Refugee Week Online Research Seminar: Border Securitisation and the Criminalization of Migration Inside Schengen

An online event hosted by: UNIC / ISS21, UCC Friday 24th Feb 2023 at 4pm CET (3pm local) Speaker: Dr. Gustavo de la Orden Bosch

Border Securitisation and the Criminalization of Migration Inside Schengen:

 The case of the Franco-Spanish border in the Basque Country


Hosted by: UNIC / ISS21, UCC 

Friday 24th Feb 2023


3pm-4pm (4pm-5pm CET) 

Online Event: Join Meeting Here

Speaker: Dr. Gustavo de la Orden Bosch



Gustavo de la Orden Bosch is associate researcher at the Institute of Human Rights Pedro Arrupe of the University of Deusto. His main research interests include border studies, migration, asylum, criminalisation and human rights, within the framework of International Law, Criminal Law and Criminology. His PhD research focused on the securitization and criminalisation of migration at the external borders of the European Union placing an emphasis on the impact on the rights of asylum seekers and refugees. A special focus was on Spanish systems of border control, migration and international protection. Gustavo is a member of the research team “Human Rights and Sociocultural Challenges in a World in Transformation”, financed by the Basque Government (RETOS IT-1468-22). His current research project is “The European Pact on Migration and Asylum and the Mediterranean States in the post-covid context (EURASYLUM II)” (DER 113999RB-100), led by Dr. Joana Abrisketa and financed by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).


Studies on EU border and migration management are usually focused on external borders. Likewise, academic research on cooperation on migration control tend to deal with agreements between EU Member States and third countries. One of the main reasons for this is the legal design and functioning of the Schengen Area. The logic of strengthening external border control to ensure freedom of movement leads to a neglect of what happens at internal borders, where controls are formally abolished. Similarly, not much attention is paid to migration control agreements between Member States. However, in practice, some internal borders are subject to reinforced control due to national security policies. As an extraordinary measure, non-EU migration and crossing internal borders is managed through immobility, rejection and expulsion. The proposals for the reform of the Schengen Area, announced in January 2022 by the French Presidency of the Council of the EU aim at “protecting European identity”, moving this agenda forward. Against this background, the paper analyses the situation at the Franco-Spanish border in the Basque Country. Since 2015, in the aftermath of terrorist attacks, France has temporarily reintroduced border control on several occasions and implemented strict police controls on non-EU migrants in the city of Hendaye. As a result, many people are being detained and returned to Spanish territory when trying to cross the border between the cities of Irun and Hendaye. 

The legality of returns is justified in the readmission agreement signed between both States in Malaga in 2002. However, the operational difficulties in the implementation of this agreement lead to border agents carrying out de facto returns without a legal procedure. “Hot returns” are executed in break of national and international legal framework. In addition, as a preventive mechanism, many migrants are detained by Spanish police. Trying to avoid the selective police controls performed on racial bias, people cross “clandestinely” the internal border swimming the Bidassoa river, 50 meters in distance between Spanish and French shores. Three migrants drowned in 2021. Another four lost their lives when hit by a train while sleeping on the tracks. The exceptionality of internal border controls poses a set of problematic issues: the inoperability of the Schengen Area in practice, the arbitrary enforcement of extraordinary measures, the suspension of Schengen rules at internal borders, the reinforcement of securitization and criminalization of migration, and the denial of rights to protection to asylum seekers.

Event organisers:

Cliona Maher, International Strategy Officer Latin America (

Dr Armida De La Garza, Senior Lecturer, College of Arts, Celtic Studies and Social Sciences (

Moderator: Dr Claire Dorrity, School of Applied Social Studies / ISS21 Migration and Integration Research Cluster (

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