David Mednicoff


In many societies, including the United States, non-citizen migrants are increasingly seen as a problem of national security. This perception is in line with the nature and diversity of migration in an era of globalization, which brings waves of people from one country or area to others. It also comports with the idea that security increasingly encompasses subjective and politically-constructed issues that fit into the category of existential or identity threats. A government’s consideration of an issue as a security challenge has implications; the issue receives privileges in terms of national attention and economic resources. Thus, securitizing a policy problem is the surest way of prioritizing it.

The Author’s concern in this Article is with some of the implications of the fact that national security issues are increasingly more likely to be framed in terms of migration and movement of people than in terms of missiles and military capacity. One important general implication is that national security policy is shifting to include a wide range of national and state legislators and law enforcement agents along with military officials. Thus, national security is defined and regulated in the legal arena. Much of the thrust of this legalization and democratization of security policy is the restriction of legal migrants and migrants’ legal rights. Because of this, the securitization of migration policy is not regarded favorably by many legal and other commentators. Migration policy has turned into a highly-charged issue of national security that is the cause of widespread difficulties.

The Author proceeds with his analysis of these issues in three stages. Part I introduces Qatar as an exemplar Gulf Arab state, along with its current pressures around legal reform and non-citizen workers. Part II contextualizes the issue of the rule of law and identity in contemporary Arab politics generally. In Part III, the Author discusses the law and politics of citizen regulation as a security issue in Qatar and the Gulf. In Part IV, the Author draws implications from Qatar and the Gulf regarding the securitization of regulating migrants more generally.