Inclusion through irregularisation? Exploring the politics and realities of internal bordering in managing post-crisis labour migration in the EU
The technologies and practices of migration management are changing profoundly. They have been extended beyond territorial borders, immigration policies and assigned legal identities and downshifted to `inside' spaces across state and non-state `ordinary institutions'. This article claims for EU migrants in pre-Brexit UK, immigration controls have worked through a process of `bureaucratic bordering' that infiltrates the post-arrival regularisation of statuses and affects broader pathways of incorporation. The discussion draws on episodes of participant observation with Bulgarian arrivals to trace the tightening of administrative procedures that ensued in the aftermath of labour market liberalisation in 2014. These are explored for their productive, rather than restrictive potential, namely, for implicating migrants in a bureaucratically induced temporality of `protracted arrival' in the process of which they are stripped off of their formal rights and made dependent on subordinated forms of employment and existence within the confines of the `migrant economy'. By exploring the politics and experiences of intra-EU migration through analytical concepts devised for `precarious' movements, such as `bordering', `differential inclusion', and `permanent temporariness', this article questions the incisive conceptual and empirical binaries between internal and external migrations and joins the voices of those warning to the eroding protection of EU citizenship.