Decriminalizing Migration

By: Allegra McLeod  

In the face of rampant hostility to migrants, movements for immigration justice across the world are responding locally with small-scale initiatives that begin to instantiate a world without borders, one that welcomes foreigners and strangers and insists upon their claim to move or remain. These efforts offer a vision of how such an inclusive borderless world might begin to come into being, incrementally, through a political practice participants understand in terms of “prefiguration” - manifesting at a local scale the kinds of relationships and values one wishes to realize in the world more broadly. In the United States, the group Standing Up for Racial Justice or SURJ has organized volunteers from around the U.S. to travel to the Southern border to welcome caravans of Central American refugees and other detained immigrants, offering support and actively confronting the military and other officers deployed to turn away those migrants. In the United Kingdom, the No Borders Network has carried out co-ordinated blockades of the Border and Immigration Agency (now UK Border Agency) to prevent dawn raids by immigration officers from taking place. And throughout the Mediterranean, volunteers at sea work to help migrants to make their way to safe harbors and refuge. This paper explores this diverse array of movement projects to reveal how participants are transforming hostile ground into opportunities for solidarity and collective sanctuary as well as the material and ideological obstacles that must be overcome.

Border politics
2019 Special Focus—Border Crossing Narratives: Learning from the Refugee Experience
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Allegra McLeod

Law professor, social theorist