‘Protections’ that increase vulnerability

Both Maggy Lee and Nico Johansen, drawing on the work of William Walters (2011), consider in Chapters 7 and 14 respectively the development of a ‘humanitarian industry’ to manage borders. Both show how such humanitarian intervention can add to victimization of the weakest and poorest. Lee discusses how border management has been strengthened (to some degree unwittingly) through international programmes and actors who are ‘in the process, becoming “active subjects” in the contemporary (re)making of borders’. She questions whether the NGOs claiming to help deal with trafficking are effective, noting their sometimes ambiguous relationships with the state. What may seem a secure border to police and NGOs may in fact be a ‘space of insecurity’ for poorer girls and women, and encourage criminalization and further securitization.

Sharon Pickering and Leanne Weber in Chapter 5 make a related point in their discussion of how the increased involvement of the Australian Federal Police in ‘deterring and disrupting’ asylum seekers arriving by boat has given the police a more ideological, politicized role. It has had other perverse effects such as creating a

‘symbiotic relationship’ between people-smugglers and the police: they argue that the construction of people-smuggling as a criminal and policing problem has diverted attention from considering why people were arriving in Australia to claim asylum and simplified the debate. It has also led to a succession of moves and counter moves by the smugglers and police, while the risks for the victims of smugglers continue to increase. Again, the human impact of policy is relegated in the process. The authors argue that the lived realities ofpeople at the heart ofborder policing can help ‘to mount a sustained critique of the trafficking-as-immigration crime control discourse’.

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