Does Immigration Enforcement Matter (DIEM)?

November 2013 - July 2017
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This research project aims to explore and explain why, in the UK, despite increasingly strict immigration policies and enhanced law enforcement (e.g. entry screening, ID and work permits checks, workplace and other raids, and employer sanctions), irregular migration continues at significant levels, and at least until 2008, even increased. This study looks specifically at in-country immigration law enforcement and its effects and limits, an aspect that has so far received very little academic attention. It complements another project based at COMPAS that studies border controls.

The overarching theme of this project is to study the impact of increasingly tight legislation and robust enforcement measures on irregular migration and on irregular immigrants. In particular, it aims to:

(1) investigate immigration law enforcement agencies and practices;
(2) analyse the political, legal, practical and ethical limits of law enforcement;
(3) investigate the interaction between irregular immigrants’ strategies, employer practices and enforcement measures;
(4) find how irregular migrants navigate and survive internal immigration controls;
(5) identify the impact of enforcement on irregular migrants’ access to fundamental rights;
(6) show how all this is perceived by the affected immigrant communities; and finally,
(7) highlight the effects and effectiveness of such enforcement.


Principal Investigator

Franck Düvell


Myriam Cherti
Iryna Lapshyna


Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)