecting heartbeats from a distance. An Empirical Framework The border realities discussed above provide much research appeal for sociologists of the police and set the path for further empirical exploration. and is somewhat unique in that it is essentially a wet one. Border controls are extremely technologically developed. therefore. As noted by Castillo-Diaz (2006: 14).is to facilitate the removal of third country nationals who have not left the EU with the prescribed time frame (see also Aas 2011). as a result.). This database would be in practice a register of all third country nationals in the EU who will be tagged with an alert if they overstay their visa or residence permit. The border is electronically sealed off by the SIVE (Sistema Integrado de Vigilancia Exterior. not least because increased control has led to rising numbers of documented fatalities.

In order to explore the official discourse that seeks to reinforce the symbolic importance of border protection. Care should be taken to ensure that the research captures the range of activity taking place. Second. Field observations should be conducted at traditional ‘checkpoints’ along the border. First. the analysis of all documents and legislation should be guided by an interpretive approach. the increasingly expansive policing and surveillance apparatus integral to 10 . however. but with cognizance of the contradictory impulses of states. In order to understand the legal and policy context surrounding the policing of borders. The final strand of methodology could comprise interviews with key actors involved in border enforcement. As noted earlier. Concluding Remarks My aim in this article has been to extend the agenda for research and reflection on the policing of borders. how they deal practically with real situations conveys a great deal about the norms and craft of routine policing. In a similar vein. immigration and trafficking would be a worthy focus of concern. First. but would also aim to isolate and capture perceptions and attitudes towards three aspects of border policing: (i) ‘the job’ – including status. I have made the case for a comprehensive study of the routine policing and surveillance of borders. seaports and incursions into neighbourhood territory. this approach could also include an examination of media representations of border policing.for instance. Two types of data are pertinent for accessing the on-the-ground features of border enforcement culture.such as airports. border policing has both physical and virtual aspects. To this end. In particular. In addition to speaking with front line officials. mission statements and reports of civilian patrol groups will offer an alternative insight into the informal world of border policing. processed and transformed into usable intelligence. under conditions of globalisation. policy documents and internal policing guidelines. Analysis of records relating to specific events . persons denied entry to countries .offer an important avenue for understanding border enforcement practices. the ways actors talk spontaneously about aspects of their occupation provide an important insight into their value and belief systems. rewards and challenges of border enforcement. it will also be important to observe the work of those who control biometric and screening systems. legislation pertaining to anti-terrorism. and have provided an empirical framework that could guide future work in this area. I have argued that contemporary border policing is characterised by three realities.The first strategy is an analysis of border enforcement discourses at the national level. it would be crucual to undertake a reading and analysis of key legislation. to loosen the flow of movement of people and goods while retaining regulation. (iii) ‘field of border policing’ – including views on the political and media interest in borders. as well as the work officials do at different zones of enforcement . Along with accompanying border police in situ. the observational phase will also acquire detailed understanding of how surveillance information is collected. Clearly. These would be useful for testing the findings of the observations. relations with people crossing borders and dispositions towards different enforcement styles. (ii) ‘working environment’ – including views on local problems. guidelines for border officers and any inspection reports would also be a useful source of information as they provide an insight into organisational priorities. Finally. The value of this method for uncovering and documenting the low visibility practices of social control professionals is well documented (Reiner 2000b. Likewise the websites. the political and financial investment afforded by states into defending territories suggests that a process of intensification is taking place. Loftus 2009). Second. in order to understand the everyday deployment of ideologies of the border. it will be crucial to conduct interviews with civilian patrol groups and elites in the wider environment. Second. the research should primarily comprise dedicated periods of observation of state and non-state border police as they go about their ordinary work. I began by exploring the increasingly defensive character of borders.

but also through forms of containment upon the point of arrival and beyond (see also Bosworth 2012). K. we are witnessing a new coalition of private and public bodies involved in border enforcement. We could also add here the gradual transposition of border enforcement mentalities into everyday society. Certainly within the United Kingdom. It is within this context of anxieties about global folk devils that border control emulates familiar patterns of exclusion along inflections of ethnicity. visible minorities are particularly vulnerable to exclusion beyond national borders. would provide an invaluable insight into the inner-world of border policing. As Weber and Bowling (2004) observe. such as the introduction of technologies for social screening. Although any person whose citizenship is ostensibly flawed can be subject to the exclusionary practices of border control. In contrast. Collumpton: Willan Publishing. scholars need to track how new security frameworks are realised at the local level and how they are acted out against national environments. K. class and gender (Weber and Bowling 2008).F. The claim I have tried to foster is that as policing and security governance on the border becomes more intense and innovative. 15. the intensification of internal immigration controls has drawn the police into more routine activities which mimic those demonstrated by border officials. 331-346. the overarching objective is to deny entry to those suspected of violating state laws. in M. Media. Gerard and Pickering 2012). political and legal context. Much of this work has focused on the subject who is making the passage into a nation state. perspectives and experiences of those who routinely enforce border priorities.) Global Policing and Surveillance. Pp. the police have been particularly drawn into aspects of border control that offer the prospect of serious criminal prosecutions.F. the exclusionary potential of border regimes not only plays out through efforts to prevent arrival. those concerning trafficking (see also Weber 2011). (2005) ‘Getting ahead of the game: border technologies and the changing space of governance’. Unsurprisingly. (2011) ‘Crimmigrant’ bodies and bona fide travellers: surveillance. in the post 9/11 climate. I have argued that policing scholarship can lead the way and take forward a more holistic understanding of border practices by examining the stories. for instance. and scholars have sought to capture the narratives of those people subjected to border controls. Theoretical Criminology. Zureik (eds. Finally. Recent work has examined novel forms of border control. including promoting migrant fatalities. 237-256. Crime. in a nodal and fluid policing landscape. Weber and Bowling 2008) and gender (Pickering 2011. (2006) ‘The body does not lie: identity. 11 . citizenship and global governance. REFERENCES Aas. As Gerard and Pickering (2012) show. This ‘policing at a distance’ (Bigo and Guild 2005) is more often than not also accompanied by face-to-face interactions. Understanding how policing and security play out on the border is imperative because of the potential it has to operate outside of equitable frameworks of social justice.enforcement betrays a deepening of contemporary border control. Salter and E. There is a growing body of theoretical and empirical work that considers how border regimes impact upon social distinctions of race and ethnicity (Bosworth 2008. Culture 2(2): 143–58. Yet the often rigorous approach taken towards border enforcement can have the unfortunate effect of exacerbating human and drugs trafficking thereby leading to human rights abuses. as well as by their own beliefs systems. K. risk and trust in technoculture’. Aas. Illuminating the ways in which various actors are influenced by the social. Aas.

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