Join us for the Webinar on 'Migrant smuggling vs counter-smuggling: dangers both ways'

Date: Wednesday June 15 2022

Time: 10:00-11:15 EST (Ottawa, ONT)

This is 07:00 PST (Vancouver), 15:00 GMT (London), 16:00 CET (Amsterdam), 17:00 TRT

(Istanbul, TR, and 22:00 SGT (Singapore).

Wondering how counter-smuggling operations impact the safety of migrants and

the local dynamics of mobility? Join us for the upcoming webinar organized by

Metropolis International.


Only registered persons can be allowed to the webinar. For those who have not yet

registered, click here.


Migrant smuggling—the facilitation for profit of the entry of a person into a country

other than their own—is at the core of the discourse worldwide on irregular migration,

migration controls, and border security. The term ‘smuggling’, along with specific

claims about its nature, has long been invoked by countries concerned about the

presence of irregular migrants. It is routine to characterize smuggling as managed by

complex and cruel criminal organizations that garner staggering profits from their

illegal actions. Recently, however, empirical work from several migration corridors has

called into question many of these generalizations about sophisticated smuggling

operations, calling for a more nuanced and bottom-up understanding of the facilitation

of irregular migration.


Although this empirical work has provided important and useful insights into the

complexities of smuggling, it has neglected the impact of counter-smuggling measures

on irregular migration. Counter-smuggling programs have become ubiquitous and

often take the form of externalizing border controls through agreements with countries

of transit. To fully understand irregular migration, we must consider the effects of

counter-smuggling measures on migration patterns, on the migrants themselves, and

on the societies from which they come and to which they travel. Efforts to control the

smuggling services that are relied upon by many migrants can bring their own harms.

The case studies now available suggest that criminalizing certain forms of migration

and associated facilitation services by labelling them as ‘smuggling’ perversely fosters

rather than contains clandestine mobility and exacerbates migrant victimization.

Furthermore, counter-smuggling initiatives seem to create new, informal but

consequential policing interactions among citizens as the responsibility to “detect”

migrants travelling irregularly is extended to include bus drivers, shopkeepers, hotel

owners, and ordinary citizens.


In this webinar, we draw from examples in Europe, North Africa and the Americas to

shed light on the effects of counter-smuggling operations on the safety of migrants

and on the local dynamics of mobility.


  • Gabriella Sanchez, University of Massachusetts Lowell
  • Lina Vosyliute, Centre for European Policy Studies, Brussels
  • Kheira Arrouche, University of Leeds


  • Howard Duncan (Carleton University, Ottawa)
  • Jan Rath (Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study (NIAS), Amsterdam, and Erasmus University Rotterdam)

Hosted by

Metropolis International, established in 1996, is the largest cross-sectoral international

network of professionals in the field of migration, integration/inclusion, and diversity. It

provides an international platform for constructive dialogue and effective production &

dissemination of policy-relevant, socially-meaningful, and evidence-based knowledge across

the policy, research, civil society, and private sectors.


Only registered persons can be allowed to the webinar. For those who have not yet

registered, click here.

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