Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Global Governance and Human Security

First Advisor

Margaret P. Karns

Second Advisor

Jeffrey D. Pugh

Third Advisor

Rosalyn Negrón


This project explores the social construction of migration as a security threat, using the securitization theoretical framework. It comprises a case study of the Dominican Republic where an estimated 250,000 Haitian migrants and their descendants were rendered stateless by a 2013 ruling of the Constitutional Court on their right to citizenship. Migration as a security threat is understudied in South-South migration which accounts for the major part of global population movements. This case study examines how Haitian immigrants are constructed as security threats discursively and through institutionalized practices, ultimately leading to the legitimation of extraordinary security measures towards them. The project explores the role of state and non-state actors in threat construction and examines how these overlap with ethnocultural identity construction. Document and discourse analyses were used to examine a range of textual and non-textual data sources including speeches, policy documents, and publications from political actors and non-state actors. These were triangulated with interviews and survey data to generate a “thick description” of the intersubjective process of threat construction, not just as an elite-driven discursive process resulting in a “state of exception” but also as an insidious process of the routinization of the extraordinary. The history of dictatorship and the narrative of “pacific invasion” as a threat to the Dominican “imagined community” presented an enabling context for securitized cognitive frames to translate national security habitus into migration practice. The study reveals how neutral-sounding laws, and jurisprudence from higher courts have reinforced these cognitive frames and justified extraordinary measures, despite contestation from civil society actors and intergovernmental organizations. Bureaucratic exclusions from access to citizenship, the militarization of borders, and mass deportation then appear as the outcomes of a dynamic, intersubjective securitization process. The project ultimately advances the argument for an approach to securitization theory that combines the two dominant perspectives in the field: one focusing on discourse and the other focusing on institutionalized practice. The focus on South-South migration presents securitized migration as a phenomenon that transcends the developed world. It highlights the need to address the debilitating human security outcomes in migratory flows to the developed and the developing world.

Available for download on Saturday, May 31, 2025