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Re/Making Immigration Policy through Practice

How Social Workers Influence What It Means to Be a Refused Asylum Seeker

Kathryn Tomko Dennler

ABSTRACT

Refused asylum seekers living in the UK face hostility and legal restrictions on the basis of immigration status that limit access to statutory support, employment, and social goods. Working at a non-profit organization that offered an advice service for refused asylum seekers, I observed how the experiences of refused asylum seekers are constituted not simply by restrictions within immigration law, but rather by the ways in which laws are perceived and implemented by a wide range of actors. I argue that the legal consciousness of social workers hostile to refused asylum seekers plays an important role in making policy through practice. I show that social workers prioritized immigration enforcement over other legal obligations, thereby amplifying the meaning of immigration status and deepening the marginalization of refused asylum seekers.

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Refugee Hospitality Encounters in Northern Portugal

“Cultural Orientations” and “Contextual Protection”

Elizabeth Challinor

ABSTRACT

This article discusses the legal and institutional framework of refugee hospitality in Portugal. This sets the context for an analysis of how hospitality encounters take place in northern towns between asylum seekers, refugees, voluntary hosting institutions, public services, and volunteers. The aim is to enquire into the conflicting expectations, morals, and values of these different people and institutions, and into how they are managed and negotiated in practice. Through focusing on the “moral subjectivities” of individuals, the data elucidates the tensions that arise between charity-based and rights-based approaches, how misunderstandings arise and are avoided through engaging in “contextual protection,” and how linear transitions from hospitality to hostility cannot be presumed.

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Refugia Roundtable

Imagining Refugia: Thinking Outside the Current Refugee Regime

Nicholas Van Hear, Veronique Barbelet, Christina Bennett, and Helma Lutz

ABSTRACT

Against the background of the refugee and migration crises of the last three years, this contribution takes as a starting point recent proposals that explore alternatives to the current international migration and refugee architecture. One strand of proposals explores the idea of new nations, cities, or polities for refugees and migrants—often dismissed as fantasies by many commentators. After briefly reviewing these proposals, the article explores the possibility not of a new “refugee nation,” but rather a new kind of transnational polity—Refugia—created and governed by refugees and migrants themselves, and which links refugee and migrant communities globally. Such a transnational polity is imperfectly prefigured in many of the transnational practices that refugees and migrants deploy and the environments in which they find themselves today. Consolidating them pragmatically into a common polity—Refugia—might prove to be a way out of the current impasse.

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Sanctuary City Organizing in Canada

From Hospitality to Solidarity

David Moffette and Jennifer Ridgley

ABSTRACT

In recent years, migrant justice organizers in Canada have developed campaigns aimed at building, legislating, and enforcing municipal commitments to alleviating and resisting the harms done by federal immigration enforcement, and ensuring migrant access to municipal services. As a result of these efforts, some cities, including Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, and Hamilton, have declared themselves “sanctuary cities,” and campaigns centered around this concept have emerged in other localities across the country. In this article, the authors—who are themselves involved in sanctuary city organizing—reflect on the concept, and offer a critical assessment of these organizing efforts. We provide a brief history of these campaigns in Canada, discuss the impact of these policies in cities where they have been adopted, reflect on the types of politics that inform notions of sanctuary, hospitality, solidarity, and resistance, and offer some lessons for moving forward.

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Theophilus Kwek

ABSTRACT

In February 2017, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) released a damning report of human rights abuses perpetrated against the Rohingya. The report was based on interviews with Rohingya fleeing from Myanmar since 9 October 2016, with research continuing up to January 2017. Many recounted personal experiences of violence and physical, life-threatening harm. The report received some attention among humanitarian agencies (many of which have been banned from accessing Rakhine state) but was largely ignored by the international press. Headlines that week focused on the Trump administration’s attempts to defend its travel ban. This poem contains fragments and modifications of the report. It is not an attempt to supplant the voices of those at the heart of the report, but—by stripping down its language—an attempt to make (and mend) our ways of reading (and hearing) their stories.

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Undocumented People (En)Counter Border Policing

Near and Far from the US Border

Denise Brennan

ABSTRACT

This article examines undocumented people’s everyday lived experience in the United States where their legal status is criminalized. It asks how they live with constant threat and surveillance. It highlights their strategies of invisibility as well as their generous contributions to their communities. It argues that these acts of “community caretaking” are acts of “hospitality” that demonstrate their “good citizenship.” Every time undocumented people conduct “know your rights” workshops, they model citizenship in action. The article also explores the other side of the daily equation to stay safe and spotlights undocumented people’s encounters with law enforcement agents. Agents do not act in lockstep, but rather make decisions in split seconds that can change undocumented people’s lives forever. Drawing from ethnographic field research in migrant communities inside the “100-mile border zone” as well as deep in the US interior, the article argues that “border policing” happens far from the border.

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Undoing Traceable Beginnings

Citizenship and Belonging among Former Burundian Refugees in Tanzania

Patricia Daley, Ng’wanza Kamata, and Leiyo Singo

ABSTRACT

This article examines the sense of insecurity experienced by former Burundian refugees following their acquisition of legal citizenship in Tanzania. Using the concept of ontological security, it explores the strategies devised by the new citizens and their former refugee selves to negotiate a normative and stable identity in Tanzania, a country with a postcolonial history of contested citizenship and depoliticized ethnicity. Our argument is that the fluidity of identity, when associated with mobility, is vilified by policy-makers and given insufficient attention in the literatures on ethnicity and refugees in Africa, yet is important for generating a sense of belonging and a meaningful life away from a troubled and violent past. This fluidity of identity offers a significant mechanism for belonging even after the acquisition of formal citizenship.

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Kim Knibbe, Brenda Bartelink, Jelle Wiering, Karin B. Neutel, Marian Burchardt, and Joan Wallach Scott

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Assessing and Adapting Rituals That Reproduce a Collectivity

The Large-Scale Rituals of the Repkong Tantrists in Tibet

Nicolas Sihlé

ABSTRACT

Tantrists, non-monastic religious specialists of Tibetan Buddhism, constitute a diffuse, non-centralized form of clergy. In an area like Repkong, where they present a high demographic density, large-scale supra-local annual ritual gatherings of tantrists are virtually synonymous with, and crucial for, their collective existence. In the largest of these rituals, the ‘elders’ meeting’ is in effect an institutionalized procedure for evaluating the ritual performance, its conditions and effects, and, if necessary, for adjusting aspects of the ritual. At a recent meeting, the ‘elders’ decided to abandon a powerful and valued but violent and problematical component of the ritual, due to its potential detrimental effects on the fabric of social relations on which the ritual depends for its continued existence. Thus, a highly scripted, ‘liturgy-centered’ ritual (per Atkinson) can be adapted to the social context. The specialists of these textual rituals demonstrate collectively an expertise that extends into the sociological dynamics surrounding the ritual.

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Assessing Ritual Experience in Contemporary Spiritualities

The Practice of ‘sharing’ in a New Age Variant of Umbanda

Viola Teisenhoffer

ABSTRACT

Seeking to attain balance and well-being through what practitioners call ‘spiritual development’, the ritual practice in Paris of Umbanda—an Afro-Brazilian religion—is emblematic of the orientation that characterizes contemporary spirituality. In this context, regular public mediumistic rituals are aimed at transforming participants into beings open to the teachings of ‘spiritual entities’, which they embody for their own and others’ benefit. In this process, specialists and participants are explicitly and systematically invited to ‘take stock’ or ’share’, that is, to revisit the rituals they perform. This article argues that ‘sharing’, which may also be found in other forms of contemporary spirituality, is not only an exegetical exercise that participants must regularly submit to in order to assess how these rituals affect them. It may also be understood as a ritual device that the efficacy and reproduction of such practices depend upon.