Notwithstanding massive government investments in immigration controls in the United States and Europe, illegal immigration and the unlawful employment of migrants continue, fueled in large measure by highly adaptive “bad actors” who facilitate and profit from illegality: smugglers, traffickers, and unscrupulous employers among them. While pathways to entry have become more difficult, dangerous, and costly, this has failed to deter migrants, especially where there is a demand for their labor. This reality has fueled a growing “market” for ever more sophisticated and creative means to circumvent border controls and post-entry enforcement efforts. The eighth plenary meeting of the Transatlantic Council on Migration, "Curbing the Influence of 'Bad Actors' in International Migration," focused on examining innovative, practical policy solutions that curb the influence of these bad actors by shrinking the “gray area” in which they operate. Read the Council Statement resulting from the Council meeting.
Papers presented at the Council’s meeting are available here:
Securing Borders: The Intended, Unintended, and Perverse Consequences
Notwithstanding massive government investments in immigration controls in the United States and Europe, illegal immigration and the unlawful employment of migrants continue, fueled in large measure by highly adaptive “bad actors” who facilitate and profit from illegality: smugglers, traffickers, and unscrupulous employers among them. This report outlines the security-related challenges that borders are intended to address and, in turn, the perverse consequences (both predictable and not) that tighter border enforcement generates.
Spheres of Exploitation: Thwarting Actors Who Profit from Illegal Labor, Domestic Servitude, and Sex Work
Large-scale movement across borders is too often exploited by “bad actors” who manipulate the system for profit. This report analyzes three spheres where perpetrators are motivated by the lure of high profits and low risks: the domestic care sector, the labor market, and the sex industry. It explores the obstacles that governments face in taking on these bad actors and examines the tools that exist to disrupt the business model of exploitation, including anti-trafficking legislation, penalties for employers who hire unauthorized workers, inspections, regulations, and public awareness campaigns.
A Strategic Framework for Creating Legality and Order in Immigration
Various forms of illegality that can result from immigration undermine the positive economic and social benefits of international migration, and in some cases produce costs that may outweigh the benefits. This report examines the forms of risks associated with immigration, among them worker exploitation, undermining of formal labor markets and the rule of law, profit to criminal enterprises, and potential adverse fiscal and welfare consequences. It outlines policy tools that policymakers have at their disposal to address the risks associated with immigration. Among them are policies that aim to prevent abuses by disrupting illicit activities and actors before they reach the border, as well as policies that target labor markets and put in place an effective and strategic enforcement regime to tackle these immigration harms.
Trade-Offs in Immigration Enforcement
Policymakers on both sides of the Atlantic confront significant constraints in addressing the population of unauthorized migrants, not least with respect to insufficient resources to tackle illegal migration and legal frameworks that protect individuals regardless of their residence status. This report explores the trade-offs that policymakers face with respect to comprehensive enforcement efforts, which often have adverse consequences in related policy domains, such as public health and safety.
“Donkey Flights”: Illegal Immigration from the Punjab to the United Kingdom
The facilitation of illegal immigration is big business in India. One method being used to exploit immigration loopholes, explored in this report, is referred to as “donkey flights”—the practice of Indian migrants obtaining a tourist visa for a Schengen-zone country in order to enter the United Kingdom through the back door via other European countries.
Human Smuggling and Trafficking into Europe: A Comparative Perspective
Human smuggling and trafficking are rapidly growing transnational criminal activities in Europe, where the demand to enter for work or to escape dire political or economic situations in migrant-sending countries exceeds the legal migration opportunities. The problem has become a high priority for EU Member States, and is especially challenging given Europe’s relatively porous borders. This report examines the factors and facilitators at play and assesses policy solutions.
Transatlantic Council Statement: Curbing the Influence of "Bad Actors" in International Migration
This Council Statement assesses the continuum of policies needed to disrupt illegal migration-related activities and addresses the conditions that make them possible. It examines the role of migration "bad actors"—human traffickers and unscrupulous employers, among them—who operate and profit in this environment, and considers how governments can deploy resources to discourage their actions.