irregular migration

GC: n

S: PPL – (last access: 21 November 2018); MPI – (last access: 21 November 2018).

N: 1. – irregular (adj): late 14c., “not in conformity with Church rules,” from Old French irreguler “irregular, incapable, incompetent” (13c., Modern French irrégulier), from Medieval Latin irregularis “not regular,” from assimilated form of in– “not, opposite of” + Latin regularis “having rules”. General sense of “not conforming to regular rules or principles” is from late 15c. “It expresses the fact of being out of conformity with rule, but implies nothing more with certainty. Yet the word is sometimes used in a sinister sense, as though it were a euphemism for something worse.” Meaning “unsymmetrical” is from 1580s. In reference to variable stars, from 1797.
– migration (n): 1610s, of persons, 1640s of animals, from Latin migrationem (nominative migratio) “a removal, change of abode, migration,” noun of action from past participle stem of migrare “to move from one place to another,” probably originally *migwros, from PIE *meigw– (source of Greek ameibein “to change”), from root *mei– “to change, go, move”.
2. Movement of persons to a new place of residence or transit that takes place outside the regulatory norms of the sending, transit and receiving countries.
3. There is no clear or universally accepted definition of irregular migration.
4. From the perspective of destination countries it is entry, stay or work in a country without the necessary authorization or documents required under immigration regulations.
5. From the perspective of the sending country, the irregularity is for example seen in cases in which a person crosses an international boundary without a valid passport or travel document or does not fulfil the administrative requirements for leaving the country.
6. The Council of Europe differentiates between illegal migration and irregular migrant. Referring to Resolution 1509 (2006) of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly, ‘illegal’ is preferred when referring to a status or process, whereas ‘irregular’ is preferred when referring to a person.
7. The analysis of irregular migration is further hampered by a serious lack of accurate data, making it diffi cult to identify trends or to compare the scale of the phenomenon in different parts of the world. There is, however, a broad consensus that, as the number of international migrants has increased, so too has the global scale of irregular migration. It is estimated by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) that between 10 and 15 per cent of Europe’s 56 million migrants have irregular status, and that each year around half a million undocumented migrants arrive in the EU. Irregular migration is by no means confi ned to developed countries. Asia is known to have large numbers of migrants with irregular status: up to 20 million in India alone, according to some estimates. Such people are also thought to comprise the majority of all migrants in Africa and Latin America. In addition, it is estimated that there are over 10 million migrants with irregular status in the USA. Over half the migrants with irregular status are Mexican. Despite increased efforts at border control, about 500,000 additional migrants enter the USA without authorization each year.
8. Seeking to defend their sovereignty and security, states have devoted enormous amounts of attention and resources to stem irregular migration, with limited success.
9. Irregular migration is driven by powerful and complex forces, including a lack of jobs and other livelihood opportunities in countries of origin and the demand for cheap and flexible labour in destination countries. The growth of irregular migration is also linked to a lack of regular migration opportunities, and is facilitated by criminal networks that profit from migrant smuggling and from human trafficking. The growth of diaspora communities and transnational social networks has also made it easier for people to move from one country to another in an irregular manner. In addition, many of the people who migrate in an irregular manner do so because their own countries are affected by armed conflict, political instability and economic decline.
10. Irregular migration has a number of negative consequences, some of them are:

  • It can undermine public confi dence in the integrity and effectiveness of a state’s migration and asylum policies: Irregular migration challenges the exercise of state sovereignty and can even become a threat to public security, especially when it involves corruption and organized crime. When irregular migration results in competition for scarce jobs, irregular migration can also generate xenophobic sentiments that are directed not only at migrants with irregular status, but also at established migrants, refugees and ethnic minorities.
  • It can endanger the lives of the migrants concerned: Smugglers may extract a high price from migrants and they do not always inform migrants in advance of where they will be taken. The means of transport used by migrant smugglers are often unsafe, and migrants who are travelling in this way may find themselves abandoned by their smuggler and unable to complete the journey they have paid for. Using the services of smugglers, many migrants have drowned at sea, suffocated in sealed containers or have been raped and abused while in transit. The International Centre on Migration Policy Development estimates that some 2,000 migrants die each year trying to cross the Mediterranean from Africa to Europe. According to Mexican consulates, about 400 Mexicans die trying to cross the border into the USA each year.
  • Irregular migrants can be at risk of exploitation by employers and landlords in the country of destination.
  • Female migrants with irregular status are confronted with gender-based discrimination: They are often obliged to accept the most menial informal sector jobs. The majority of migrant domestic workers and migrants employed in the sex industry are women and are at particular risk of abuse. The latter in particular also face specific health-related risks, including exposure to HIV/AIDS.
  • Irregular migrants can become victims of human trafficking: They are often forced into low-paid, insecure and degrading work from which they may find it impossible to escape and for which they receive trivial or no compensation. Migrant children with irregular migration status who are separated from their parents are a particularly vulnerable group, and may be trafficked into the sex industry. Such children are also at risk of becoming stateless. The US State Department estimates that every year, between 600–800,000 women, children and men are trafficked in every region of the world.

11. Irregular migrants are often unwilling to seek redress from authorities because they fear arrest and deportation. As a result, they do not always make use of public services to which they are entitled, for example emergency health care. In most countries, they are also barred from using the full range of services available to citizens and migrants with a regular status. In such situations, NGOs, religious bodies and other civil society institutions are obliged to provide assistance to migrants with irregular status.
12. Cultural Interrelation: We can highlight, among other works, American Gods (2017) a television series created by Bryan Fuller. In one of the episodes of this series, irregular migrants from Mexico cross a river to reach the United States.

S: 1. OED – (last access: 21 November 2018). 2. EC – (last access: 21 November 2018). 3 & 5. IOM – (last access: 21 November 2018). 6. EC – (last access: 21 November 2018). 7 & 11. UNITAR – (last access: 21 November 2018). 12. IMDb – (last access: 21 November 2018).


CR: emigrant, emigration, exodus, forced migration, human trafficking, immigrant, immigrated person, immigration, migrant, migration, refugee, statelessness, stateless person.