Border Control and the Limits of the Sovereign State

As has been widely recognized and commented upon, border controls across Europe and America have been strenuously tightened since September 11th. In fact, of course, the movement of certain non-citizens in and around most western, industrialized countries had been restricted for some time predating the advent of the `war on terror’. In this article I will explore the particular use being made in Britain of criminal justice rhetoric and policy as a means of securing the border and the implications of this reliance on criminal justice discourses in the development of immigration and asylum policies. Building on work by David Garland (1996) and Jonathan Simon (2007), I suggest not only that the increased concern over border control reflects a decline in the power of the state in the face of globalization, but also that the adoption of harsh rhetoric about foreigners risks undermining the agency and democratic freedoms long held dear by British citizens.

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