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This article aims to critically examine the development of alternatives to immigration detention policies. In the European Union, the emergence of alternatives to detention in the immigration framework is a relatively new phenomenon, strongly inspired by the criminal framework and enshrined in a movement of increased regulation of the immigration detention regime. Through promoting this notion, civil society has sought to engage in a constructive dialogue with States on the use of detention and the possibility to use less coercive and more human rights compliant approaches when dealing with migrants. In Europe, while these campaigns have yielded some positive results, one can question whether, when implemented, they have led to a humanisation of migration policies or, on the contrary, to an increase in the criminalisation of migrants. In view of the above, this article introduces briefly the different understandings of what are alternatives in the framework of immigration detention. Secondly, it analyses their current state of implementation in the EU European Union, both from the legal and political perspective. From this analysis, some opportunities and risks associated with such developments are presented. Finally, possible ways forward are proposed to support civil society’s positioning on this issue.

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