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Education or enforcement? Enrolling universities in the surveillance and policing of migration

Crime, Law and Social Change

Published online on



This article examines the enlistment of educational providers in the surveillance and policing of non-citizen students. Employing the USA, UK, and Australia as cases, it situates efforts that render universities responsible for managing migrant “illegality” in broader trends concerning legal control and security governance. In particular, it analyzes the development of electronic surveillance and information-sharing systems that mobilize the knowledge, energies, and access of educational providers for the purposes of identification, tracking, and reporting. University personnel’s conscription as de facto border guards accentuates the pluralization of migration policing, highlighting how techniques of governance and surveillance are effectuated through quotidian actors and sites positioned beyond the sovereign state. By drawing universities into the orbit of territorial gatekeeping and interior enforcement, emergent policies are producing numerous tensions, whether in relation to their officially stated objectives or transformations in higher education’s character, ethos, and mission and their implications for non-citizens’ legal and social identities. Alongside enhancing understandings of migration control, this paper advances conversations regarding the increasingly networked, pre-emptive, and ubiquitous qualities of social ordering and control.