GOVERNING IMMIGRATION THROUGH CRIME AT THE STREET LEVEL. The metamorphosis of an immigration detention centre in Belgium

Andrew Crosby


Based on ethnographic research in an immigration detention centre in Belgium the author discusses the evolution of the regime to which the detainees are subjected. In the official language of the Immigration Office, this evolution is called humanisation of detention. A reconstruction of the changes shows that instead the regime was changed for the well-being of
the staff. In fact, immigration detention must be understood as a result of the rise of warehousing practices of the penal state. The staff of the centres has the task of executing the punitive measure of detention. However, this became too burdensome for the staff and so the regime was gradually humanised without change in legislation. All levels of staff were implicated
in this change. The author argues that the changes were made to account to different actors: inside the Immigration Office accountability was directed to the staff, while externally this process was called humanisation.


Immigration Detention, Implementation, Governing Immigration through Crime, Street-level Bureaucracy, Ethopolitics.

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Registrazione presso il Tribunale di Napoli n. 37 del 05/07/2012