Welcoming the unwelcome: Migration industries and border control for homeless job-seeking migrants in central Copenhagen

Bidragets oversatte titel: Gæstfrihed overfor de uvelkomne: Migrationsindustrier og grænsekontrol i relation til jobsøgende migranter i København

Kristine Juul*

*Corresponding author

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review


As border control increasingly shifts to cities, private charities that engage in caring for non-national homeless migrants risk, unintentionally and unwillingly, serving the so-called ‘migration industries’ as front agencies for European border regimes. Since the 2008 financial crisis, which hit migrant populations in southern Europe particularly hard, the number of homeless migrants sleeping rough in northern European cities has increased. In Copenhagen, these new homeless include jobless West African men who reside in Spain or Italy but are transiently in the city to reboot their lives by collecting empty deposit-carrying bottles left on the streets. Political will to address this rising social problem at state and city levels has so far been limited, leaving the private non-profit charities of central Copenhagen as sole providers of care for homeless migrants. This article examines how these long-established institutions, which used to provide care primarily to locals with substance dependencies or mental health problems, have transformed into migrant industries. For this purpose, prior research on urban borderlands and homeless migrants is reviewed, and documents issued by non-profit charities operating within the field of urban homelessness are analysed. The article focuses on the increasingly hostile elements of state and municipal policies on non-Western migrants, which work to divide ‘our’ homeless from the migrant ‘others’. It also considers the various ways in which charities work to enable different survival strategies to emerge and be maintained among migrants without access to the formal labour market, and finally how charities’ transformed role affects their relationships with local residents.
Bidragets oversatte titelGæstfrihed overfor de uvelkomne: Migrationsindustrier og grænsekontrol i relation til jobsøgende migranter i København
TidsskriftUrban Studies
Udgave nummer11
Sider (fra-til)2369-2387
Antal sider19
StatusUdgivet - aug. 2022


  • Bordering
  • Gentrification
  • Homeless migrants
  • Migration industries
  • Neighbourhood change

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