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The effectiveness of migration policies has been widely contested in the face of their oft perceived failure to control the movement of people. Because migration is driven by economic, demographic and political processes in origin and destination societies that are far beyond the scope of migration policies, the argument goes that policy restrictions only have a limited effect on inflows, and have several unintended, counter-productive effects such as encouraging irregular migration, discouraging return and pushing migrants into permanent settlement (Castles 2004; Cornelius et al. 2004; de Haas 2011; Massey et al. 1998). Furthermore, migrant networks and migration system dynamics are known to lower the costs and risks of migration. This can give migration processes their own momentum, for instance through continuing family migration (Castles and Miller 2009; de Haas 2010; Massey 1990; Massey et al. 1998). This has led some to state that ‘borders are beyond control’ (cf. Bhagwati 2003).

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Journal article


American Political Science Association

Publication Date



1 (2)


40 - 47

Total pages