The European Union and the racialization of immigration, 1985-2006

Steve J. Garner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Over the past two decades, the European Union (EU) has played an increasingly influential role in the construction of a de facto common immigration and asylum policy, providing a forum for policy-formulation beyond the scrutiny of national parliaments. The guiding principles of this policy include linking the immigration portfolio to security rather than justice; reaffirming the importance of political, conceptual and organizational borders; and attempting to transfer policing and processing functions to non-EU countries. The most important element, I argue, is the structural racialization of immigration that occurs across the various processes and which escapes the focus of much academic scrutiny. Exploring this phenomenon through the concept of the “racial state,” I examine ways to understand the operations of immigration policy-making at the inter-governmental level, giving particular attention to the ways in which asylum-seekers emerge as a newly racialized group who are both stripped of their rights in the global context and deployed as Others in the construction of national narratives.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-87
Number of pages27
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2007

Bibliographical note

This article was published as Garner, Steve J. (2007) The European Union and the Racialization of Immigration, 1985-2006. Race/Ethnicity: Multidisciplinary Global Contexts, 1 (1). pp. 61-87. ISSN 1935-8644. No part of this article may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted, or distributed, in any form, by any means, electronic, mechanical, photographic, or otherwise, without the prior permission of Indiana University Press. For educational re-use, please contact the Copyright Clearance Center (508-744-3350). For all other permissions, please visit Indiana University Press' permissions page (


  • race
  • racism
  • immigration
  • European Union
  • asylum
  • racialisation


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