Irregular migration is often used as a generic term, particularly in the media and in political discourses, to cove a wider variety of phenomena. Also migration control policies are seen as resulting from the need to manage irregular migration while in reality irregular migration is partly created by such policies. This chapter starts by discussing the different types of irregularity that can be found under the generic expression ‘illegal migration’ distinguishing between unlawful entry, irregular stay and irregular work. It then offers an overview of how states seek to control immigration through internal (within the country’s territory) or external (at the border or outside the border) migration control regimes, and through policies that have a fencing (stopping) or a gate-keeping (preventing) character. The chapter offers conceptual and operational definitions and illustrates these through concrete examples.
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