Crime, pre-crime and sub-crime: Deportation of “risky” non-citizens from Australia as “enemy crimmigration”

Leanne Weber1, Rebecca Powell1

1Monash University, Melbourne, Australia,

The situation of non-citizens in many countries is becoming ever more precarious. Insecure immigration status opens up for governments unique avenues for exclusionary risk reduction measures that are not available in relation to citizens. Moreover, because of their deportability and lack of political power, it may be even more difficult for non-citizens to claim human rights protections than it is for citizens. In this chapter we use the “enemy penology” thesis expounded by German legal theorist Günther Jakobs to discuss two groups of non-citizens who have been ongoing targets for risk reduction measures in Australia. We analyse the “crimmigration” policies that construct them as “social enemies” and increasingly lead to their expulsion, sometimes in the absence of either immigration violations or criminal convictions. We argue that the ramping up of risk-based and pre-emptive measures against these groups has implications beyond the potential violation of their individual human rights. The rise of executive power, adoption of pre-crime and sub-crime models at the nexus of immigration and crime control, and lack of regard for rehabilitation objectives and human rights protection, all signal the broadening of the securitisation agenda beyond counter-terrorism, and progression along a dangerously undemocratic path. We conclude that the sustained focus on the pre-emption of risk, combined with the rise of nationalist sentiments, create conditions conducive to the development of a “preventive state” that, while as-yet not fully realised, represents a much greater threat to Australian democracy than the presence of these groups.


Leanne Weber is Associate Professor of Criminology, Director of the Border Crossing Observatory and Australian Research Council Future Fellow in the School of Social Sciences at Monash University, Melbourne, Australia. She researches border control and migration policing using criminological and human rights frameworks.

Rebecca Powell is the Managing-Director of the Border Crossing Observatory and Research Manager of the Monash Migration and Inclusion Centre. She is currently completing a PhD titled ‘Balancing risk and human rights in the deportation of convicted non-citizens from Australia to New Zealand’.

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