Lecture explores the dilemmas of migration policing

Professor Ana Aliverti (University of Warwick) has highlighted the moral tensions that arise in police and immigration officers’ everyday work, in a lecture at the University of York.

17 October 2023

Professor Aliverti explored the competing rationales, emotions and values that underpin the governance of marginalised groups. In particular, she looked at the example of migration policing in the UK.

Since 2016, UK immigration policies have added safeguarding and care for the vulnerable to the priority of detecting and ejecting illegal migrants. This means that immigration officers have to deal with competing demands of immigration control and care for migrants. Professor Aliverti spoke about how officers navigate these moral tensions and dilemmas that arise in their everyday work. For some officers, vulnerability work is perceived as professionally and politically troubling, for others it is an opportunity to find a moral quality to their job, often deemed as tainted.

The lecture, hosted by the ESRC Vulnerability & Policing Futures Research Centre, drew on a number of Professor Aliverti’s research projects, including her ethnographic work on Immigration Enforcement; a multi-ethnography on border guards conducted with colleagues in the UK, Chile and Spain; and the Vulnerable State Project based at the Criminal Justice Centre, University of Warwick.

Reflecting on her talk, Professor Aliverti said, “Rather than romanticising or vilifying vulnerability work, we can explore the murkier terrain of tensions and dilemmas that it opens up.”

“It was fantastic to have Professor Aliverti join us and share her research into the emotional and moral tensions of migration policing,” said Professor Adam Crawford, Co-Director of the Vulnerability & Policing Futures Research Centre.

“Professor Aliverti’s research crosses over with some of our Centre’s key areas of work, and it was wonderful to be able to learn from her and share ideas that touch on our research.”



Picture by Simon Walker / No 10 Downing Street via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 DEED)