Book Review | Crimmigrant Nations: Resurgent Nationalism And The Closing Of Borders

 By Vishnupriya
ISBN: ‎ 978-0823287499 Publisher: Fordham University Press Date of Publishing: 3rd March 2022 Paperback: 416 pages Language: English Country of Origin: USA


Edited by Robert Koulish and Martje van der Woude, Crimmigrant Nations is a collection of works surrounding crimmigration, nationalism, and populism, written by renowned scholars who share an interest in examining the increasingly blurred lines between anti-immigration sentiments and criminal justice. The authors unearth the history behind this criminal perspective of immigrants concerning Europe, Britain, and the USA. Migrants in these countries have been animalised and treated as a “bunch of killable, coloured bodies, separate from the white nationalist sovereign authority”, normalising them having to assume responsibility for their own degradation, misery and death.

In recent years, nationalism has spread as the most powerful social movement, promulgating the necessity to have a shared national identity. From a nationalist perspective, immigrants and refugees threaten to destabilise this shared identity and thereby the nation itself. Over the years, with the increasing influx of refugees into the US, Britain, and Europe, they were perceived as alien outsiders who must be feared and hated. The governments in these regions and their followers created enemies and threats from immigrants where none existed.

The existing literature on migration analyses focuses solely on how migration poses risks to a country’s security, arising from fearing the immigrant. The authors of each chapter analyse the draconian ways in which crimmigration prevails and how nationalism and populism play a catalyst to darker realities. Dividing the book into three parts, the authors of this book are determined to present the inhumanity of immigration policies and border control strategies.

Border Criminologies

In the first chapter, titled Insecurity SyndromeTony Platt analyses the Trump administration’s actions against immigration and its consequent effects on the American population, especially immigrant Latinx. The American ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and the DHS (Department of Homeland Security) function centered on race as an unwritten rule. Immigrants were deported in large numbers on petty criminal offences like traffic tickets. This saw the growth of a larger trend throughout the west- the erosion of social democracy, consolidation of neoliberalism, and the tightening of borders, all topped off with a hint of fascism.

The role that national institutions play in promoting the ‘fear of crime’ must be understood, and the role played by our own institutional history must be practically realised. This can lend a hand in fighting social justice and bridge the gap between theoretical knowledge and the practicality of something. Throughout the chapter, the author reiterates the importance of cultivating an attitude of defiance to fight power.

In the following chapter titled Migration, Populism, Racism- Between ‘Old’ Italy and ‘New’ Europe by Dario Melossi,the concept of racism, economic migration and social control are discussed. Melossi notes that Europe’s unity in social and cultural terms is limited due to linguistic diversity. The author compares the situation of migrants in Europe with that of African slaves. Europe’s refugee ‘crisis’ was dealt with alone by border countries, primarily Italy. This influx of migrants in Italy has replaced unproductive, retired Italians with energetic young workers. For European and Italian nationalist elites, this isn’t a favourable form of productivity. They would instead prefer the people of their nation to produce more children. The author suggests that Europe requires a solid migration policy based on more than just good values and sentiments.

Ana Aliverti writes the Promise of the Border- Immigration Control and Belonging in Contemporary Britain. She analyses the relationship between crime and social order and how they are being redefined in the postcolonial world. The fears and anxieties brought about by mass migration and globalisation were used by political authorities to spread nationalism and populism and thereby build a mighty sovereign state. Aliverti terms crime “a form of governance” through which other social issues like drugs, poverty, etc., are framed and acted upon. This conceptualisation is often imbalanced, weighing down heavier upon marginalised communities. Speaking to immigration officers, some of whom were children of immigrants, the author discovers that the job requires carrying the burden of ethical discomfort daily while trying to rationalise one’s jobs.

Crimmigration Under Trump

The Terrorism of Everyday Crime by Juliet P. Stumpf paints a picture for us using two incidents to understand the role of the news and social media in building misconceptions about racially and religiously different migrants. Both the incidents are not interconnected, except in how there was an instant mischaracterisation of the facts based on assumptions, misunderstandings, and racial and religious bias. The author also clearly defines what neo-nationalism, crimmigration, border and enemy penology are, their intersection, and how they are linked with immigration policies and political propaganda.

Authors Sappho Xenakis and Leonidas K. Cheliotis examine the US’s neoliberal dogma and the use of imprisonment in The Trumping of Neoliberal Penality? Trump’s Presidency and the Rise of Nationalist Authoritarianism in the United States. They dissect the punitive policies of the Trump administration and how they might be dimmer than before. Neoliberalism plays a massive role in penal matters and policies in general in the socioeconomic reality of the US. Many white nationalists tend to lean towards a particular ‘nationalist authoritarianism’, which manifests itself in the inhuman treatment of ethno-racial minorities and migrants. The authors present how the US is trying to produce economic protectionism abroad and play divisive, identity-based politics at home.

In the chapter titled Trump v. Hawaii, Robert Koulishargues that Trump’s immigration-related executive orders boast of nation-state sovereignty and also mirror authoritarian rule. The US immigration control regime legitimised extreme exclusionary power over the most vulnerable groups. One of Trump’s first executive actions was to unleash his plenary executive power over Muslim immigrants, further dehumanising refugees and acting as a sovereign power exceeding constitutional norms.

Making sense of the Trump v. Hawaii court decision, the author notes how the court has worked to amplify President Trump’s discourse that immigrants of colour are a blight and a threat. Further in the chapter, the author examines crimmigration and criminology, how immigration law is distinct from public law and what characteristics separate it from general administrative apparatus.

In A Path toward Nowhere, The Rise of Enforcement-based Immigration Policy by Doris Marie Provine, the author presents a view that the US Congress no longer is a reliable platform for airing or resolving controversial issues like immigration. Provine notes how the law deals with immigration briefly and indirectly, the same way it dealt with African enslavement in a 1787 document. The ‘prevention through deterrence’ strategy of Border Control led to thousands of immigrants dying due to exposure, dehydration, and drowning. The author also analyses the rise of contentious federalism, which is feared by the millions of undocumented individuals living in the country whom the law automatically criminalises. In probing the limits of the government’s executive power, Provine writes of Trump’s mean-spirited tweets and relentless efforts toward anti-immigration actions.

Rashawn Ray and Simone Durham write about the Trump administration’s controversial racist stand in this chapter titled Trump Doesn’t Tweet Dog Whistles, He Barks with the Dogs. A fascinating phenomenon of Dog Whistle politics and Group Threats are introduced, which act as mechanisms of crimmigration. Dog Whistle politics are political messages that can mean one thing to one group and something more harsh and direct to another group. The authors analyse Trump’s Twitter for emergent themes about immigration and immigrants amongst his myriad remarks in a language that goes too far. The chapter draws upon the racialisation of immigrants, especially Latinx and Hispanic individuals, crimmigration as a racial project, and various mechanisms that aid these.

Agnieszka Kubal and Alejandro Olayo-Mendez speculate US and Russian immigration in the chapter titled Mirrors of Justice, Undocumented Immigrants in Courts in the United States and Russia. They bring to our attention the punitive effects of immigration policies on the migrant population in the US and Russia. The authors analyse this through the Streamline Initiative in the US and through the most common criminal offences relating to migrants in Russia, which focused on expediting the criminal prosecution of immigrants. Large groups of immigrants entering the country are brought to court at once and sentenced in a few hours in the ‘conveyor belt immigration system’. The authors examine whether overreliance on criminal law can harden faulty concepts and delimit the constitution. Through this chapter, the author relays how under the formal proceedings of the court, there is always an underlying bureaucratic-administerial logic of efficiency, which makes these cases punitive.

Shoring Up Fortress Europe

Maartje van der Woude in the chapter called Euroskepticism, Nationalism, and the Securitisation of Migration in the Netherlands, explains how the influx of refugees isn’t just another ‘crisis’. Van der Woude empirically understands the causes of immigration and how it has provided governments with an opportunity to implement stricter border control and policies. Throughout post-World War II Europe, there was an inevitable national necessity to preserve cultural homogeneity and an equal fear of cultural heterogeneity. Eventually, the unease around immigration raised concerns about protecting the community from the external ‘enemy’ and building ‘Fortress Europe’. Van der Woude also looks at other European countries like Norway, Sweden, and the Netherlands, where penal systems are far more tolerant, lenient, and liberal.

Helene O.I. Gundhuswrites Sorting Out Welfare, Crimmigration Practices and Abnormal Justice in Norway. This chapter observes how a State otherwise known for promoting inclusivity and moderate use of penal power has been increasingly deporting immigrants, especially young offenders aged 18 years. Immigration policies in Norway are designed to discourage immigrants from seeking residence thereby signalling that Norway is a strict country. A large portion of Norway’s resources is spent on deportation, giving it the highest deportation rates in Europe. Minor immigrants, especially those aged between 15 and 18, do not receive adequate care or protection of their rights. Identifying young immigrant minors as ‘potential criminals’ makes it even harder to give them unbiased care.

The Fight Against Terrorism in Belgium, written by Lana de Pelecijn andSteven De Ridder examine shifting paradigms in how crime and migration are viewed concerning terrorism. With international media and President Trump depicting Brussels and Belgium as ‘the capital of European Jihadism’ and a ‘hell hole’ respectively, anti-terrorism policies have been strengthened. The chapter explores crimmigration law becoming the forefront of anti-terrorism policies in Belgium, and why countries rely on it so much. Analysing the preventive measures taken by the Belgian government, such as license plate recognition and data collection, showing that their strategy is to govern terrorism through risk.

In Witold Klaus’ How Does Crimmigration Unfold in Poland, the author combines the theories of Crimmigration by Juliet Stumpf, New Penology by Mary Bosworth and Mhairi Guild, and the Critique of Enemy Penology by Susan Krasmann. Through the example of Poland, the author demonstrates how these theories complement one another to understand the social reality of the migrant policy. Giving a brief history of Poland, the author cites how the country no longer remains the nation of emigrants and immigrants as it used to be. Poland’s borders acted as a ‘velvet’ curtain to the East of Europe, dividing the EU from a different world and its inhabitants.

Zeynep Kasli and Zeynep Yanasmayanwrite Migration Control, Citizenship Regime, and the Spectrum of Exclusion in Turkey. The authors note how right-wing populist parties look at immigration as a dangerous diversion from the norm. It threatened Turkey’s ideals of ‘one people, one flag, one homeland, one state’. The chapter tries to understand the role of ethnoreligious divisions in the citizenship regime, which generally go unnoticed. The amalgamation of foreign policy interests and the citizenship regime help in the ‘preservation’ of the country’s ‘Turkishness’. Looking at populist politics and electoral authoritarianism, it suspends the rights granted by the constitution.


The book gives an integrated understanding of crimmigration and how it has undoubtedly gained ground in every country which has seen refugees enter its boundaries. It carefully deconstructs various angles of immigration, including policies, the law, and other theories. Crimmigrant Nations makes for a very intriguing and informative read which hopefully will change how the masses view refugees and border control.