Migration Control in the North Atlantic World: The Evolution of State Practices in Europe and the United States from the French Revolution to the Inter-War Period

By Andreas Fahrmeir; Olivier Faron et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter 8
The Transformation of Nineteenth-
Century West European Expulsion
Policy, 1880–1914

Frank Caestecker

Alien policy took its contemporary shape in the first half of the twentieth century. By 1940 the distinction between tolerated and unwanted immigration, which is still valid today, was set throughout Western Europe. By the end of the nineteenth century, the transformation of alien policy had begun. This chapter is an outline of the logic of nineteenth-century alien policy which focuses on one aspect of alien policy, expulsion policy.

While, over the last two decades, the origins of twentiethcentury alien policy have been well-researched by historians, they have paid little attention to nineteenth-century regulation of migration. One of the reasons for this lack of interest can be explained by a deficit of historical research on twentieth-century alien policy. Although historians have unravelled the intentions of twentieth-century policy makers, few have analysed to what extent these intentions materialised. This is a much more complex topic. While research on the officially proclaimed alien policy focuses on the central authorities, assessing the implementation of this legislation demands research on a local basis of a myriad of enforcement agencies, including the courts. It also has to take into account migrants’ responsive strategies.

Nineteenth-century regulation of migration and even alien policy was not the sole jurisdiction of the central authorities. Local authorities had significant input in defining the stranger, who was not entitled to access their territory or their welfare community. Even the concept of alien was nebulous in this age of limited political centralisation.

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