This project examines how irregular migrants engage with international human rights law through grassroots activism and litigation in Europe and the United States. By examining court cases and related media reports and working with grassroots organizations on their strategic engagement with human rights, this project will examine the role of irregular migrants in developing human rights legal doctrine.


We will examine questions such as, how does or can human rights law respond to regularised migrants as subjects and creators of rights (instead of as objects and at best beneficiaries of rights)? What is the role of cities and other sub-national spaces as forums for the human rights claims of irregular migrants? How do the rights-claims of irregular migrants’ challenge traditional notions of citizenship as a condition for political participation and rights-protection?


If you have questions about the project or if your organization would like to participate in the research process, please contact Jordan Dez at We would love to hear from you!


November 2020 Seminar: Racial Discrimination and the Human Rights of Migrants

In connection with this grant project, the ACMRL will host a seminar on Racial Discrimination and the Human Rights of Migrants in November 2020. Racial discrimination has rarely been connected with the exclusion of irregular and precarious migrants from human rights protection. While irregular migrant organizations may frame claims and human rights discourse in terms of anti-racism and anti-discrimination, legal scholarship remains largely silent in this area, despite potential openings in human rights law legal doctrine. Responding to this and the attention sociologists, social movement scholars and political theorists have given to these connections, we will host an interdisciplinary seminar in Amsterdam to further develop this critique, in particular in legal scholarship. The results of this seminar will be published in a special issue on topic.

Fieldwork in the Time of Corona:

Though this project was intended to involve fieldwork with organizations in the United States and Europe, due to limitations on travel and to prevent spreading the Corona virus to participants in the research process, fieldwork will take place as much as possible on-line. Organizational members who agree to participate will be asked for interviews to discuss their strategic engagement with human rights. All findings of the research will be discussed in a focus group before being included in the written conclusions of the research (articles, blogs, and a book). Anything written based on organizational research will be shared with participants.

If you are part of an organization of irregular migrants that is active in rights-claiming, claiming city-citizenship, or if you have decided not to use the discourse of human rights when fighting for irregular migrants, we would love to hear from you! If you would like to participate in this research project, please contact Jordan Dez at