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How Migration is a challenge to internal security

  • Category
    Internal Security
  • Published
    18th Jan, 2022


In recent years, migration has made its way to the forefront of the security agendas of several states. The perception of immigration as a threat to security has developed alongside the rapid increase in the number of immigrants worldwide.


What is Migration?

  • Migration is nothing but a simple movement of people from one place to another to settle permanently or temporarily in a new location. 
  • People can migrate individually, in family units, or large groups depending upon the purpose and nature of migration.
  • Classification: Migrants, according to their movement can be classified into:
  • Nomadic: In nomadic migration, people migrate not for permanent settlement but mainly in search of food, water, shelter, and better living conditions for both humans and animals. This type of migration is more prevalent in the Himalayan region and is generally done by the people whose livelihood depends on rearing cattle, as they require constant fresh grazing land.
  • Permanent and Temporary Migration: Permanent migration is done with an intention to shift the permanent residence of the migrant to a new country, possibly obtaining the country's citizenship, or within the country in a different state or within the state. In contrast, temporary migration is limited to a time period, perhaps until the end of a work contract or particular program of study. However, both types of migrants significantly impact the economy and society of the destined country and also the country of origin.
  • Forced Migration/Displacement or ‘Demographic engineering: Forced migration is involuntary and generally ‘conflict induced’ (caused by humans) or’ disaster induced’ (caused due to natural calamity). However, the concept of ‘Demographic engineering’ is a deliberate act of the state manipulating population figures for political, ideological, strategic, and economic reasons.

How is it a threat to internal security?

  • Manipulation of migrants: Migration is also seen worldwide with major incidents of refugee movements due to circumstances of violence, persecution, or environmental disasters. The image of refugees being vulnerable to exploitation by terrorist groups could run the risk of migrants being termed as terrorists themselves. This could also be a part of the agenda of these terrorist organizations to generate xenophobic sentiments to further their divisive objectives.
  • State-centric threat: The threats to the state could be direct or indirect. 
  • Direct threats are associated with the possibility of radicalization of refugees or influx of terrorists through refugee movements across borders. 
  • On the other hand, indirect threats are posed by the threats to opportunities or grievances in the receiving population with regard to the distribution and sharing of resources.
  • Clashes due to insecurity: The influx of migrants especially mass immigration in the North-Eastern states has led to the indigenous people feeling overwhelmed with a change in the demographic profile of the state. Hence, the major concerns in terms of national security pertaining to the economic and social security of the region.
  • Conflict of interest: With a lack of economic opportunities and the prevailing sense of insecurity in the local population, there are higher chances of instability arising out of fear. Poverty and deprivation can lead to crimes in desperate circumstances. They also are more vulnerable to terror outfits that can recruit them by promising better prospects and an income.
  • Disturbance in Law and Order: The rule of law and integrity of the country are undermined by the illegal migrants who are engaged in illegal and anti-national activities, such as entering the country fraudulently acquiring identity cards, exercising voting rights in India, and resorting to trans-border smuggling and other crimes.
  • Rise of Militancy: The persistent attacks against the Muslims perceived as illegal migrants in Assam has given way to radicalization within certain sections of the Muslim community. The formation of militant organizations, such as the Muslim United Liberation Tigers of Assam (MULTA) is a threat to national security.

Measures to Tackle Migration

  • International Organisation for Migration (IOM): It provides guidelines to the governments to help them tackle the issues associated with migration. One of the areas of its research is border management assistance, capacity building, and identity management. A long-term strategy for better management is the provision of development assistance to countries of origin to address the dearth of economic opportunities which acts as a push factor.
  • Strict border management: Better border management should be done. Construction of fences close to the zero line with Bangladesh should be completed as early as possible.
  • Improved surveillance system: A strong surveillance system should be installed with modern and upgraded technological equipment.
  • Border fencing: Well-built boundary to stop infiltration of the people from the border.The construction of the joint check posts, along with other infrastructure, should be encouraged.
  • Strengthen domestic laws to manage foreign criminals effectively.
  • Meaningful engagement with neighbouring nations and solicit its cooperation in resolving all outstanding issues so as to better manage the mutual border.

Way Forward

  • Migration as a phenomenon cannot be controlled; however, it can be regulated through the issue of migrant identity and the enactment of provisions discouraging illegal migration. The principles of IOM regarding border management could be adopted for digitization and computerization of records of migrants at the border areas. 
  • Moreover, the crux of resources necessitates bilateral and multilateral agreements to solve the issue amicably. Issues of violence or economic deprivation can be addressed by providing relief to the country by international lending associations like the World Bank.
  • The role of civil society organizations in society becomes important in the context of threat perception and a more welcoming stance towards immigrants. 
  • While national security is on the top of every country’s agenda, there also needs to be a balanced effort at realizing human security for providing assistance to the migrants themselves. 
  • The conditions of war, persecution or economic deprivation in their source countries have to be addressed to ensure their development and the protection of their human rights which are threatened in case of illegal migration and dire conditions of stay in refugee camps.

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