Jean-Noël Senne published his paper “Borders Start With Numbers: How Migration Data Create “Fake Illegals”, co-authored with T. Jaulin, A. Mesnard, H. Thiollet, and F. Savatic, in Internation Migration Review, 2023.

Abstract: Sudden rises in migration across the borders of the Global North have persistently attracted substantial media attention and fueled hostility toward “irregular migrants” and “bogus refugees.” While existing qualitative studies have extensively criticized the migrant-refugee distinction, we offer unique quantitative evidence of how migration numbers and labels construct impressions of increased irregular migration while in fact creating “fake illegals.” We conduct a two-stage mixed-method analysis and develop a novel method to divide Irregular Border Crossings (IBCs) measured by Frontex data into those who would likely obtain asylum in 31 European destination states (“likely refugees”) and those who would not (“likely irregular migrants”) across time given asylum acceptance rates by nationality. We estimate that between 2009 and 2021, most border crossers labeled as “irregular/illegal” (55.4%) were actually “likely refugees,” a proportion we estimate to be 75.5% at the peak of arrivals in 2015. Our constructivist approach reveals how migration data and categories both influence and are influenced by securitized border policies and that, in this respect, borders start with numbers.

Read the full article here: [Link]