HKS Authors

See citation below for complete author information.

Professor of the Practice of Health and Human Rights, HSPH; Jeremiah Smith Jr. Lecturer in Law, HLS


Countries and regions that have long prided themselves on their immigrant identity and histories of refugee protection are now at the forefront of draconian migrant exclusion practices. These practices are not new. But contemporary strategies for promoting non-entrée are ever more far-reaching. Of particular concern for human rights is the impact of the rapidly expanding exclusion of humanitarian migrants in vulnerable categories including children. By pushing humanitarian responsibility for ‘distress migrants’ onto poorer neighbouring states, wealthy destination countries are directly complicit in causing egregious harm in two ways. First, they are denying refugee children and other distress migrants access to vital humanitarian protection on their territory, in contravention of binding legal obligations. Second, through the development and proliferation of deliberate migration deterrent policies, these same states are willfully relegating distress migrants to areas known for their rampant violence and lawlessness. This chapter will explore the effects of migration externalization on distress migrant children and their families, in both the Mediterranean and Caribbean basins. It will highlight state-induced obstacles to protection facing populations who are seeking protection in the EU but are stranded in Libya and then repatriated to their Sub-Saharan homes, as well as populations prevented from seeking protection in the US.


Digidiki, Vasileia, and Jacqueline Bhabha. "Against the best interests of the child: the global injustice of migrant externalization." Handbook of Migration and Global Justice. Ed. Leanne Weber and Claudia Tazreiter. Edward Elgar Publishing, 2021, 100-118.