Ronald Byaruhanga


This article examines transformations in migration and security, arising from COVID-19 prevention measures. It utilises the Copenhagen school to theorise and illuminate the changes in the securitisation of migration and mobility in the United States. The focus on the United States was based on the fact that the country has, on top of being the world's most securitised, been the most severely affected by the pandemic, considering numerical statistics of infected and affected persons, deaths, and socio-economic impact. In doing so, the paper utilised relevant information sourced from online publications such as newspaper articles and other relevant institutional websites of the key agencies in the fight of the COVID-19 pandemic, chiefly the World Health Organisation, Centre for Disease Control, and the United States federal and state governments and academic journal articles. The main argument of the paper is that the COVID-19 pandemic will produce similar effects on migration and security as the September 11, 2001, terror attacks. The lessons gleaned from the current pandemic will most likely be a significant factor in shaping future politics and policies on the securitisation of migration and human mobility. The pandemic's portrayal as a security threat to human health has resulted in significant changes like travel embargoes, suspension of issuance of specific visa categories, and internal mobility controls, and now many countries are demanding for negative test results before allowing in any foreign arrivals into their territories. The paper concludes that the pandemic has ushered in alternative securitisation measures that would cause a shift in migration and security discourse from human-to-human aggression, notably terrorism, to the contagion of the pathogens like the coronavirus.

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COVID-19; Coronavirus; travel restrictions; migration and security; securitisation; mobility; Copenhagen School

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