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Abstract

This study is the first to analyze the discourses and practices of securitization and desecuritization around the issue of migration that have conflated in the German political arena during the 2015-2016 so called "refugee crisis". The study untangles the role that security played in the discursive construction of the crisis in Germany and how it affected the legal and policy frameworks governing refugee flows. Departing from a post-structuralist reading of securitization theory as a political process in which different discourses struggle for becoming the hegemonic regime of truth, the study examines which actors initiated securitizing and desecuritizing moves against refugees, where these moves found resistance, and the result that this dynamic had in the governance of the movement of forced migrants into Germany. The study goes beyond the linguistic construction of the refugee crisis by including in the analysis the socio-historical context in which the political debate on the institution of asylum in Germany was framed, in order to understand the impact of internal and external factors on the political and security outcomes. In this fashion, the study shows that Germany, despite having adopted an open-border refugee policy in 2015, did not desecuritize its asylum policies; on the contrary, it instantiated a new securitization process which resulted in increasing security practices governing the asylum process, making the access to international protection more restrictive than before the crisis, and reducing the rights for asylum seekers and recognized refugees. In this sense, Germany followed the more general securitizing trend observed in the European Union after 2015 of representing the refugee crisis as a security issue rather than a humanitarian crisis.

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