Prof. Dr. Marietta Messmer

I’m interested in bringing a humanities perspective to the field of migration studies. My most recent publications provide interdisciplinary analyses of the the socio-cultural, political, legal, and ethical consequences of the Trump administration’s immigration and refugee regime, with particular attention to the ways in which it violates both U.S. national legal standards and international human rights obligations towards unaccompanied Central American minors. Child migration raises many social, legal, and political questions that differ fundamentally from those raised by adult migrants and throws into striking relief the contradictions inherent in the U.S.’s immigration and refugee regime, which is primarily geared at adults, as well as the contradictory nature of family-related policies that seemingly privilege family reunification while at the same time tearing apart mixed-status families or non-immediate relatives. Several of my articles explore the extent to which under-age migrants and refugees are disproportionately affected by heightened forms of state surveillance and discourses of “crimmigration” (the merger of immigration and criminal law) and hence the selectiveness of U.S. refugee policies (including arbitrary and inconsistent applications), which creates differential rights to mobility and thus reproduces inequality and exclusion.


My comparative analysis of the U.S.’s and the European Union’s ways of outsourcing and privatizing immigration control measures highlights the extent to which both the US and the EU have started to significantly extend their areas of political and legal influence beyond their own national borders. This extraterritorialization of (legal and political) borders facilitates the circumvention of basic human rights obligations and redefines the boundaries of state control as it simultaneously expands and disperses state power by increasing the government’s legal reach over vulnerable non-citizen populations even beyond national borders while at the same time decreasing the government’s direct liability and accountability.


Bibliography related to ENMMA:


Messmer, Marietta. “Breaking the Vicious Circle of Gang-Related Violence: Central American Minors and the Current U.S. Refugee Regime.” Inter-American Perspectives in the 21st Century. Ed. Olaf Kaltmeier and Wilfried Raussert. Trier: WVT and Tempe, Bilingual Press (forthcoming 2021).

---. “Children and Youth: Disadvantaged and Disenfranchised by the Current U.S. Immigration Regime.” Review of International American Studies (RIAS) 11.2 (2018): 37-66.

---. “Detention for Deterrence? The Strategic Role of Private Facilities and Offshore Resources in U.S. Migration Management.” Permeable Borders: History, Theory, Policy, and Practice in the United States. Ed. Paul Otto and Susanne Berthier-Foglar. New York: Berghahn, April 2020.

---. “Outsourcing Immigration Control: A Comparison Between Current U.S. and EU Immigration Policy Measures.” (Im)Migration Patterns: Displacement and Relocation in Contemporary America. Ed. A. Ciugureanu, L. Martanovschi, N. Stanca. Iasi: Institutul European, 2016. 19-36.

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