Prof. Dr. Arjen Leerkes

Professorial Fellow

Research group(s):
6. Migration and Development

There has been a selective securitisation of migration since the 1990s: irregular migration and asylum migration in particular, are increasingly seen as a socio-economic threat (such as to the welfare state or economic privilege), a cultural threat (undermining ‘Western values’), or as a threat to public safety (terrorism and immigrant crime). That process has coincided with heightened efforts by governments to selectively restrict international migration to the Global North. While individuals with the ‘desired’ amount of economic or human capital tend to be welcomed, the majority of the world’s population has increasingly seen its legal opportunities for mobility and immigration being curtailed.

In my research, I aim to understand how states shape patterns of international migration in intended and unintended ways, and at what human costs. Research in that direction has led to various publications on the social operation, effectiveness and legitimacy of different aspects of migration control, including migration policing, immigration detention, deportation and assisted return, admission policies for family reunification, and asylum recognition rates.

My second main research interest is to better understand the implications of the selective securitisation of migration for social cohesion in multi-ethnic societies. I have conducted various studies on how the 'context of reception' (the economic, legal and social conditions in destination societies that influence immigrants’ incorporation trajectories) shapes patterns of immigrant crime. In the near future, I intend to also conduct high-quality research to better understand – and help reduce – ethnic and socio-economic differences in institutional trust (focusing on trust in the police) and formal punishment.

I obtained a PhD in Sociology and Political Science in Amsterdam in 2007. In 2009, Amsterdam University Press published a revised version of my dissertation: Illegal Residence and Public Safety in the Netherlands. My research has been published in various highly-ranked journals in migration studies, sociology, criminology, law, social policy studies and urban studies. I contributed to two books by Oxford University Press.

In my view, it is crucial to also engage with governments, NGOs and the wider public. I have contributed to various reports for the Dutch government, the Dutch parliament, the European Commission, and for local governments (Amsterdam and Rotterdam), and I regularly advise Dutch and international NGOs. I occasionally write blogs and letters to the editor, and regularly comment on the news in the Dutch and other European media.

Selected publications by Arjen Leerkes

Articles (journal, professional, popular)
Leerkes, Arjen, Ramiro Martinez & Pim Groeneveld, 2019, Minority Paradoxes: Ethnic Differences in Self-reported Offending and Official Crime Statistics, The British Journal of Criminology, 59(1): 166-187, DOI: 10.1093/bjc/azy021, More information
Leerkes, Arjen, G. Engbersen, E. Snel & J. de Boom, 2018, Civic stratification and crime: A comparison of asylum migrants with different legal statuses, Crime, Law and Social Change, 69(1): 41-66, DOI: 10.1007/s10611-017-9743-x, More information
Leerkes, Arjen, R. van Os & E. Boersema, 2017, What drives ‘soft deportation’? : Understanding the rise in Assisted Voluntary Return among rejected asylum seekers in the Netherlands, Population, Space and Place, 23(8): 1-, DOI: 10.1002/psp.2059, More information
Engbersen, G. , Arjen Leerkes, P. Scholten & E. Snel, 2017, The intra-EU mobility regime: Differentiation, stratification and contradictions, Migration Studies, 5(3): 1-, DOI: 10.1093/migration/mnx044, More information
Leerkes, Arjen & M. Kox, 2017, Pressured into a Preference to Leave? : A Study on the “Specific” Deterrent Effects and Perceived Legitimacy of Immigration Detention, Law and Society Review, 51(4), DOI: 10.1111/lasr.12297, More information

UNU-MERIT Working Papers
Leerkes, Arjen, Tineke Fokkema & Jonathan Bening, 2020, Community multiculturalism and self-reported immigrant crime: Testing three theoretical mechanisms, UNU-MERIT Working Paper 2020-055

Research reports
Leerkes, Arjen & M. De Hoon, 2019, Blijven vergunninghouders in Nederland? Patronen en determinanten van vervolgmigratie en remigratie onder asielmigranten, cohort 1995-1999, Den Haag: WODC / Ministerie van Justitie en Veiligheid
Timmerman, R., Arjen Leerkes & R. Staring, 2019, Safe reporting of crime for victims and witnesses with irregular migration status in the Netherlands, Oxford: Compas, Oxford University
van Houte, Marieke & Arjen Leerkes, 2019, Dealing with (non-)deportability: A comparative policy analysis of the post-entry migration enforcement regimes of Western European countries, Report commissioned by the 'Van Zwol committtee', More information