In 2015, the European Union (EU) registered the arrival of more than one million migrants, thrusting the European “migration crisis” to the forefront of global discussions. These arrivals stressed the EU’s systems, spurring new measures and agreements to control migration. In addition to strengthening its own controls, the EU “externalized” (or expanded) its border to geographic spaces outside of the EU itself, arranging refugee resettlement, law enforcement, and border securitization pacts with non-EU parties like Niger, Turkey, and Serbia. What has emerged is a complex enforcement regime extending beyond the physical borders of the EU—tasked to act as a barrier, a regional unifier, and a network that manages asylum requests and protects human rights.
Within this context, European governments pivoted towards the migration management philosophy of “deterrence,” believing that migrants could be discouraged from migrating if states increased risk, removed safety nets, and built barriers, echoing the “prevention through deterrence” programs that have been formal policy at the U.S.-Mexico border since 1994. In 2014, Italy halted rescue operations in the Mediterranean Sea, claiming that such missions were a pull factor. The next year, states in Southeastern Europe reinforced borders, tear gassed migrants, and engaged in push backs, hoping to discourage passage through their territory. Even Germany, arguably Europe’s most welcoming state, used social media and messaging through embassies to dissuade migrants from coming. Meanwhile, the European Commission sought to deter migrant smugglers by heightening border enforcement and promoting “an effective return policy [as] a strong deterrent,” arguing that “migrants are less likely to pay a high price to smugglers … if they know that they will be returned home quickly.” Still, migrant smuggling to the EU raked in between $3 billion and $6 billion in 2015 alone—a new record.
Deterrence policies like these frame migrations through a national security lens, and therefore produce solutions oriented around national security, almost always with the primary focus of “securing” or hardening borders. This paper questions the deterrence paradigm’s embedded assumption that augmented border controls constitute the most sensible, effective responses to increased migration at Europe’s borders. To do this, I examine how the heightening of border controls at the Serbian-Hungarian border in 2015 affected the decision-making of illegalized migrants and migrant smugglers moving through the Balkan route that year. How did the threat or the implementation of heightened border controls (e.g., border barriers, deportations, repatriations, and low-yield asylum policies) influence the trajectories of migrants and their willingness to use riskier methods (e.g., smuggling networks)?
I argue that heightened controls at the Serbian-Hungarian border in 2015 may have redirected arriving migrants but did not deter them. In reaching this thesis, I conducted a discourse analysis of quotes from migrants and migrant smugglers passing through the Balkans in 2015, pulling quotes given to news organizations and coding them for indicators of how these groups interpreted these controls and adjusted accordingly. Most migrants continued towards the EU, citing physical security, family safety, and monetary concerns as greater priorities than avoiding confrontations with state actors. At the same time, this migrant discourse analysis shows how state violence at the Serbian-Hungarian border catalyzed the formation of a common migrant identity around an intense, shared subjection to necropolitics — a term coined by theorist Achille Mbembe to describe the use of social and political power to dictate individuals’ deaths. My smuggler discourse analysis is not conclusive given the limited number of quotes available to analyze, as few smugglers were willing to have journalists quote them. Some strands, however, suggest that border militarization consolidated the supply of smugglers while expanding migrants’ demand, ultimately benefiting the operations of some smugglers.
Lastly, I found migrants articulated hypocrisies they observed between Europe’s response and its espoused values. I elaborate on this point in my conclusion to illustrate the tensions between the EU’s self-projection as a supranational project and the hyper-nationalist currents which operate and reinforce themselves through the EU’s infrastructure and borders. The union’s claims to a bounded territory and representational government compel it to reason and act like a nation-state, creating a disconnect between projection and reality that propelled a crisis of legitimacy for the EU in 2015. Ultimately, I show how securitized borders are incompatible with the human rights goals espoused by the EU, for the continuation of border deterrence can only create and perform further discrimination, displacement, and mass death.
For my analysis of migrant discourses, I identified five publications based on the depth, specificity, and local focus of their coverage: The New York Times, The Guardian, Reuters, The New Humanitarian, and Balkan Insight. Using the advanced Google search feature, I searched within each publication for every article tagged with the main keyword “migrant” and at least one of a secondary set of keywords—Serbia, Hungary, or Croatia—between March 1, 2015, and March 1, 2016. I built this timeline around the closing of the Serbian-Hungarian border, beginning three months before Hungary announced its intent to build a barrier, and concluding three months after the closure of the Balkan route in late 2015.
I ultimately pulled 252 quotes from 135 distinct speakers as represented in seventy-seven articles, though I am hesitant to say exactly how many Balkan route migration stories these organizations published during my time frame, or to say exactly how many stories did or did not quote migrants. Computer history, cache, location, and other factors can modulate the exact results returned by the advanced Google search tool even if the search parameters are identical, and publications also have their own in-house conventions which may confuse search filters. As a result, I likely missed some relevant articles. However, I feel confident that my data set is a representative sample of migrant quotes and contemporary news coverage.
Finding smuggler quotes proved more difficult than finding migrant quotes. I attempted to remedy this problem in three ways. First, I expanded my search to include The Wall Street Journal, Al Jazeera, and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFERL). Second, I included quotes from smugglers who indicated participation within a transnational network that worked at the Serbian-Hungarian border. Lastly, I searched for references outside of my time frame to smugglers whose arrests made the news within my time frame—this method yielded some quotes from Lahoo Samsooryamal, a smuggler who provided comments during his trial in 2018 for the deaths of seventy-one migrants in August 2015. All told, these expanded parameters still yielded just twenty-seven quotes. I therefore complemented these quotes with a more in-depth analysis of twenty migrant quotes which referenced smuggling in some capacity, as well as by analyzing thirteen Serbian court prosecutions of migrant smugglers as documented by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
I analyzed quotes in all data sets through a set of coding parameters which allowed me to classify, group, and quantify quotes. First, I checked each quote against an umbrella question. If a quote fulfilled this question’s criteria, I then checked it against a more detailed classification question and a set of keywords. For example, an umbrella question might allow me to determine whether a quote references border controls, while the secondary classification questions and keywords would then allow me to determine whether that quote communicated an undeterred, deterred, ambivalent, or indeterminate position in relation to those controls. I have included the umbrella questions here as a reference point.
Umbrella questions for migrant quotes:
Border controls: Does this statement directly reference a state migration control? (Including, but not limited to, walls, fences, barriers, police brutality, pushbacks, denied asylum claims, deportations and/or fingerprinting?)
Motivation (push factor): Does this statement give a reason why the speaker left their country of origin and/or why they migrated?
Motivation (pull factor): Does this statement show what the speaker is looking for in a destination country and/or why they have chosen their specific destination?
Methods: Does this statement discuss the resources, information networks, or methods a migrant has used to progress to a specific point in their migratory journey?
Interactions: Does this statement reflect an interaction with a non-migrant actor on the migrant trail?
Narratives of Movement: Does this statement reveal why the speaker believes their continued migratory journey is necessary and achievable, even in the face of border violence?
Narratives of Europe: Does the speaker identify characteristics they believe to be inherent to Europe and/or discuss how Europe has treated them, met their expectations, or underperformed to their expectations?
Narratives of Awareness: Does the speaker make a statement addressing communal, political, or geopolitical situations transcending their own immediate circumstances?
For smuggler quotes:
Border controls: Does this statement directly reference a state migration control? (Including, but not limited to, walls, fences, barriers, police brutality, pushbacks, denied asylum claims, deportations and/or fingerprinting?)
Motivation: Does this statement reveal why the speaker works as a smuggler?
Responsibility: Does this statement reveal who the speaker believes to be the responsible party when death, injury, or other unintended consequences occur during a smuggling operation?
Recruitment: Does this statement reveal how the speaker finds clients?
Network: Does this statement reveal how and with whom the speaker works?
Narratives: Does this statement reveal a certain narrative or justification that the speaker tells about themselves and their work?
For migrant quotes about smugglers:
Price: Does the speaker mention a price paid to smugglers or spent on the journey?
Relationship: Does the statement reveal how the speaker knows or came to hire a smuggler?
Knowledge: Does the statement indicate that the speaker is aware of the possibility of death on the smuggling route, or does it reference incidences of migrant deaths?
State Programs: Does the statement make a reference to state programs or transfers?
Interactions: Does the statement reference how a smuggler, or smugglers, have treated the speaker?
Narratives: Does this statement reveal a certain narrative that the speaker uses to justify their decision to use or not use a smuggler?
In considering both illegalized migrants and human smugglers, I do not mean to equate the two—a conflation which has become all too common in the popular imagination and media—and propagate an inaccurate and stereotypical association between migrants and immorality. However, I consider quotes from both groups because considering their discourses in tandem provides a more complete picture of how border controls impact migrants’ trajectories, which are determined concurrently by the information networks, lived experiences, and decisions of migrants and smugglers alike.
Literature Review: The Creation and Subversion of Borders
Before I turn to the results of my discourse analysis, I will consider how the scholarly literature has conceptualized borders, migration, and migrants’ decision-making. Borders are popularly thought of as physical entities dividing sovereign nation-states. However, it is important here to engage with literature theorizing borders as existing beyond their geographic demarcations, since this paper explores how actors engage with the threat and the discourse of border securitization. This school of literature identifies various processes of border construction and enforcement. David Newman and Anssi Paasi note that “state boundaries are equally social, political and discursive constructs, not just static naturalized categories located between states.” In this sense, borders are reproduced through education, media, memorials, and religion. Etienne Balibar recognizes borders as “polysemic,” showing how borders are perceived by and affect people differently based on their positionalities. Similarly, Harald Bauder employs the idea of “aspect-seeing,” asserting that different meanings of the border arise from “both experience and anticipation.” In this sense, a border’s physical line across geographic space represents only one border aspect, as border control has been exported to spaces (airports, workplaces, consumer arenas) within the interior.
Recent contributions have emphasized the expansion of border infrastructure accompanying this dispersion. Todd Miller’s Border Patrol Nation traces the evolution of the US Border Patrol from a small 8,500-person agency in 2001 to a mushrooming agency nearly three times that size. Meanwhile, A. Naomi Paik’s Bans, Walls, Raids, Sanctuarytheorizes deportation as an extension of the border, an internalized “second line of defense.” Harsha Walia, in her book Border and Rule, notes how EU leaders have exported border policing to places like Morocco, Libya, Niger, Sudan, and Turkey, piloting “transit processing centers,” training militias and border guards, and generally trying to halt migrants before they reach Europe’s official borders. Also important in this discussion is the way authoritarians, such as Libya’s former leader Muammar al-Qaddafi and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, have leveraged Europe’s fear of migrants to bargain for monetary and geopolitical concessions. In this way, the vast growth of the militarized and high-tech border has accompanied the dispersion of the border into social life, providing a number of opportunities for exploitation of the border in both international and domestic political contexts.
Building upon this understanding of borders as layered, externalized and internalized “boundary sets,” I turn to a related discussion on the purpose and consequences of borders in contemporary geopolitics. A current debate contends with the relevance of borders in a world vastly transformed by globalization. Some scholars, such as Kenichi Ohmae, argue that borders are decreasing in relevance as regional integration schemes, international organizations, and transnational crises proliferate in an increasingly interconnected and interdependent world. Others, such as Saskia Sassen and Peter Andreas, assert that borders have not become irrelevant but that globalization has led governments to make them selectively permeable. This permeability is sometimes portrayed as the byproduct, if not the goal, of a capitalist system that globalizes capital for profit yet restricts labor for exploitation. Paik casts the border as a buffer zone protecting wealthy countries from the consequences of colonialism and neoliberalism. This is also the thesis of Walia’s Border and Rule, in which she argues that the border is best understood “as a key method of imperial state formation, hierarchical social ordering, labor control, and xenophobic nationalism.” Other scholars expand on the societal ordering aspect of this definition, understanding borders as tools for creating shared identities, homogenizing society, and maintaining the “otherness” of those outside. With all of these purposes in mind, we can return to Bauder’s concept of aspect-seeing, which allows us to see the border as a multi-faceted “boundary set” that regulates capital, labor, culture, identity, and movement all at once with different levels of efficiency and intentionality.
Yet the question remains: How effective are borders in practice at regulating these boundaries? Some scholars maintain that forms of transnational organized crime (TOC) and irregular migration are at least partially deterred by stricter border controls, though I did not come across any literature which established border deterrence as the sole or even primary determinant of migration patterns. More commonly, scholars have argued that stricter border controls are largely ineffective. Variations on the argument include that stricter border controls are largely performative, only bolster potential profits for smugglers and TOC, and/or do nothing to address the push and pull factors that motivate illegalized migration and labor exploitation. Reports from law enforcement agencies themselves, such as the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), have even found links between increased enforcement and increased profits for illicit border actors.
These discussions could be properly understood as “macro” explanations of migration— the state policies or global economic changes that affect broad migration patterns. Yet, how do individuals consider these structures, patterns, and risks when deciding whether and how to migrate? In cases of “forced” or “involuntary” migration, scholars often emphasize physical endangerment, including conflict, persecution, and generalized violence, which expels individuals from origin countries. Individuals who migrate due to these causes are often semantically and legally classified as refugees, or internally displaced persons if they do not cross a national border. Other bodies of literature emphasize economic deprivation at the community or family unit level and economic inequality between countries. Authors like Paik, Walia, and Sassen point here to transnational capitalism, which drives resource extraction and poverty in origin countries. Simultaneously, wage inequities between destination and origin countries create both a demand and a pull for immigrant labor, while punitive immigration laws serve to discipline and intimidate that labor. Meanwhile, other authors focus on family reunification, diasporic identities, and communication networks.
Attempts to classify migration causes merit several caveats. First, migrants are often motivated by overlapping and not easily definable reasons. Antje Missbach, investigating the relationship between Australian deterrence policies and the actions of migrants en route to Australia via Indonesia, shows how migrants oscillate between referencing family reunification, economic security, and other motivations as reasons for their migrations. Relatedly, a growing field of literature problematizes distinguishing voluntary from involuntary migration. Ottonelli and Torresi note that attempts to formalize this dichotomy often function to separate worthy from unworthy migrants. Another problematic distinction is between illegal and legal migrants; most migrants, at some point in their journey, could be defined as both.Migrants seeking asylum (legal), for example, might still utilize smugglers (illegal). Martin van der Velde and Ton van Naerssen establish such a framework for migratory decision-making, emphasizing the flexibility of migratory trajectories, the blurring of lines between origin, transit, and destination countries, and the effects of mental, communal, and economic dynamics on migrants’ various serial decisions while migrating.
The questions of how and why migrants use smugglers, as well as how and why migrant smugglers operate and see themselves, are more underdeveloped in the literature. Paolo Campana and Lorraine Gelsthorpe provide some insight into the former question, finding that migrants decide upon a smuggler by cross-referencing information gathered through social media and community networks. Sue Hoffman finds a similar cost-benefit framework and cooperative nature present in smuggler-migrant relationships. Meanwhile, Abdullah Mohammadi, Ruta Nimkar, and Emily Savage find that some Afghan smugglers conceive of themselves as Samaritan actors, believing their work to be in service to their community. Relationships between migrants and smugglers often originate in shared lived experiences, either because smugglers were once migrants or because migrants have preexisting relationships with their future smuggler in origin communities. While more research is needed to understand the smuggler-migrant relationship, the literature suggests that smuggling services fit into the rational, serial, and changeable model of migratory journeys I constructed earlier.
In conclusion, borders act as delineators of difference in both physical and social senses, disproportionately restricting mobility for those predisposed to migration due to violence, family hardships, economic deprivation, and other factors. Migrants process these hardships and border realities in logical, serial, and ever-changing ways, using community resources (including smuggling networks) to advance their cause. My discourse analysis contends directly with several of the most pressing arguments within this literature, such as the impact of borders, the motivations of migrants, and the discourses propagated by both migrants and migrant smugglers.
Zooming In: The Serbian-Hungarian Border in 2015
To contextualize my discourse analysis, I will quickly outline how the EU “migration crisis” manifested in the Balkan region, especially at the Serbian-Hungarian border. Prior to 2015, the Balkans were not a prominent route for Asian and African migrants. Migrants to Europe in 2014, who numbered fewer than half of those who traveled in 2015, primarily moved through Egypt and Libya before crossing the central Mediterranean. Growing instability in Libya caused Syrians to pivot towards crossing into Greece from Turkey in 2015, a change which altered regional migration dynamics holistically. At the start of 2015, transit from Greece through Macedonia and Serbia into Hungary was partially aided by state actors. Macedonia and Serbia issued migrants seventy-two-hour transit visas, while state and NGO actors chartered transport vehicles to move migrants directly between border crossings and asylum registration points. For a time, this “formalized corridor” facilitated the movement of migrants from Greece to Hungary in under a week.However, on June 17, 2015, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán of Hungary announced his country’s intention to erect a physical wall on its border with Serbia, an announcement which triggered border controls in preceding Balkan states as the fear of getting “stuck” with large groups of migrants began to permeate state leaderships. Nonetheless, migrants continued moving north as construction began, setting new records for daily arrivals into Hungary in August and September as they tried to outpace the closure.
As these numbers rose, Hungary began in August 2015 to deny and repatriate all asylum-seekers back across its borders, declaring Serbia, Macedonia, and Greece to be “safe countries of transit.” Migrants already in Hungary camped at Budapest’s Keleti station, hoping to board trains to Austria. Meanwhile, rights groups reported increasing police brutality and forced fingerprinting of migrants to register them within the EU’s Dublin III Regulation system, which facilitated the return of migrants to the first EU country to which they arrived (usually Greece). On August 27, authorities discovered seventy-one dead migrants in a smuggler’s abandoned truck near the Austrian-Hungarian border, highlighting the increasingly dangerous methods migrants used due to Hungary’s policies. Nonetheless, Orbán finished his fence on September 15, 2015, and announced he would extend it along Hungary’s Romanian and Croatian borders. The closure caused a last-second rush with groups and even some families separated as some but not others managed to cross in the last minutes of the border being open. The unsuccessful were left stranded in Serbian border towns before some forged a route west to Croatia. A similar process ensued as Croatia and Slovenia announced themselves overwhelmed, leading them to institute controls and push backs of their own.
Though EU officials denounced Orbán’s policies over the course of summer and autumn 2015, Orbán integrated elements of existing EU enforcement frameworks into his own policies, including the Dublin III Regulation and EU safe third-country concepts. Additionally, Frontex, the EU’s member state-sourced Border and Coast Guard Agency, conducted around fifteen Joint Operations (JOs) or Joint Return Operations (JROs) in cooperation with Hungarian border enforcement in 2015. Frontex conducted five JOs with Serbia and a total of forty-three JOs with twelve non-EU states in 2015—a testament to EU border externalization.
Hungary’s regime seemed an outlier in mid-2015, but states moved towards similar models as the year progressed. In November 2015, Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia, and Slovenia introduced laws which allowed passage only to Syrian, Iraqi, and Afghan migrants. The policy led to violent pushbacks at the Greek-Macedonian border, where some migrants protested by sewing their lips shut. Meanwhile, Slovenia and Austria constructed barriers of their own, the latter a notable reintroduction of intra-Schengen border policing, while countries like Slovakia and Poland sued their way out of previous resettlement agreements. The year’s events culminated in negotiations between the EU and Turkey, resulting in a March 2016 agreement where the EU agreed to resettle one Syrian refugee from Turkey for every Syrian refugee the EU repatriated to Turkey. The agreement, which also provided Turkey with several million in EU aid, reoriented the focal point of EU border enforcement from the Balkans to the Aegean Sea.
For the purposes of this paper, 2015 presents a rich case study. Locating migration on the Balkan route within this era of tightening and interlocking border regimes allows us to parse how migrants interpreted state measures and adjusted accordingly. Although my project focuses on the Serbian-Hungarian border, the closure of other borders during this time period, such as the Greek-Macedonian border, would provide an equally insightful look into interpretations of border controls.
Analysis: Representations of Balkan Route Migrants in the Mainstream Press
The scale of the migrations and brutality of the border closures in the 2015 Balkans enticed many journalists to visit. As I scanned over two hundred articles for migrants quoted at or near the Serbian-Hungarian border, a few recurrent patterns in this coverage emerged. First, in the articles I scanned, migrants were more commonly talked about than quoted directly. The proportion varied by publication but was particularly skewed at Reuters (eight of thirty-two scanned articles quoted migrants) and Balkan Insight (eight of forty-one scanned articles quoted migrants). Instead, journalists often interviewed politicians, humanitarian agency representatives, aid volunteers, truck drivers, construction workers, border guards, and local residents on their plans for or opinions about migrants. Short pieces summarizing the many migration conferences convened by European leaders at the time were also very common. The result was the dominance of state voices over migrant voices in media discourses about migrants.
Next, media rhetoric to describe migrants was often dehumanizing. Across publications, migrants were variably referred to as a “flood,” a “backlog,” a “logjam,” an “influx,” and/or a “surge” which threatened to “overwhelm,” “break through,” or “clog” national borders—lest those borders be “seal[ed]” and the migrants “diverted” and “manage[d],” denied access to any “back door to Europe.” This vernacular recalls the imagery of water, positioning migrants as an indivisible and impersonal force of nature. Migrants become a conglomerate moving without consciousness or control, threatening—if not destined—to displace and drown local populations. In tandem, Europe is imagined as a building, complete with doors and tangible entry points, whose physical integrity is threatened by the uncontrollable elements (migrants). This imagery infers the presence of a population insidethe building (native-born Europeans) whose existence is in peril. If the “back door”—that is, the border—doesn’t hold, they risk drowning. This imagery reinforces the nation-state’s narrative that strong borders are imperative to the security of the nation, even though arriving migrants in 2015 represented 0.29% of the EU’s population.
This imagery also appears in descriptions of migrant groups which render them observable, distant subjects. The following example from The New York Times is illustrative but not unique; the article as a whole speaks of an expectant “tension” and a “growing stream” of people at the border, again recalling water’s displacive tendencies, before delivering the following description of Hungarian police firing tear gas at migrants:
All of a sudden, an invisible, noxious gas began to pour into the crowd from the Hungarian side. In a panic, the people nearest the gate began to scramble backward, pushing people aside as they flailed, tears streaming from their eyes. Children grabbed for their parents. Some tossed oranges and apples they had been carrying back at the riot police, ineffectually. People ran into one another, tripped, fell.
People grabbed for bottles of water offered by volunteers along the roadside, slapping it onto their faces and trying to wash the gas out of their eyes and hair.
The crowd collapsed into chaos and ran back into Serbia. Then, the crowd re-formed and slowly moved forward again. And again, there was a gas attack.
The portrayal lends an animalistic quality to the crowd, as if they were a herd of zoo animals momentarily dispersed, resorting in their individual forms to panic, retaliation, and chaos before reforming as a collective mass. The article does later quote migrants, but at this moment they are sketched from a distance. This point carries salience when contrasted, as I will do shortly, with one of the most common sentiments communicated in migrant quotes—the repeated, direct expression by migrants that they are “humans” and not “animals.”
Analysis: Migrants’ Life or Death Decisions at the Border
Through scanning more than two hundred articles in The New York Times, The Guardian, The New Humanitarian, Reuters, and Balkan Insight, I identified seventy-seven articles which quoted migrants, from which I pulled 252 quotes from 135 distinct speakers—the data set for my discourse analysis. Based on this set’s mode age, gender, nationality, date, and location, the “average” migrant for this analysis becomes a twenty-three-year-old Syrian male attempting to cross the Serbian-Hungarian border on September 18, 2015, three days after Hungary closed its border with Serbia. Using the coding indicators outlined in my methodology, I then analyzed these quotes for how migrants communicated their motivations, justifications, experiences, and interpretations of border controls.
Put simply, my discourse analysis suggests that most migrants were not deterred by heightened border controls or the threat of heightened border controls at the Serbian-Hungarian border between March 1, 2015, and March 1, 2016. I coded eighty-eight statements as discussing border controls in some capacity, based on whether he quote explicitly referenced a border control—including but not limited to walls, fences, barriers, police brutality, pushbacks, denied asylum claims, deportations, detention and/or fingerprinting—or verbs of movement—including go, go through, continue, return, go back, stay, or stuck. Forty-one of these statements were “indeterminate” in that they constituted static references to border controls, conveying solely occurrences without hinting at a migrant’s plan of action. However, of the remaining forty-seven statements, I coded thirty-four as undeterred, five as deterred, and eight as ambivalent.
I coded statements as undeterred when speakers expressed an intention to circumvent, avoid, or otherwise bypass mentioned migration controls. Keywords included forward motion verbs (go, go through, go past, continue, etc.), positive conjugations of modal verbs (I will, I must, I shall, etc.), or negative conjugations of modal verbs combined with reverse motion verbs (I cannot go back, I will not return, etc.). The following are examples of undeterred statements:
“This wall, we will not accept it,” Mohamed Hussein, M, Syrian, age not provided. Serbia-Hungary. 06/22/2015.
“In Afghanistan, life is not safe, and every human who wants a safe life will make a hole in that wall, or find another way,” Yama Nayab, M, Afghan, age not provided. Serbia-Hungary. 06/22/2015.
“I just want peace. And I’ll keep going even if I have to cross another sea to find it.” Amjad el-Omairi, M, Iraqi, 40. Serbia-Croatia. 09/17/2015.
“This is an important border crossing for Serbia and Hungary. They won’t leave it closed for long. I’m ready to camp here for a month.” Issa Issa, M, Syrian, age not provided. Serbia-Hungary. 09/17/2015.
Conversely, deterred statements featured a speaker who indicated a desire to be returned to their country of origin, expressed the wish they had not migrated, or—in one case—expressed a desire to die. I tried here to determine if controls eroded the fortitude of migrants or led them to assess the risk of continuing as higher than the risk of reversing, the latter being the goal of deterrence policies. I coded just five deterred statements, three of which occurred at Keleti train station in Budapest after days of police brutality, forced fingerprinting, and resource deprivation against migrants camped there in early September 2015.
“In Europe, they’re treating us like ISIS did, beating us up. Either take me to Germany or just send me back. I don’t care anymore.” Ahmad Saadoun, M, Iraqi, 27. Hungary. 09/02/2015.
“There’s no way we can go anywhere. Even by smuggling. Apparently they have strengthened security on the border. Half of us here have [train] tickets, and we can’t go anywhere.” Kanwar Dali, M, Syrian, 26. Hungary. 09/02/2015.
“Kill me, kill me now.” Anonymous, M, Syrian, age not provided. Hungary. 09/03/2015.
“I don’t want to stay. Let me off. I want to go back to Syria.” Anonymous, F, Syrian, age not provided. Hungary. 09/04/2015.
“I wanted to go to Sweden to continue my studies of banking and finances. But now I would rather go home than stay in such horrific conditions.” Mohammad Laban, M, Palestinian, 22. Croatia-Slovenia. 10/21/2015.
I coded eight statements as ambivalent. Statements here were from migrants who expressed they had not decided on their next move, that they were waiting to see how border controls affected others before continuing, or that they had resigned themselves to any outcome.
“If we’re caught, we’re caught.” Ahmad Majid, M, Syrian, 30. Serbia-Hungary. 08/31/2015.
“We will stay here until we hear that Croatia is a safe route.” Kawa Uso, M, Kurd, age not provided. Serbia-Hungary. 09/19/2015.
“I have been here for two days, but I think I will spend a couple of months here and then return to Nigeria. I really don’t know what will happen with me.” M’Pak, M, Nigerian, 25. Serbia. 11/04/2015.
While my analysis found that the majority of migrants were not deterred by Hungary’s border controls, relying on quotes given to news outlets prevents several potential biases. First, journalists often talked with migrants at or in near proximity to physical border crossings — migrants congregated at these locations have likely already decided to cross, meaning they will likely express undeterred sentiments. In addition, undeterred migrants, with higher levels of morale, are perhaps more likely to speak with journalists than deterred, discouraged migrants. At the same time, the physical border is the site of greatest state violence, and my data set also includes quotes from a wide range of locations, including camps, transit stops, and urban centers well within the Serbian, Hungarian, and Croatian interiors. The size, geographic diversity, and temporal diversity of my data set—wide enough to capture, for example, periods of both open crossing and extreme repression at the same border crossing—cover a wide enough range of migrant experiences to mitigate potential biases.
Similarly, given that a quote represents a static utterance at a singular point in time, it is impossible to know whether or not “deterred” migrants actually reversed their trajectories, or whether “undeterred” migrants were, at some later point, deterred. However, my thesis correlates with border crossing statistics, as crossings into Hungary, in fact, increased between June 2015 and September 2015 even as the construction of Hungary’s wall was underway. This is not to say that border controls, once implemented, have no effect on preventing the entry of physical bodies into a territory. By late 2015, Hungary’s wall had reduced crossings from the thousands to just a few dozen per day.However, migrants continued moving north; the final destination was the EU, not Hungary, and so the route pivoted to Croatia. If Hungary were the specific destination, it stands to reason migrants would continue to pursue alternative routes of entry into Hungary instead. As a case in point, by October 2015, several hundred migrants had redirected to Russia and biked through the Arctic Circle into Norway.
To get to and around Balkan borders, migrants used a variety of methods. Mostly, migrants relied on information from other migrants. A formalized information network, passed along via word of mouth, social media, and instant messaging, accompanied the formalization of the Balkan route, allowing migrants to adapt based on the experiences of preceding migrants. In The New Odyssey, Patrick Kingsley details how these networks became so specific as to recommend exact hotels, roads, dirt paths, and fence gaps. In total, I coded twenty-eight statements referencing the use of word-of-mouth information in deciding trajectories. This became especially evident when the route shifted from Hungary to Croatia in mid-September 2015.
“Our friends told us not to go to Hungary, because they would put you in prison for three years if you tried to cross the border.” Daban Sabir, M, Iraqi, 25. Serbia-Croatia. 09/16/2015.
“We just heard about this [Croatian] route. We thought we should check it out immediately, see if it is a route or not.” Ali Ahmed, M, Syrian, age not provided. Serbia-Croatia. 09/19/2015.
“Are you sure? This is the route they told me to come.” Alaa Eddine, M, Syrian, age not provided. Serbia-Croatia. 09/19/2015.
Migrants also relied on family connections and, occasionally, state transfers, such as when Hungary chartered transport for migrants to its border with Austria. Seventeen quotes referenced using or considering smugglers, though Europol estimated in 2016 that nearly 90% of migrants en route to the EU used smugglers at some point. The next section of my paper dives deeper into smuggling dynamics, so I will not elaborate here beyond saying that migrant quotes show that relationships with smugglers were both cooperative and abusive, with news of smuggling tragedies quickly making their way through migrant networks.
During their travels through the Balkans, migrants interacted with a variety of state, criminal, and civilian actors. Experiences of state violence were very common. Sixty-six quotes communicated such an experience, far eclipsing experiences of state assistance (fifteen) or violence at the hands of smugglers (eight). State violence included physical, psychological, or material harm at the hands of state actors, including beatings, tear gassing, detentions, family separations, and the weaponization of time and resources (withholding food, indefinite application wait times, etc.). Hungarian police at the Serbian border or Keleti train station were the most common culprit. I also coded thirteen statements as communicating an experience with generalized violence, wherein speakers decried poor treatment without implicating a specific actor. Meanwhile, interactions with NGOs were rare. One speaker referenced the Red Cross and one speaker referenced an unnamed group which handed out supplies at Budapest’s Nyugati station. Some migrants interacted with private citizens, who on seven occasions assisted—with food, a charger, and, in one instance, a trip from Hungary to Austria—and on three occasions took advantage of migrants through robbery or scamming.
These categories provide insight into the how, but to understand why migrants might choose to continue their journeys even in the face of border controls, I also coded for motivation—both push factors, or reasons why migrants left their origin countries, and pull factors, or reasons why migrants were attracted to the destination countries they aimed to reach. Of the forty-nine statements which I coded as expressing a “push factor” motivation, fear for physical safety was the most common (thirty-one). Many migrants left their country because they feared for their lives amid conflicts or at the hands of governments and militant groups, including ISIS/Daesh (nine references), the Taliban (two), Boko Haram (one), and al-Shabaab (one). Family safety, persecution, and poverty were present but lesser concerns. Many of these factors, however, coalesced into a generalized feeling of hopelessness. I identified statements for this tricky but telling category by searching for quotes which positioned staying in one’s country as equivalent to dying. Of the eleven statements which I placed in this category, many communicated that “lives” and “futures” were not only untenable but nonexistent in origin countries:
“We didn’t have a lot of options [about leaving]. For us it was really a case of the famous Shakespearian phrase, ‘To be or not be’. We didn’t come here because we were choosy.” Korh, M, Syrian, 22. Serbia. 08/19/2015.
“There is no life in Aleppo.” Mahmoud Otri, M, Syrian, 23. Hungary-Austria. 08/30/2015.
“Syrians think they are dying in Syria. So whether they die there or on the way to Europe, it’s the same thing.”Mohamed el-Haiba, M, Syrian, 23. Croatia-Hungary. 09/18/2015.
“Better to die quickly, than slowly in Iraq.” Muhammad Basher, M, Iraqi, age not provided. Serbia-Croatia. 10/31/2015.
“There is no future in Afghanistan.” Sayid Karim Hashimi, M, Afghan, 23. Serbia-Croatia. 10/31/2015.
Mirroring these expressions, the most common pull factor I coded was a category I called “dignity”—the opportunity to reclaim this humanity in a new country, to separate life from dying through self-actualization. Keywords for this classification included: decent life, new life, regular life, chance, opportunity, hope, dignity, like humans. Of the twenty-nine statements I coded as communicating a pull factor, I marked twelve with this category. Examples include:
“Wherever I find a safe place, a country that accepts me and gives me a chance, I will start my life there.” Yama Nayab, M, Afghan, age not provided. Serbia-Hungary. 06/22/2015.
“I want to live a regular life. No more torture and no more police with electric batons and water cannons.”Mohammed, M, Iraqi, age not provided. Serbia. 08/19/2015.
“See what we did? We threw away all of our clothes and property in Syria to get a better life for our kids, to teach them how to live — not how to beg.” Abu al-Majd, M, Syrian, age not provided. Hungary. 09/06/2015.
Other common pull factors included economic opportunity (eight), safety (seven), education (seven), and family reunification (five).
Beyond these material objectives, I also coded for what I call “narratives of movement”—statements which reveal why a speaker believed their migratory journey both necessary and just, even in the face of border violence. Within this category, I coded overlapping narratives which interacted to convince migrants they must continue migrating. Of the thirty-one statements I coded as relevant to this category, thirteen communicated a “no other choice” narrative. This classification was coded if a migrant expressed through explicit terms (no choice, no option) or verbs of compulsion (have to, must) that migrating was the only option available.
“What else can we do?” Reen, F, Syrian, age not provided. Hungary-Austria. 09/04/2015.
“I don’t believe they would do such a thing. I will continue on the same route. My wife and children are already in Germany. What else can I do?” Bashar Makansi, M, Syrian, 47. Serbia. 09/15/2015.
“There is a war back home, what choice do we have? I did want to live in Syria.” Wajd Abu Sayed, M, Syrian, age not provided. Croatia-Slovenia. 10/31/2015.
Four speakers expressed that news of potential border closures convinced them that they risked squandering their “last chance” to reach Europe if they stayed in their home countries.
“From all we heard on the news, this was our last chance to reach Europe, so we left in a hurry.” Latifa Shaab, F, Syrian, 21. Croatia-Slovenia. 10/17/2015.
“It was now or never. So I decided to go before the window of opportunity closes.” Hani al-Karaa, M, Syrian, 24. Croatia-Slovenia. 10/17/2015.
Additionally, four speakers cited “sunk costs,” conveying that their monetary and temporal investments in their migration to date made the cost of abandoning their journey too high and that they had “nothing left to lose.”
“Now we are here, we have taken the plunge, we have to go on.” Emmanuel Bitjoka Njom, M, Cameroonian, 41. Serbia. 08/29/2015.
“I don’t have anything to lose, so I fear nothing. I’ve been thinking about leaving for two years. But for a long time I thought: there is still hope [of peace], I will wait.” Zahraa Daoud, F, Syrian, 23. Serbia-Croatia. 09/18/2015.
“We are afraid that they will close the border now. But we don’t fear terror much anymore. Every village in Syria is worse than Paris… we don’t have much to lose.” Mossa, M, Syrian, 17. Serbia. 11/17/2015.
In explaining their perseverance on the migrant trail, some migrants referenced their national character or their faith. With the former, five migrants expressed that experiences or character traits they believed inherent to their national communities—e.g., the ingenuity of Syrians or the violent realities of Palestinian life—compelled them forward. With the latter, four migrants placed their journeys in the hands of cosmic forces—God, hope, fate, or destiny.
These narratives show that, for some, securitized borders incentivize migration. Conditions in origin countries combined with the psychological, monetary, and temporal costs imposed by hard borders amplify compulsion and perceived lack of choice, prolonging migrants’ journeys and heightening the consequences of ceasing one’s migration. Abstractions of national community or faith can be seen as responses to these realities of violence and deprivation. These expressions, though certainly genuine in many cases, are also a defense mechanism. The migrant’s dissociation from responsibility for their perilous status positions hardship as a reason to continue migrating, seeing as options are limited and perseverance is predetermined.
This dissociation, however, does not mean migrants are ignorant of their situations. I also coded for awareness, defined as when a speaker made a statement addressing communal, political, or geopolitical situations transcending their own immediate circumstances. Fifty-one statements made political references, implicating specific state and non-state actors, alluding to world events or migration policies, and/or proposing political solutions.
“[The Hungarians are] not going to solve migration like this. They need to solve the real problem and get rid of Bashar al-Assad and Isis.” Mohamed Hussein, M, Syrian, age not provided. Serbia-Hungary. 06/22/2015.
“Nyírbátor is Hungary’s Guantánamo. They chained and handcuffed us, and gave us expired food.” Vladislav, M, Ukrainian, age not provided. Hungary. 07/08/2015.
“We want you to talk to Ban Ki-moon and ask him why he isn’t helping us.” Ahmed Saadoun, M, Iraqi, 27. Hungary. 09/02/2015.
Meanwhile, twenty-two statements pulled language from human rights discourse, with migrants pointing out how state actions violated their rights to freedom, justice, fairness, tolerance, dignity, and movement, as well as to more immediate material rights including shelter, food or water.
“We are sleeping in trash. We don’t know what to do. It’s a matter of human rights. If they don’t do something about the situation, we are going to start walking.” Ramadan Mustafa, M, Syrian, 23. Hungary. 09/02/2015.
“I am worried that Germany may send us back home. That would not be fair. Afghanistan is in the same situation as Syria … The Taliban killed my brother and they will kill me too if I return.” Ali Hussani, M, Afghan, 35. Croatia-Slovenia. 10/26/2015.
Accompanying this discourse, migrants asserted their humanity in explicit terms, recognizing that their status as subjects of extreme violence threatened to relegate them to the status of subhuman. Four speakers compared their treatment to that of “animals,” and three speakers used a variation of the phrase “we are human(s).”
“Hungarians look after animals more than people, they treat dogs and cats better.” Jamal al-Deenberra, M, Syrian, 23. Hungary. 09/05/2015.
“They don’t want us to pass. Why? We are humans. We are Syrians, and there is a war in our country that even we don’t really understand.” Zahraa Daoud, F, Syrian, 23. Serbia-Croatia. 09/18/2015.
Two speakers expressed they were “not criminals” and one speaker said migrants were “not terrorists.” The assertion is that migrants’ lack of criminality should protect them, intuiting that their inhumane treatment would be more valid were they actually “criminals” or “terrorists.”
“I just don’t understand. We come from a country that has been torn apart by war. We’re not criminals and we don’t want to sabotage anything.” Marwan, M, Syrian, 19. Hungary-Austria. 09/05/2015.
“We are refugees, not criminals, why are you doing this?” Anonymous migrant. Croatia-Slovenia. 11/02/2015.
“They need to check the people somehow… take fingerprints… do whatever they need to separate us, because we are not terrorists… we just want to start a new life from the beginning.” Sadam Ahmed, M, Afghan, 19. Serbia. 11/17/2015.
These statements reflect the understanding that states reserve the right to inflict violence upon individuals they deem deviant—those othered into states of exception, to borrow Giorgio Agamben’s term. Migrants’ reassertions of humanity constitute attempts to escape exception; claims to refugee status here are notable, as they demonstrate an understanding of refugeedom as a legal status within human rights discourse that should protect those who fall under it.
In commenting on politics and human rights, migrants often discussed how Europe had met or betrayed their expectations. Thirty-four speakers expressed that Europe’s progressive reputation had acted as a type of pull factor, a phenomenon I coded when speakers tied liberal democratic values, namely human rights language, to their descriptions of Europe. Speakers here positioned Europe as a beacon, an ultimate destination where self-actualization became possible.
“I want to go to Germany. I don’t know what will happen when we leave Belgrade but I will find out. Germany is the only place I want to go to.” Zaid, M, Syrian, 31. Serbia. 09/11/2015.
“I am applying for asylum in Croatia for the third time. I know Croatian laws and I know that I have the right to it… every night I go to bed and imagine that asylum. I know I’ll get it, it’s just a matter of time.” Rory, M, Jamaican, age not provided. Croatia. 09/17/2015.
“EU is good, we are not afraid of EU. Young Afghani people who want to work can make it there. They have respect for people, I believe in that.” Hikmat, M, Afghan, age not provided. Serbia. 11/17/2015.
Fifteen statements expressed that speakers’ treatment at the hands of European states had shattered this image, which sometimes happened concurrently with the speaker tying liberal democratic values to what Europe should be, in some cases bordering on Orientalist descriptions that placed Europe as morally superior to other regions. Speakers often expressed frustration, surprise, and anger that Europe could treat them so poorly. In at least two cases, speakers interpreted “European” not as a demonym but as a value set which could be appropriated and learned, asserting their ability to “act” more European than the Europeans who had abused them.
“This is the so-called developed Europe? It’s supposed to be different to the fucking Arab world.” Mouti, M, Syrian, 50. Hungary. 09/07/2015.
“We only want to work and have a decent life. We know how to act like Europeans and we know European values, as do most of the educated people from Syria.” Korh, M, Syrian, 22. Serbia. 08/19/2015.
“Once I said to a policeman: ‘I am more a Croat than you are, since I obey and respect the laws of this country.’ I want to be a proper citizen. Is this the way Croatia treats me?” Rory, M, Jamaican, age not provided. Croatia. 09/17/2015.
These statements reflect the rhetorical work of the European project, which has positioned itself as a promoter of human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, rule of law, and human rights—the values enumerated in the EU charter. The clashing of these values with the realities of creating and maintaining borders produced a crisis of legitimacy which migrants were quick to articulate, internalizing and reproducing EU rhetoric to justify their cause and condemn European states’ hypocrisies.
Lastly, migrants in my data set commonly cast themselves as part of a collective “we.” Seventy-seven statements reflected this identification, using the first-person plural even when referring to individual opinions or experiences.
“This wall, we will not accept it,” Mohamed Hussein, M, Syrian, age not provided. Serbia-Hungary. 06/22/2015.
“I do not know why we are here, it’s terrible. I’m afraid my father will die. I do not understand why this is happening to us, but I know that we are nothing – less than zero.” Mahtab, F, Afghan, age not provided. Hungary. 08/28/2015.
“I am scared, everybody is scared. We are worried they will close the border, but we are also worried about winter. We must get where we are going before the snows fall.” Ali Lolo, M, Syrian, 35. Serbia-Croatia. 10/18/2015.
Ironically, this self-identification mirrors state and media discourses which casted migrants as an inseparable whole and could be read in part as an internalization of these discourses. However, I argue this collectivizing more so represents the coalescing of an identity around the shared experience of violence, deprivation, and near death—the shared identity of a population subjected to an extreme form of necropolitics. Fleeing countries where violent actors have destroyed “life” and “future[s],” migrants arrive at Europe’s borders only to be treated as “less than zero,” as “animals.” These forces produce a visceral experience of limbo, of dying slowly, where migration becomes the only way to transfigure from half-dead to fully human.
This analysis can thus be read at several levels of complexity. At its most basic, it shows that migrants were not deterred by border controls at the Serbian-Hungarian border because personal motivations superseded fears of border violence. At a more abstract level, it shows that border violence amplified feelings of desperation and compulsion, allowing for the coalescence of a migrant body politic around shared experiences as necropolitical subjects. Stories of national identity, faith, and other narratives emerged as coping mechanisms and motivators, driving migrants forward, individually and collectively, in pursuit of resurrection—a more powerful impetus than can be stopped by any border wall.
Analysis: Migrant Smugglers, Border Controls, and Illegal Economies
I have dedicated most of my analysis to discourse from migrants, as they are the primary actors and targets of border controls along the Balkan route. However, since Europol estimates that 90% of illegalized migrants use “facilitation services”—otherwise known as smugglers—during their journeys to the EU, I decided to also analyze how controls affect the operations and discourses of migrant smugglers. To the extent possible, I have also tried to illuminate how deterrence policies at the Serbian-Hungarian border in 2015 affected the economics of migrant smuggling.
Lawmakers have at times acknowledged, though internally, the hypocritical effects of the deterrence paradigm on migrant smuggling. Strikingly, the US Border Patrol’s own documents list “increased alien smuggling fees” as an “indicator of success” for its deterrence framework, believing that this change signals that migrants are attempting more difficult border crossings. Indeed, smuggling fees along the US-Mexico border have increased since 1980, belying the US Border Patrol’s insistence that “anti-smuggling” constitutes one of its key goals. Though the EU’s lack of an institutionalized and universal deterrence framework precludes drawing a similarly explicit pattern, migrant smuggling to the EU enjoyed its most profitable year in 2015 even as states closed borders, debated new strategies, and considered bombing smuggling boats off the coast of Libya. Might EU policy reorientation towards deterrence in 2015 have triggered changes similar to those seen with migrant smuggling along the US-Mexico border?
Unfortunately, a limited data set prevents me from establishing a categorical relationship between the 2015 Serbian-Hungarian border closing and migrant smuggler actions. Even with my expanded search parameters, I only pulled twenty-seven relevant smuggler quotes from ten distinct speakers as represented in eight stories across five publications (The Guardian, The New York Times, Reuters, The Wall Street Journal, RFERL). Only four explicitly mentioned borders or border controls, of which I coded one as undeterred, one as deterred, and two as indeterminate. The undeterred speaker expressed that the closure of the Serbian-Hungarian border presented only a minor hiccup in larger transnational smuggling operations.
“We have other ways. This was the easiest, but we have other ones.” No demographic info provided. Serbia-Hungary. 09/15/2015.
Conversely, the deterred speaker expressed that the Serbian-Hungarian border had become impassable. It is worth noting that the smuggler is speaking to a migrant, presenting the possible ulterior motive that he is persuading the migrant of the futility of crossing without assistance.
“The border is so closely watched, not even a bird can fly over.” Anonymous Syrian smuggler, no age provided. Serbia-Hungary. 10/22/2015.
One of the indeterminate statements, classified as such because it does not communicate a response to heightened border controls, does provide some actionable information. The smuggler is discussing route prices from the Balkans to Germany in late August and early September—before Hungary closes its Serbian border. The smuggler remarks that this period of relative ease of transit, facilitated by state bussing of migrants to external borders and welcoming policies in Germany, has forced smugglers to drop their prices. This statement establishes that some smugglers’ operations did respond to changes at the Serbian-Hungarian border, and intuits that if prices go down when that border eases, the inverse is also likely to be true:
“There are other people who take asylum seekers from Serbia to Hungary for 100 euros per person — the rate was 500 euros before between Hungary and Germany, but nowadays routes are easier. We can take people beyond Serbia, since we have friends and contacts. But asylum seekers can go by themselves as well, because everything is easy now. You saw that people are being given tickets to go to [Germany] from Hungary.” Abdullah, M, Afghan, age not provided. Balkan route. 09/11/2015.
However, my discourse analysis does not provide sufficient evidence to establish a definitive correlative relationship here. Yet, other patterns from my discourse analysis, particularly regarding smuggler methods and narratives, are more generalizable.
It is clear that many smugglers operating at the Serbian-Hungarian border operated as part of loose, transnational, horizontal networks. Smugglers like Abdullah, quoted above, formed chains which would transfer clients between smugglers at various points on the route to the EU. Four other smugglers mentioned their coordination with those working other points along the route to Europe. Quoted smugglers were of Bulgarian, Afghan, Kurd, and Syrian nationalities, with the latter three primarily smuggling migrants of their own nationality. In at least two cases, smugglers were family friends or acquaintances of the migrants they smuggled and at least one smuggler was a former migrant himself, though reporting from other contexts such as Turkey shows this to be a common phenomenon. Other smugglers found clients by making themselves known at common transit points, such as in Serbian border towns or at Keleti train station in Budapest. These methods reveal a certain level of sophistication, but they also reveal the familial, cultural, and experiential familiarities which connect migrants to smugglers on a personal level. While the European Commission’s description of migrant smugglers as members of “ruthless criminal networks organiz[ing] the journeys of large numbers of migrants” may hold for contexts like the Aegean crossing, migrant smuggling in the 2015 Balkans seems to have been more diffuse, spontaneous, and individualistic.
My data set does not provide much insight into why smugglers joined the industry, aside from one Bulgarian smuggler who cited a lack of economic opportunity: “Take me to America, and I’ll happily work as your gardener,” he told The Wall Street Journal. What does emerge are several narratives which smugglers told themselves to justify their often-deadly work. To understand how smugglers interpreted why some operations went wrong, I coded for references to events of violence and death on the smuggling trail, “I” statements, keywords signaling responsibility (blame, fault), and directives smugglers claim to have given to migrants and families. Not one smuggler in my data set took upon themselves responsibility for a death during their operations. Instead, four statements (two speakers) placed responsibility onto other smugglers and five statements (four speakers) placed responsibility onto migrants.
“Bewar [the other smuggler] is to blame because when he passed the job on … he didn’t get any information. Even now we don’t know the truth.” Sediq Sevo, Iraqi Kurd, M, age not provided. Hungary-Austria. 11/12/2015.
“I was nobody’s boss. Giving information is not giving orders. I didn’t create this crime group, it was not in my hands.” Lahoo Samsooryamal, M, Afghan, 31. Hungary-Austria. 06/14/2018.
“There is no guarantee in this business of trafficking. We tell people that there could be a shortage of food and water. There could be police arrest. There could even be death. Anything can happen. We tell all this to people. And they understand this. They tell us all this is evident. They tell us they know this. They accept all this on themselves.” Abdullah, M, Afghan, age not provided. Balkan route. 09/11/2015.
These statements give the smuggler a level of plausible deniability, where—in their minds—the risks are understood, and the journey is out of their control. Many incidents contradict this logic, not least of which was the infamous mass death event in August 2015 in Austria. Seventy-one migrants died inside the lorry, and Lahoo Samsooryamal, an Afghan smuggler charged as the ringleader, alluded that he directed smugglers to pay no mind to the migrants’ pleas, even as, in court, he washed his hands of responsibility. Events like these lead other smugglers to try to distinguish themselves, claiming they have “good experience” and that they’re not like “smugglers who squeeze too many people in one car. You heard what happened to those seventy-one [people] in that truck.” We can see how smugglers conceive of themselves not just as service providers but humanitarians, professional in their craft and acting with a strong moral compass.
Smuggler prosecution case data from the UNODC correlates with many of these quote patterns, lending strength to the idea that 2015 Balkans migrant smuggling was more individualized and opportunistic than in some other regions. The thirteen cases prosecuted in Serbia and listed in the UNODC database have offense dates ranging from 2006 to 2016 and verdict dates ranging from 2013 to 2016. Cases involved between one and eleven smugglers and four and seventy-six migrants. The smugglers were of Serbian, Bulgarian, and Afghan origin, while the migrants were of Albanian, Afghan, Bangladeshi, Iranian, Iraqi, Libyan, Somali, and Syrian origin. Seven cases involved smugglers acting essentially as paid guides for migrants who wanted to move through and exclusively within Serbia’s borders—that is, individuals charged migrants for private transport or even just information to help them move from southern Serbia to Belgrade or from Belgrade to towns along the Hungarian border.
Notably, these latter offenses do not meet the definition of migrant smuggling outlined in the 2000 Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) protocol, which defines migrant smuggling as requiring a border crossing. Nonetheless, Serbian courts charged many of these individuals with “enabling illegal entry” and/or obtaining “financial or other material benefit (to smuggler).” Several instances appear opportunistic, occurring when individuals came across lost migrants in border towns or at public transit stops and assisted them for a fee. In two cases the offenders were minors, and in one such case a fifteen-year-old Serbian male escorted a group of migrants from Macedonia into Serbia as he returned from visiting family. This does not mean larger crime groups were not involved—the UNODC signaled the involvement of TOC in at least two cases—but rather that the increase in migrants in the mid-2010s created opportunities for local citizens to exploit the crisis amid the inconsistency of state programs. Defendants in three cases were characterized as living in “poor” economic conditions, and a 2016 European Commission study on migrant smuggling noted “financial necessity” and destitution as predictors of Serbian local community involvement in migrant smuggling.
The UNODC cases also reveal that certain routes—and the price smugglers charged migrants on those routes—increased and became standardized in the period preceding and during the 2015 migrant crisis. While cases in 2006 and 2011 involved smugglers charging migrants 250 to 300 euros to move from southern to northern Serbia, three independent cases between 2013 and 2015 saw individuals charge migrants 500 euros to leave from towns on the Macedonian and Bulgarian borders, merge with the highway running from Niš to Belgrade, and then continue to border towns. Prices for transfers across the Serbian-Hungarian border were more erratic. A large TOC group moving Albanians in 2009 charged up to 8000 euros per group. Meanwhile, one smuggler operating in February 2016 charged migrants 1200 euros each to move across Serbia and into Hungary, and three smugglers operating in May 2016charged migrants just 100 euros each to go from Belgrade to Subotica and across the border. While, again, inconclusive as to the exact relationship between border controls and smuggling, these patterns suggest a market responsiveness to demand and the operations of other smugglers, with operators adjusting their prices to remain in line with the market.
Prices cited in migrant quotes about smugglers—of which I coded and analyzed twenty—paint a similarly hazy picture, as the exact distances and routes to which migrants assign prices in their conversations with journalists are not always clear. The price of 500 euros reoccurs three times in the context of moving across northern Serbia or through Hungary, again supporting the idea of price standardization. Two migrants referenced exorbitant prices charged by taxi drivers in Serbia, showcasing the exploitation of the crisis by local citizens. Five quotes demonstrated a scarcity mindset, which I coded when speakers referenced the need to conserve money or expressed relief when presented with opportunities to save money, showing how the smuggling industry placed severe financial pressure on migrants.
“I’ve got to save money, we all do. I’ve already spent 2,500 euros, so I want to make this as fast as possible.”Ahmed, M, Syrian, age not provided. Serbia. 08/21/2015.
“We had been going to take a taxi for €500. But then when we heard that the Hungarians were letting people get on the train, we thought ‘why waste the money and take such a risk if they’re letting us do this?’” Ahmed, M, Syrian, 19. Hungary-Austria-Germany. 09/02/2015.
“I’m lucky because we were thinking of talking to a smuggler again. The government just brought us here without any money. We saved like 400 or 500 euros.” Ashamaz Saeed, M, Syrian, 23. Hungary. 09/06/2015.
These comments also reveal that migrants sought legal or state-sponsored routes when possible, turning to smugglers primarily in the absence of such options. When Hungary offered migrants train rides to its border with Austria in early September, prior to the shuttering of its Serbian border, many accepted. While Hungary’s move should be read as a nativist attempt to rid its territory of migrants, my analysis suggests the campaign did fleetingly reduce migrants’ reliance on smugglers in Hungary. From a humanitarian perspective, interventions to keep money in migrants’ pockets also reduce migrants’ reliance on cheap smugglers who are more likely to force large groups of migrants into unsafe traveling arrangements to recoup lost profit.
My analysis of migrant quotes about smugglers did not provide much actionable information about how migrants came to find smugglers—one migrant said he found smugglers on the internet, another migrant said he knew his smuggler from Syria, and another quote reflected a migrant-smuggler interaction at a petrol station along the Serbian-Hungarian border. Migrants in my analysis, however, were very aware of the risks of smuggling. News of smuggling tragedies spread quickly within migrant information networks.
“We were close to being like them [those killed in the van].” Mahmoud Otri, M, Syrian, 23. [Smale, The New York Times, 08/30/2015, Hungary-Austria.]
“I heard about the people that have died of suffocation in lorries.” Ahmed, M, Syrian, 19. [Connolly, The Guardian, 09/02/2015, Hungary-Austria-Germany.]
It was also common for migrants to note times when smugglers had scammed them or lied to them (five quotes), separate from experiences of near death like the one mentioned by Mahmoud Otri above. It is clear that consulting a smuggler was neither a preferred nor pleasant experience for most migrants moving through the Balkan route in 2015. Instead, it represented a logical, resource-based choice made with increasing frequency as state programs present in early and mid-2015 evaporated with border closures in late 2015.
Upon synthesizing these three threads of migrant smuggler analysis, a few patterns deserve reiteration. First, the sharp increase in migrants moving through the Balkans in 2015 certainly spiked demand for smuggling services. On the other hand, the effect on supply was decidedly mixed. Experienced and confident smugglers continued operating, while others were scared off by border closures. To an extent, this consolidated supply. At the same time, the UNODC cases show that opportunistic, local actors began to involve themselves in the trade, proliferating but fracturing the supply. However, even if just demand rose as supply equilibrated, this would still provoke a market-based rise in smuggling prices. Simultaneously, we can see that migrants resisted using smugglers for cost and safety reasons, preferring to use state programs when possible. Deterrence policies and border closures pushed migrants closer to smugglers as these safety nets were removed. While the exact economic effects are unclear, closures at the very least created new challenges for migrants, and therefore new opportunities for smugglers.
Conclusion: Lessons for the European Project, Borders, and Identities
Throughout 2015 and the early months of 2016, illegalized migrants moving through Balkan states en route to the EU consistently articulated discrepancies between the EU’s espoused liberal institutionalist values and its treatment of those who attempted to cross its external and internal borders. Far from experiencing justice, fulfilled human rights, or equal treatment, migrants were faced with pushbacks, walls, forced fingerprinting, tear gas, expedited asylum denial, family separation, and vigilante violence. At the same time, the EU doubled down on a border securitization approach to combating migrant smuggling—an approach which likely boosted incentives for smuggling rings, with the industry pulling in a record profit in 2015. Some smugglers even appropriated rhetorical space to present themselves as Samaritans filling a state absence. By almost any metric, the EU failed to live up to its values or operational goals during the so-called 2015 migration crisis, and today thousands of migrants remain stranded in camps in Greece, Bosnia, France, and elsewhere. What explains this paradox?
The answer lies in the contradiction between the EU’s rhetorical presentation and its territorial realities. In theory, the EU is a supranational project. Constitutive states, though mostly sovereign, give up varying degrees of autonomy in pursuit of material benefit—such as fewer internal borders, easier trade, and economic development—as well as inclusion within a normatively progressive and powerful rhetorical project based on tolerance, justice, human rights, and other similar values. The traditional elements of statecraft, such as nation building, military force, and territorial expansion, are meant to be subordinate to this more humanitarian and egalitarian model of supranational governance. Yet, because the EU maintains physical borders, it is still in practice equivalent to a traditional state, defined by Max Weber as a “human community that (successfully) claims monopoly of the legitimate use of force within a given territory.” Further, because the EU governs through a representative democracy, it predisposes itself to the contradictions of nation-state construction, wherein determining who deserves representation (e.g., a European “people”) necessarily determines who does not. The border, which acts in both its physical and social manifestations as a delineator of difference, draws the fault lines of this represented people. As such, a nationalist and racialized concept of European identity begins to operate and reinforce itself through the infrastructure and borders of the supranational EU.
As the number of arriving migrants rose in 2015, these dueling presentations—one of a liberal institutionalist Europe, the other of a nationalist Europe—came into escalating conflict, driven by this disconnect between the EU’s espoused goals and its territorial and representational claims. Europe as an idea presented a talking point for leaders in favor of accepting migrants, as well as those wanting to exclude them. Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel, whose border policies oscillated between open and partially mediated as most other EU states resisted calls for burden-sharing, drew the crisis as an opportunity to prove Europe’s progressive bonafides. Quoted by Reuters in September 2015, Merkel argued that “if Europe fails on the refugee question, its tight bond with universal human rights will be destroyed, and it will no longer be the Europe we dreamed of.” Merkel’s fears contrasted with those of Hungary’s Orbán, who constructed migrants as a threat to European civilization and Christianity, with Hungary as the frontline in a battle to prevent Europe’s degradation. The Serbian-Hungarian border, guarding entry into both Hungary and the Schengen Area, became a site of contention, with Hungary utilizing domestic as well as EU infrastructure, such as Frontex, to transform a supranational border into a site for enforcing, paradoxically, a nationalist European identity.
Yet, while Merkel and Orbán may have differed in rhetoric and intention, what remains unquestioned in both presentations is Europe’s quintessential goodness, if not its superiority. To borrow a phrase from French sociologist Daniel Defert, Europe “takes consciousness of itself … as a planetary process rather than [as] a region of the world.”The ever-expanding and ever-changing nature of EU accession exemplifies this projection, furthering the idea of the EU as a supranational project into and by which nation-states are subsumed and enlightened. The world’s desire to “become” Europe, therefore, is conceived as inevitable and understandable. Yet, membership is still strictly policed, as is made evident by the mediation of both EU accession and refugee admissions. Merkel and Orbán, therefore, represent distant points on a continuum of views articulating who can and cannot become European. Again, the EU’s maintenance of representative borders precludes an all-inclusive answer to this question, and so the border becomes the site for dictating the terms of exclusion, by definition creating discriminatory hierarchies which contradict the EU’s projections of non-discrimination, equality, and fairness.
This debate takes on an extra dimension when one considers how the EU has convinced third countries to enforce its border regime for it. For EU-candidate countries, the EU has incentivized the harmonization of migration law as a harbinger of accession. In Serbia, the EU’s Stabilisation and Accession Council has shepherded the country’s post-Milošević leadership towards alignment with EU migration controls. Meanwhile, the EU’s 2016 deal with Turkey has become a cornerstone of EU migration management. These processes show how successfully the EU has projected its progressive image, as candidate countries are willing to enforce EU migration frameworks to preserve the integrity of a European project from which they themselves have been excluded. Indeed, Serbia’s then-Prime Minister and current President Aleksandar Vučić invoked the idea of Europe for his own purposes during the 2015 migration crisis, decrying Orbán’s “non-European” policies and calling on “[EU] members to behave in line with European values” or else “[Serbia] will find a way to protect [its] borders and European values as well.” Seizing on that opportunity to elevate Serbia to the EU’s moral high ground, Vučić was less eager to place Serbia inside Europe once it became clear Serbia might have to host refugees long-term, insisting his country could not become a “parking lot” for migrants. Much as Orbán used supranational border infrastructure to execute a nationalist agenda, Vučić latched onto European project rhetoric to articulate and further his goals and Serbia’s positionality.
As such, rhetorical proximity to the European project sometimes outpaces territorial acceptance, with candidate states often appropriating that space even when faced with official exclusion. It is thus unsurprising that Hungary, Serbia, and Western Balkan countries on the EU’s territorial and rhetorical periphery adopted deterrence-based migration policies on behalf of the EU, performing a hyper-nationalist policing of European identity in order to distance themselves from the migrant other and approximate themselves to enlightened Europe. Many EU-core countries (such as Austria, Poland, and certain movements in the Netherlands, France, and Germany) not only encouraged but ultimately adopted such policies themselves—reintroducing intra-Schengen controls, capping refugee admissions, and engaging in deterrence-focused information campaigns. As demonstrated, migrants were quick to articulate these hypocrisies, as the Europe they had heard about and ran towards—the one based on human rights, justice, and tolerance—gave way to a Europe which abused and excluded them. The fact that migrants were then able to reproduce this liberal institutionalist discourse to argue for their freedom of movement highlights the reach and power of the EU’s rhetoric, as well as the distance between the EU’s projected image and the realities of its border regime.
Borders, by definition, are a direct contradiction of supranationalism and the values the EU venerates as its most important. Simply put, borders determine the fault lines of discrimination—they write the rules for who falls inside and outside of a given territory and the society within. Deterrence-based migration policies operate as a hyperactive form of this discrimination, manifesting the idea that a territory—and, by extension, an identity—can be “secured” through the vigilant and performative enforcement of the intersections of difference. For as long as borders exist, there will always be those who seek to circumvent the hierarchies they create, just as there will be those ready (smugglers) to assist that circumvention for a fee. Ultimately, it is impossible to enforce borders in such a way that respects human rights; it is an oxymoron, equivalent to trying to find a just way to discriminate. Arguably, border abolition provides the only path towards the reality of a truly egalitarian and liberal institutionalist Europe. At the very least, reorienting migration policy with human rights concerns prioritized would necessitate border relaxation, migrant resettlement programs from traditional countries of origin, and the recalibration of the world economy to eliminate the wage and labor discrepancies which displace and incentivize migrants. Deterrence-based policies at Europe’s borders can only subject more bodies to necropolitics; their continuation ensures the creation and performance of more discrimination, displacement, and mass death. In the end, the body count will include not just the millions arriving at Europe’s frontiers, but the aspirations of the European project itself.
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 I use “migrant” to refer to non-EU citizens, primarily from Asia and Africa, participating in mass migrations by foot and boat to the EU. Most could be defined as refugees, but I have chosen “migrant” as an all- encompassing term to avoid invoking the legal burden of proof needed to assert refugee status for each individual.
 Rory Carroll, “US Border Patrol Uses Desert as ‘Weapon’ to Kill Thousands of Migrants, Report Says,” The Guardian, December 7, 2016, http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/dec/07/report-us-border-patrol-desert-weapon-immigrants-mexico.
 Arthur Nelsen and Lizzy Davies, “Italy: End of Ongoing Sea Rescue Mission ‘Puts Thousands at Risk,’” The Guardian, October 31, 2014, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/oct/31/italy-sea-mission-thousands-risk.
 Josh Smith, “Germany Launches Campaign to Deter Afghan Refugees,” Stars and Stripes, November 16, 2015, https://www.stripes.com/news/europe/germany-launches-campaign-to-deter-afghan-refugees-1.379170.
 European Commission, “EU Action Plan against Migrant Smuggling (2015 – 2020),” May 27, 2015, https://ec.europa.eu/anti-trafficking/sites/default/files/eu_action_plan_against_migrant_smuggling_en.pdf.
 Europol, “Migrant Smuggling in the EU,” February 22, 2016, https://www.europol.europa.eu/publications-documents/migrant-smuggling-in-eu.
 I use the language of “illegalization” to highlight the role of the state in designating certain migrations as outside of the law, as well as to avoid the negative connotations of terms like “illegal,” “irregular,” or “unwanted” migration.
 See: Achille Mbembe, Necropolitics (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2019).
 David Newman and Anssi Paasi, “Fences and Neighbours in the Postmodern World: Boundary Narratives in Political Geography,” Progress in Human Geography 22, no. 2 (April 1, 1998): 187-88, https://doi.org/10.1191/030913298666039113.
 Ivo D Duchacek, Comparative Federalism; the Territorial Dimension of Politics (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1970).
 Étienne Balibar et al., Politics and the other scene (London: Verso, 2002).
 Harald Bauder, “Toward a Critical Geography of the Border: Engaging the Dialectic of Practice and Meaning,” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 101, no. 5 (2011): 1129.
 Haselsberger, Beatrix. “Decoding Borders: Appreciating Border Impacts on Space and People.” Planning Theory & Practice 15, no. 4 (October 2, 2014): 505–26, https://doi.org/10.1080/14649357.2014.963652.
 Peter Andreas, “Redrawing the Line: Borders and Security in the Twenty-First Century,” International Security 28, no. 2 (2003): 78–111; Nancy A. Wonders, “Globalization, Border Reconstruction Projects, and Transnational Crime,” Social Justice 34, no. 2 (2007): 33–46.
 Todd Miller, Border Patrol Nation (San Francisco: City Lights Books, 2014).
 A. Naomi Paik, Bans, Walls, Raids, Sanctuary: Understanding U.S. Immigration for the Twenty-First Century (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2020), 77.
 Harsha Walia, Border and Rule: Global Migration, Capitalism, and the Rise of Racist Nationalism (Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2021), 120.
 Walia, Border and Rule, 117.
 Haselsberger, “Decoding Borders,” 505-26.
 Kenichi Ohmae, The Borderless World, Rev Ed: Power and Strategy in the Interlinked Economy, revised ed. edition (New York: Harper Business, 1999).
 Saskia Sassen, “Beyond Sovereignty: Immigration Policy Making Today,” Social Justice 23, no. 3 (65) (1996): 9–20; Peter Andreas, “Redrawing the Line: Borders and Security in the Twenty-First Century,” International Security 28, no. 2 (2003): 78–111.
 Saskia Sassen, “Regulating Immigration in a Global Age: A New Policy Landscape1,” Parallax 11, no. 1 (January 2005): 35–45, https://doi.org/10.1080/1353464052000321083.
 Paik, “Bans, Walls, Raids, Sanctuary,” 8-17
Walia, “Border and Rule,” 2.
 Haselsberger, “Decoding Borders,” 505-26; Newman and Paasi, “Fences and Neighbours in the Postmodern World,” 188; Basilien-Gainche, “The EU External Edges,” 97.
 Michael Jandl, “Irregular Migration, Human Smuggling, and the Eastern Enlargement of the European Union,” The International Migration Review 41, no. 2 (2007): 291–315.
 Peter Andreas, “The Escalation of U.S. Immigration Control in the Post-NAFTA Era,” Political Science Quarterly 113, no. 4 (1998): 591–615, https://doi.org/10.2307/2658246.
 Moisés Naím, Illicit: How Smugglers, Traffickers, and Copycats Are Hijacking the Global Economy (New York: Anchor, 2006).
 Wayne A. Cornelius, “Controlling ‘Unwanted’ Immigration: Lessons from the United States, 1993–2004,” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 31, no. 4 (July 1, 2005): 775–94, https://doi.org/10.1080/13691830500110017.
 Bryan Roberts, Gordon Hamsen, Derekh Cornwell, and Scott Borger. 2010. An Analysis of Migrant Smuggling Costs along the Southwest Border. Office of Immigration Statistics Working Paper, Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C. https://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/statistics/publications/ois-smuggling-wp.pdf.
 Susanne Schmeidl, “Exploring the Causes of Forced Migration: A Pooled Time-Series Analysis, 1971-1990,” Social Science Quarterly 78, no. 2 (1997): 284–308, http://www.jstor.org/stable/42864338.
 The UNHCR defines refugees as “people who have fled war, violence, conflict or persecution and have crossed an international border to find safety in another country.”
 Paik, Bans, Walls, Raids, Sanctuary; Sassen, Expulsions; Walia, Border and Rule
 Francesco Castelli, “Drivers of Migration: Why Do People Move?,” Journal of Travel Medicine 25, no. 1 (January 1, 2018), https://doi.org/10.1093/jtm/tay040.
 Antje Missbach, “Asylum Seekers’ and Refugees’ Decision-Making in Transit in Indonesia: The Need for In-Depth and Longitudinal Research,” Bijdragen Tot de Taal-, Land- En Volkenkunde 175, no. 4 (2019): 419–45, https://doi.org/10.2307/26806654.
 Valeria Ottonelli and Tiziana Torresi, “When Is Migration Voluntary?,” The International Migration Review 47, no. 4 (2013): 783–813.https://doi.org/10.1111/imre.12048.
 Ilse van Liempt, “Gendered Borders: The Case of ‘Illegal’ Migration from Iraq, the Horn of Africa and the Former Soviet Union to the Netherlands,” in Illegal Migration and Gender in a Global and Historical Perspective, ed. Marlou Schrover et al. (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2008), 83–104, https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctt46mwss.6.
 Martin van der Velde and Ton van Naerssen, “People, Borders, Trajectories: An Approach to Cross-Border Mobility and Immobility in and to the European Union,” Area 43, no. 2 (2011): 218–24, https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1475-4762.2010.00974.x.
 Paolo Campana and Loraine Gelsthorpe, “Choosing a Smuggler: Decision-Making Amongst Migrants Smuggled to Europe,” European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research 27 (July 27, 2020), https://doi.org/10.1007/s10610-020-09459-y.
 Sue Hoffman, “‘If We Die, We Die Together’: Risking Death at Sea in Search of Safety,” in Migration by Boat, ed. Lynda Mannik, 1st ed., vol. 35, Discourses of Trauma, Exclusion and Survival (Berghahn Books, 2016), 219–34, https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctvpj7hqz.16.
Abdullah Mohammadi, Rita Nimkar, and Emily Savage, “”We are the ones they come to when nobody can help” Afghan smugglers’ perceptions of themselves and their communities,” Migration Research Series 56 (2019), https://publications.iom.int/books/mrs-no-56-we-are-ones-they-come-when-nobody-can-help-afghan-smugglers-perceptions-themselves.
 Nassim Majidi, “Community Dimensions of Smuggling: The Case of Afghanistan and Somalia,” The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 676, no. 1 (March 1, 2018): 97–113, https://doi.org/10.1177/0002716217751895.
 Patrick Kingsley, The New Odyssey (New York: Liveright Publishing Corporation, 2017).
 Natalia Banulescu-Bogdan and Susan Fratzke, “Europe’s Migration Crisis in Context: Why Now and What Next?,” Migration Policy Institute, September 24, 2015, https://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/europe%E2%80%99s-migration-crisis-context-why-now-and-what-next.
 Ibid, 4.
 Agence France-Presse, “Hungary Closes Border with Serbia and Starts Building Fence to Bar Migrants,” The Guardian, June 17, 2015, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jun/17/hungary-closes-border-serbia-starts-building-fence-bar-migrants.
 Beznec et. al, “Governing the Balkan Route,” 26.
 DW, “Hungary claims record daily migrant intake,” DW, August 25, 2015, https://www.dw.com/en/hungary-claims-record-daily-migrant-intake/a-18670646.
 Amnesty International Report: The State of the World’s Human Rights. (New York: Amnesty International, 2016).
 Amnesty International, “Fenced Out: Hungary’s Violations of the Rights of Refugees and Migrants,” last modified October 2015, https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/document/?indexNumber=eur27%2f2614%2f2015&language=en.
 Helene Bienvenu and Rick Lyman, “Hungary Blocks Migrants in Border Crackdown,” The New York Times, September 15, 2015, https://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/16/world/europe/hungary-detains-migrants-in-border-crackdown.html.
 Maja Zuvela and Igor Ilic, “‘Heads as Well as Hearts’: Croatia Says It Can Take No More Migrants,” Reuters, September 18, 2015, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-europe-migrants-idUSKCN0RI0CV20150918; Marja Novak and Maja Zuvela, “12,000 Migrants Arrive in Slovenia; Authorities Ask EU for Help,” Reuters, October 22, 2015, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-europe-migrants-slovenia-idUSKCN0SG0DI20151022.
 JROs involve the deportation or repatriation, forced or voluntary, of third-country nationals.
 General Secretariat of the Council. “FRONTEX Annual Activity Report 2015.” Council of the European Union, June 28, 2016. http://statewatch.org/news/2016/jul/eu-frontex-2015-activity-report.pdf.
 Sian Jones, “Refugees Suffer Under Macedonia’s New Border Rules,” Balkan Insight, December 17, 2015, https://balkaninsight.com/2015/12/17/refugees-suffer-under-macedonia-s-new-border-rules-12-16-2015/.
 Patrick Kingsley, “Stranded Migrants Sew Mouths Shut in Protest against Balkan Border Controls,” The Guardian, November 23, 2015, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/nov/23/stranded-migrants-sew-mouths-shut-in-protest-against-balkan-border-controls.
 “2015 in Review: Timeline of Major Incidences and Policy Responses,” accessed April 12, 2020, https://www.icmpd.org/news-centre/2015-in-review-timeline-of-major-incidences-and-policy-responses/.
 “The EU-Turkey Deal: Explained,” Help Refugees (blog), April 5, 2018, https://helprefugees.org/news/eu-turkey-deal-explained/.
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 Aleksandar Vasovic and Marja Novak, “Backlog of Migrants Swells in the Balkans, Tempers Fray,” Reuters, October 19, 2015, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-europe-migrants-balkans-idUSKCN0SD0J620151019.
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