‘Crimmigration’ scholarship studies the interplay between migration and criminal law, focusing on how people-on-the-move and migrant solidarity are increasingly criminalized as part of migration control efforts. However, the link between criminal law and migration control can also be found elsewhere; namely in the crimes committed by state officials during migration control, which largely go unpunished.
During this discussion, organised by Radboud University, Irinia Fehr advocates for a more holistic understanding of the crime-migration nexus, integrating the (missed) opportunities of criminalizing migration control practices into the scholarly debate. Building on the concepts of ‘under- and over-criminalization’, she examines to what extent criminal law can be invoked selectively to favor state interests in the context of migration control. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork on the case study of external EU borders in Croatia, it is discussed how criminal law is relevant both for the (over-)criminalization of migration-enabling practices, such as migrant solidarity, as well as the under-criminalization of state-perpetrated border violence. Ultimately, this analysis adds to the theoretical foundation underlying the use of criminal law to hold perpetrators of border violence accountable, exploring a legal framework that has thus far been neglected in efforts to challenge illegal migration control practices in Europe.