AI & Migration / Border Control

Many states and international organizations involved in migration management are experimenting with various new technologies to increase efficiency in complex decision-making and to enhance border security. These experiments range from big data predictions about population movements, to the use of automated decision-making in immigration and refugee applications, to AI lie detectors deployed at airports.

Unfortunately, most of these experiments have not taken sufficient account of their far-reaching impacts on the lives and human rights of people on the move. The Refugee Law Laboratory will be undertaking several projects that aim to bring human rights analysis to bear on these technologies.

These projects build on work with EDRi (European Digital Rights) and other partner organizations, generously funded by the Mozilla Foundation.

If you are interested in helping us develop these projects, please reach out to


Technological Testing Grounds: Border tech is experimenting with people’s lives

November 9, 2020

A new report from the Refugee Law Laboratory and EDRi (European Digital Rights) investigates how new technologies are increasingly being used at the border and to manage migration. Technological Testing Grounds is based on over 40 conversations with refugees and people on the move and shows that much of this innovation occurs without adequate governance mechanisms and does not account for the very real impacts on people’s rights and lives.

The investigation supplements an upcoming report on xenophobic discrimination and emerging digital technologies for immigration enforcement by the Ms. Tendayi Achiume, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance. Both reports find that many countries are exploring technological experiments for the purposes of border enforcement, decision-making, and data mining. From drones patrolling the Mediterranean to Big Data projects predicting people’s movement to automated decision-making in immigration applications, these innovations are justified as necessary to bolster border enforcement. However, these high risk technological experiments exacerbate systemic racism and discrimination and can lead to significant harm within an already discretionary system.

The report’s findings are brought to life with original photography by the Refugee Law Lab’s Filmmaker-in-Residence, Kenya-Jade Pinto

Read the report here: