Date of Graduation

Spring 5-19-2023

Document Type

Restricted Thesis - USF access only

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Migration Studies


College of Arts and Sciences


Migration Studies

First Advisor

Lois Ann Lorentzen


Global North states increasingly rely on border externalization measures to make other countries, particularly Global South countries, accept returned asylum seekers and migrants, process and deport them, and/or curb migration flows. By these means, Global North states avoid complying with their international responsibilities toward potential asylum seekers and migrants in their territories and expose these populations to more significant levels of violence and risks. Despite these impacts, comparative accounts on the nature and consequences of border externalization practices are still scarce. The present article aims to contribute to this emerging literature by exploring the functioning of border externalization practices and their impacts on the rights of migrants and asylum seekers. To that aim, based on twenty-one in-depth interviews with migration practitioners in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Morocco, Senegal, and Mauritania, this research provides a comparative case study of the functioning and impacts of the border externalization practices of a long-term net receiving country, the United States, and a recent net receiving country, Spain. Results show a general agreement among practitioners about the role of the U.S., Spain, and the E.U. in shaping third-country migration policies so they accommodate to their goals of keeping migrants and asylum seekers immobile and away from their borders. As a consequence, participants reported increasing state and non-statal physical and psychological violence against migrants in transit, the separation of families, more disappearances, and more deaths. Furthermore, the implementation of border externalization strategies exponentially increases migrants’ vulnerability. Practitioners envisioned addressing the root causes of forced migration, widening legal pathways for migrating and claiming asylum, protecting migrants’ rights and lives in transit, and reversing the offshoring of migration controls as alternatives to border externalization. These results advance the knowledge on the impacts of border externalization practices, explore the under-covered perception of migration practitioners about them, and provide guidance for policy actions to align the external dimension of migration policies with the respect to the international and domestic asylum and human rights standards.

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