- Les politiques migratoires by Fischer Nicolas, Hamidi Camille
In a period rife with debate on immigration in France and Europe, this book is a timely tool for understanding the current issues involved in migration policy. Nicolas Fischer and Camille Hamidi present an overview of recent studies of the migration policies applied in Europe and North America.
The point of departure is the migration crisis of 2015, often said to be unprecedented. The book shows that above and beyond two recent and quite major changes – the quantitative increase and globalization of international migration – the current crisis fits into an older “migration problematic” that has been the subject of many research studies since the 1980s. While both authors are political scientists, in this book they adopt a wide-ranging disciplinary perspective that combines political science, sociology, history, anthropology, geography and economics.
The first of the five chapters focuses on immigration policy design; specifically, the explanatory models used to design migration policies, who develops those policies, who implements them, and how they are implemented in practical terms. The second chapter is on migrant receiving and residence policies; these are divided into immigration and political asylum policies, the latter studied in Chapter 3. Chapter 4 focuses on repressive immigration regulation. Though this dimension is found in all migration policies, it is also a policy in itself, with its own history and problematic, which explains why the authors devote an entire chapter to it. Their original division into topic areas corresponds to the main policy subdivisions that developed out of the “[institutionalization and transformation of] administrative categories, public policies, and practices purporting to describe and administer migrants and their movements” (p. 6).
The diverse approaches used to study migration policies make this stimulating reading. The various chapters each open out onto a brief history of the policies studied and how migration policy administrative categories were constructed. Early in Chapter 2 the authors note that migration was not regulated in Europe until WWI; policies for regulating migrant flows were constructed gradually over the course of the twentieth century. The questions of migration policy internationalization – specifically, Europeanization – and how migration policies became stricter are likewise discussed from a historical perspective in order to “break free of state-specific conceptual frameworks” (p. 7). And each of the major migration categories is analysed from a “dynamic and relational perspective” (p. 7) by way of overviews of studies of real implementation of migration policies in local social spaces. The conclusions of a considerable number of field studies on local practices of clerks in prefectures, “the bureaucracy of asylum”, the activist intermediary role of advocacy groups, resistance and mobilization by migrants and those who support them, strategies for staying in the receiving country as an undocumented migrant and avoiding arrest are duly presented in the various chapters. Last, the book’s multi-scale perspective enables readers to [End Page 358] observe the growing role of the supranational level – especially the European Union – in designing and implementing migration policies and to compare different national situations and contexts. The ever-present three dimensions of these analyses of migration policies – historical, sociological and geographic – combined with a concern to synthesize as dictated by the book format (157 pages) represent its greatest strengths.
However, the plurality characterizing the work – plurality of policies analysed, of approaches, disciplines, analytic scales and methods – can also at times undermine its structure and clarity. Likewise, the cross-sectionality of migration policy, the fact that it applies to and affects a range of public action areas, may call into question the relevance of the structure the authors have chosen. Nevertheless, there is an obvious concern to educate readers, who will in turn appreciate the clear, detailed table of contents and the fifteen-page bibliography, with all the references needed to enrich their knowledge on the subject. Last, the book’s multi-disciplinarity makes it a very good introduction to the complex issues involved in migration policies. [End Page 359]