Controlling Immigration in Europe
‘The more fiercely a civilisation entrenches itself, the less it is left with to defend’. This statement by Hans M. Enzensberger (1993: 18) embodies the nemesis of control in our societies: the process in which the ‘control with others’ recoils and turns against oneself. It touches the edge of meaning in the realm of control as such. Who is controlling what for which aims and with which consequences? Even though these ultimate thresholds seem far on the horizon, the dynamics in the statement are present in many decisions – big or small – at different levels in society. How we act and relate to immigrants or ‘foreigners’ based on ways of thinking, social definitions and ideology of nationhood basically reflects what kind of society we want. Ethnically segmented surroundings influence the normative basis of the welfare state. Racism is a threat to not only ethnic minorities, but also against democratic traditions and the general social climate. In liberal societies there is no clear cutting edge where control turns into repression.
Through the eight case studies we wanted to draw attention to a broader tableau of control dimensions. Beyond the traditional approach to studies of immigration regulation, where border control and alien control are the two major targets of analysis, we wanted to study the terrain in between and around these control positions. This means studying the mechanisms operating in the interplay between external and internal immigration control, the way in which more subtle or implicit forces may counteract and undermine, or support and strengthen intentional policies, and trigger and reinforce or obstruct formation processes in the realm of public opinion. As we saw in the introductory chapter, there is basically an interaction between the exercise of sovereignty in terms of territorial control, and internally – the consolidation of national identity and integration. The case studies reveal national variations within Europe along these lines in the midst of policy convergence. Some explanations for this variation are given in the historical accounts. Different kinds of state