This article proposes border abolitionism as both a political and an analytical framework for deepening critiques of border, migration, and asylum regimes worldwide. Abolitionist perspectives have been associated primarily with questions of criminalization and mass incarceration and thus articulated as a project of prison abolitionism. Importantly, migrant detention and deportation comprise another major pillar of the entrenchment of the carceral state. While critical migration scholarship and No Borders activism have been confronted with the increasing criminalization of immigration and a more general punitive turn in immigration enforcement, engagements with carceral abolitionist perspectives have largely been quite recent. Seemingly disparate struggles increasingly bring into sharper focus a multifaceted critique of what we call the confinement continuum. Not reducible to detention in migrant jails, the confinement continuum is the nexus of heterogeneous modes of confinement that migrants experience, from the fundamental condition of being stuck or trapped in a border zone to the consequent forms of border violence, as well as other forms of coercion that characterize the more general racialized sociopolitical condition of migrant subordination far beyond any physical border site and encompassing the full spectrum of migrant everyday life. Thus, migrants’ and refugees’ struggles and demands exceed a narrow focus on borders alone and frequently enact an incipient politics of abolitionism: migrants and refugees challenge the interlocking bordering mechanisms affecting them while always also repudiating and resisting the biopolitical constrictions that confine them to degraded conditions of life and articulating broader claims for social justice and visions of new and better ways of life.

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