dr. A.S. (Arjen) Leerkes

Arjen Leerkes
Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences (ESSB)
Erasmus University Rotterdam

I am an Associate Professor of Sociology at the Department of Public Administration and Sociology and a Full Professor of Migration, Securitzation and Social Cohesion at the Maastricht Graduate School of Governance. I am also affiliated with Research and Documentation Centre (WODC) of the Dutch Ministry of Justice and Security.

Most of my teaching is at Erasmus University Rotterdam (Master programme Governance of Migration and Diversity, Sociology bachelor programme, Erasmus University College). In Maastricht I teach in the Master Programme Public Policy and Human Development, and supervise PhD students. 

My work been published in migration journals, and in various in sociological, criminological, socio-legal, urban studies and social policy journals. In 2009, Amsterdam University Press published my dissertation Illegal Residence and Public Safety in the Netherlands.

In my view, it is important that (a notable percentage of) social scientists do not only offer relevant findings and insights to their students and each other, but that they also interact with governments, NGO's and the wider public. I have contributed to various reports for the Dutch government and parliament, as well as for local governments, and I regularly advise Dutch and international NGO's. I occassionally write blogs and letters to the editor, and regularly comment on the news in the Dutch and other European media. 

Below, you can find a short explanation of my main research interests.

There has been a selective securitization 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 to economic privilege), a cultural threat (undermining ‘Western values’), or as a threat to public safety (terrorism and immigrant crime). That securitization process has coincided with heightened efforts by governments in the Global North to selectively restrict international migration since the 1990s in particular. 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.

This ‘gated globalism’ has included a selective expansion of migration control, both before ‘undesirable’ prospective migrants reach the territory (‘remote control’) and afterwards (‘internal controls’). 

In my research, I aim to understand how states impact patterns of international migration in intended and unintended ways. This has led to various publications on the social operation, effectiveness and legitimacy of immigration regimes, with a focus on migration control (migration policing, immigration detention, deportation and assisted return, admission policies for family remigration, and asylum recognition rates).

A second main research interest is to better understand the implications of the selective securitzation of migration for social cohesion in multi-ethnic societies. I have conducted various studies into how the 'context of reception' - the economic, legal and social conditions in destination societies that structure immigrants’ life chances and impact their incorporation trajectories - shapes patterns of immigrant crime. More recenty, I have begun to also study - and help to reduce - ethnic and socio-economic differences in trust in the police and formal punishment.

  • B. van Alphen, T. Molleman, A.S. Leerkes & J. van den Hoek (2013). Van bejegening tot vertrek. Een onderzoek naar de werking van vreemdelingenbewaring. Den Haag: Boom Lemma
  • A.S. Leerkes (2009). Illegal Residence and Public Safety in the Netherlands. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press
  • A.S. Leerkes, M.R.P.J.R.S. van San, G.B.M. Engbersen & E.T. al (2004). Wijken voor illegalen. Over ruimtelijke spreiding, huisvesting en leefbaarheid. Den Haag: Sdu uitgevers
  • A.S. Leerkes & M.R.P.J.R.S. van San (2001). Criminaliteit en ciminalisering. Allochtone jongeren in België. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press
  • A.S. Leerkes & M.H. Kox (2016). Pressured into deportation? Detainees’ (un)willingness to ‘return’ and the moderating influence of international relations. In D Epps, G Lamphear & R Furman (Eds.), Detaining the Immigrant Other. Global and Transnational Issues (pp. 15-26). New York: Oxford University Press
  • A.S. Leerkes (2016). Managing migration through legitimacy? Alternatives to the criminalisation of unauthorised migration. In S Carrera & E Guild (Eds.), Irregular Migration, Trafficking, and Smugglingof Human Beings. Policy Dilemmas in the EU (pp. 24-32). Brussels: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • G. Engbersen, A.S. Leerkes & E. Snel (2014). Ethnicity, crime and immigration in the Netherlands. In S Bucerius & M Tonry (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Ethnicity, Crime, and Immigration (pp. 766-790). New York: Oxford University Press
  • A.S. Leerkes & D.W.J. Broeders (2013). Deportable and not so deportable: Formal and informal functions of administrative immigration detention. In M Gibney, B Anderson & E Paoletti (Eds.), The Social, Political and Historical Contours of Deportation (Immigrants and Minorities, Politics and Policy) (pp. 79-104). New York: Springer
  • A.S. Leerkes, J. van der Leun & G. Engbersen (2012). Crime among irregular immigrants and the influence of crimmigration processes. In M. Guia, J. van der Leun & M. van der Woude (Eds.), Social Control and Justice: Crimmigration in the Age of Fear (pp. 267-288). Den Haag: Eleven Internatinal Publishers
  • J. de Boom, A.S. Leerkes & G.B.M. Engbersen (2011). Illegale migranten. In De Nederlandse migratiekaart. Achtergronden en ontwikkelingen van verschillende internationale migratietypen (pp. 307-330). Den Haag: Boom Juridische Uitgevers
  • G.B.M. Engbersen & A.S. Leerkes (2010). Towards a Smarter and More Just Fortress Europe. Combining Temporary Labor Migration and Effective Policies of Return. In N.A. Frost, J.D. Freilich & T.R. Clear (Eds.), Contemporary Issues in Criminal Justice Policy (pp. 211-220). Belmont: Wadsworth
  • A.S. Leerkes. Illegaal verblijf en veiligheid in Nederland. UvA (Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam) Prom./coprom.: P. Promotor.
  • G. Engbersen, J. Jansen, M.G. Faber, A.S. Leerkes & E. Snel (2014). Migratiepatronen in dynamisch perspectief Een pilotstudie naar veranderende patronen van arbeidsmigratie uit Polen, Bulgarije en Roemenië. (Extern rapport). : Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam
  • M.E.J. 't Hart, E. Snel & A.S. Leerkes (2014). Welke factoren bepalen de daling van de subjectieve veiligheid in Rotterdam? (Extern rapport). : Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam
  • A.S. Leerkes (2012). Vanaf nu ‘eerste generatie autochtonen’? Demos: bulletin over bevolking en samenleving, 28 (7), 4-5.
  • G.B.M. Engbersen, M. Ilies, A.S. Leerkes, E. Snel & R. van der Meij (2011). Arbeidsmigratie in vieren. Bulgaren en Roemenen vergeleken met Polen. (Extern rapport). Rotterdam: Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam (Afdeling Sociologie)
  • A.S. Leerkes (2010, januari 28). Het verschil in detentiesatisfactie tussen de vreemdelingenbewaring en reguliere gevangenissen verklaard. onbekend, Lunchlezing Dienst Justitiele Inrichtingen, Ministerie van Justitie.
  • A.S. Leerkes, M. Galloway & M. Kromhout (2010). Kiezen tussen twee kwaden. Determinanten van blijf- en terugkeerintenties onder (bijna) uitgeprocedeerde asielmigranten. (Extern rapport). Den Haag: WODC / Ministerie van Justitie
  • A.S. Leerkes (2008). (Dis)functies van illegaal verblijf in Amsterdam en Rotterdam. Rooilijn .
  • J. de Boom, A.S. Leerkes & G.B.M. Engbersen (2006). Asielmigratie en criminaliteit. (Extern rapport). Den Haag: Elsevier Overheid
  • A.S. Leerkes (2006). Ik probeer alleen maar mijn leven te leven”. Uitgeprocedeerde asielzoekers en criminaliteit. (Extern rapport). Amsterdam: Elsevier
  • J. de Boom, A.S. Leerkes & G.B.M. Engbersen (2005). Asiel en criminaliteit. (Extern rapport). Rotterdam: RISBO Contractresearch
  • G.B.M. Engbersen, F.G. Snel, A.S. Leerkes, M.R.P.J.R.S. van San & H.B. Entzinger (2003). Voorbij landsgrenzen: Transnationale betrokkenheid en integratie. (Extern rapport). Rotterdam: RISBO
  • W.E. Bezemer & A.S. Leerkes (2018). Waarom komen jongeren met een migratieachtergrond vaker voor in politieregistraties? (blog). Controle Alt Delete.
  • A.S. Leerkes (2018). Understanding international (im)mobility in times of gated globalism: toward an institutional migration theory (2018, april 23). Maastricht: Maastricht University
  • A.S. Leerkes (2014). NRC Next checkt: 'Herhaalde celstraf bevordert uitzetting'.
  • A.M. Vermeulen & A.S. Leerkes (2014). The ‘crime immigrant and context puzzle’. Explaining regional differences in criminal behaviour among Moroccans in the Netherlands.
  • A.S. Leerkes, E. Boersema & R. van Os (2014). What drives soft deportation? Understanding the rise in assisted voluntary return in the Netherlands. Determinants of International Migration (DEMIG) conference: Oxford.
  • A.S. Leerkes (2014). Effects of immigration detention on migration preferences and detainee health. Post-Deportation Human Rights Project: Boston.
  • A.S. Leerkes (2014). Uitgeprocedeerden vaker en sneller terug.
  • A.S. Leerkes (2014). Civic stratification and crime. Herrenhausen Conference “Re-Thinking Social Inequality”: Hanover.
  • A.S. Leerkes, J.P.L. Burgers, E. Snel & G. Engbersen (2013). Housing the Poor in World Cities. Urban Restructuring of World Cities in Different National Contexts.
  • D.W.J. Broeders & A.S. Leerkes (2009). A Case of Mixed Motives? Formal and Informal Functions of Administrative Immigration Detention. Deportation and the development of citizenship: Oxford, Verenigd Koninkrijk (2009, december 1 - 2009, december 1).
  • G.B.M. Engbersen, J. van der Leun & A.S. Leerkes (2004). The Dutch Migration Regime and the Rise in Crime among Illegal Immigrants. 4th Annual Conference of the European Society of Criminology: Amsterdam (2004, augustus 25).


Visiting address

Office: Van der Goot Building M6-37
Burg. Oudlaan 50
3062 PA Rotterdam

Postal address

Postbus 1738
3000 DR Rotterdam