Land of the Deportable. Repression and Protection inside French Immigration Detention Centers
Comment by Irina Mützelburg (CMB)
Drawing boundaries is one of the main functions of modern law. Legal boundaries deeply shape modern societies. They define inclusion and exclusion and differentiate legal status, by that determining who belongs to a society or group – and who does not. This fundamental function of law to define belonging is at the heart of a lecture series organized by the Center for Global Constitutionalism (WZB) together with the Centre Marc Bloch.
In his talk Nicolas Fischer deals with the legal regulation of immigration while focusing on immigration detention centers in France. He addresses the fundamental tension these centers are facing as repressive institutions in a democratic realm: They are detention facilities designed to control deportable immigrants while state officials prepare their forced removal, but, as such, they are supposed to follow the “rule of law” and provide inmates with legal protection and counsel. The presentation will focus on a set of actors who incarnate this tension – human right advocates who are authorized to intervene on a daily basis inside detention centers to propose legal relief to the detainees. A leading question is: To what extent does advocacy have an impact on the enforcement of deportations itself, and what does that mean for the negotiated definition of state borders that separate “legal” immigrants from those who are not authorized to stay?
Dr. Nicolas Fischer is a sociologist and researcher at the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) appointed at the “Centre de recherches sociologiques sur le droit et les institutions pénales“ (CESDIP), at the University of Versailles Saint-Quentin in Guyancourt. He has extensively published on the sociology of immigration and its legal regulation. In 2017 he published “Le territoire de l’expulsion. La rétention administrative des étrangers et l’Etat de droit dans la France contemporaine” (The Land of the Deportable. Administrative detention of strangers and the rule of law in present-day France), Lyon, ENS Editions.
Irina Mützelburg is a political scientist and Ph.D. candidate at the Centre Marc Bloch and Sciences Po Paris.
This event is part of the WZB series “Wer gehört dazu? Grenzziehungen durch Recht” and is organized in cooperation with the Centre Marc Bloch Berlin.