Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Political Science

First Advisor

Cigdem Çidam




migrant, migration, asylum, refugee, smuggling, Turkey, human rights, border, European Union


This thesis examines how state responses to irregular migration impact human smuggling activity and the experiences of asylum seekers in Turkey and the European Union within the context of the current refugee crisis. To do so, I first discuss relevant global and regional policy frameworks regarding border security, human smuggling, and the rights of displaced people. I then embark on a case study of the Eastern Mediterranean Migration Corridor from Middle Eastern and North African states through Turkey to the Schengen Zone, a primary irregular pathway for migrants seeking asylum in the EU. Turkey hosts more internationally displaced people than any other country in the world, but most do not wish to stay. While the many limitations of Turkey’s migration and asylum framework push transit migration, restrictive border policies incentivize migrants to seek out human smugglers. Smuggling has immense human costs: over fifteen thousand irregular migrants have died on the Mediterranean since 2014 and this trend shows no signs of stopping. I investigate the broader implications of this phenomenon and provide policy suggestions to better prepare states to receive and protect displaced people. I conclude by arguing that if states wish to stop irregular migration and human smuggling, demand must be eliminated by adopting less militarized responses and providing access to timely, regular channels to claim asylum.