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Living with Uncertainty

Indefinite Immigration Detention

Melanie Griffiths

Immigration detention is a central tenet of the British government’s response to immigration but remains under-theorised in academia. This article uses testimonies drawn from anthropological research conducted with detainees at an Immigration Removal Centre to examine lived experiences of immigration detention and explore the relationships between detainees and the British state. It suggests that despite being a space of extreme control (both in terms of legislation and daily practice), immigration detention is beset with uncertainty and confusion. Examples are given of chronic instability in relation to mobility, violent ‘incidents’, time frames and access to information. The article examines the repercussions of such instability on individuals and coping strategies employed. It argues that immigration detainees live in a context of continual crisis, in which profound uncertainty becomes normalised. This disorder should be understood as a technique of power, with governance through uncertainty constructing certain immigrants as expendable, transient and ultimately, deportable.

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Karen Valentin

An explicit marketisation and national profiling of Denmark as an attractive country for foreign students has resulted in an increasing number of students from poor countries in the global South, including Nepal, being admitted to Danish colleges and universities. The influx of students from these countries has led to several accusations against them of using enrolment in educational institutions primarily as an entrance point to the Danish labour market. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork among Nepalese students in Denmark this article addresses the intersection of internationalisation of higher education and immigration policy in a Europe with tightened immigration rules for certain nationalities.

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Nancy L. Green

Although mass migration to the United States and to France did not occur until after Tocqueville's visit to America, by rereading Tocqueville's classic De la démocratie en Amérique through the lens of immigration history, we can question some of the common assumptions about Franco-American differences. First, Tocqueville's comparativist gaze needs to be re-examined, especially with regard to the way in which it has been repeatedly invoked during the Tocquevillian renaissance of the last thirty years to differentiate the French and American experiences. Second, if Tocqueville did not discuss immigrants per se, his analysis of voluntary associations points to an important component of civil society which has been present both in France and the United States ever since immigrants began arriving en masse. Theories about the rise and decline of civil society as well as generalizations about Franco-American differences need to be challenged by including immigration associations in a new Tocquevillian analysis of democracy in both countries.

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From Rhetoric to Practice

A critique of immigration policy in Germany through the lens of Turkish-Muslim women's experiences of migration

Sherran Clarence

The largest group of migrants in Germany is the Turkish people, many of whom have low skills levels, are Muslim, and are slow to integrate themselves into their host communities. German immigration policy has been significantly revised since the early 1990s, and a new Immigration Act came into force in 2005, containing more inclusive stances on citizenship and integration of migrants. There is a strong rhetoric of acceptance and open doors, within certain parameters, but the gap between the rhetoric and practice is still wide enough to allow many migrants, particularly women, to fall through it. Turkish-Muslim women bear the brunt of the difficulties faced once they have arrived in Germany, and many of them are subject to domestic abuse, joblessness and poverty because of their invisibility to the German state, which is the case largely because German immigration policy does not fully realise a role and place for women migrants. The policy also does not sufficiently account for ethnic and cultural identification, or limitations faced by migrants in that while it speaks to integration, it does not fully enable this process to take place effectively. Even though it has made many advances in recent years towards a more open and inclusive immigration policy, Germany is still a 'reluctant' country of immigration, and this reluctance stops it from making any real strides towards integrating migrants fully into German society at large. The German government needs to take a much firmer stance on the roles of migrant women in its society, and the nature of the ethnic and religious identities of Muslim immigrants, in order to both create and implement immigration policy that truly allows immigrants to become full and contributing members to German social and economic life, and to bring it in line with the European Union's common directives on immigration.

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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

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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“The Shadow Class”

Immigration and Class in Contemporary South Asian/American Fiction

Maryse Jayasuriya

This article explores the representation of non-elite immigrants from South Asia to the United States in the fiction of Kiran Desai and Ameena Hussein. The works of these two writers shift the conventional representation of South Asian immigration to the United States as a middle and upper class phenomenon to a representation of the ways that non-elite South Asian immigrant experiences connect with the experiences of immigrants from around the world whose mobility is limited and whose imagined version of their prospective host country is shaped by incomplete and even illusory information.

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Pierre Makhlouf

The persecution of ethnic and social minorities during the Second World War led to the creation of customary international human rights law. These laws serve to protect the fundamental rights and civil liberties of all individuals; even when a person is brought before a criminal court their right to justice will be protected. Through its immigration policies, the UK government aims to create a ‘hostile environment’. The detention of migrants has become the norm, and immigrants have been criminalized through the introduction of criminal offences including entering the UK on false or no documents. The increase in foreign nationals convicted of such criminal offences is portrayed as evidence that criminal migrants are a danger to public safety. Laws have been changed and the role of the courts to protect the rights of children to a family life eroded to further the hostile environment.

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Excuses! Excuses!

The Failure to Amend Britain’s Immigration Policy, 1942–1943

Lesley Clare Urbach

The British government’s wartime immigration policy was to refuse admission to anyone from Nazi-controlled territory unless they could prove that they were useful to the war effort. The Independent MP Eleanor Rathbone led the campaign to persuade the government to amend this policy so as to allow refugees into Britain on humanitarian rather than merely utilitarian grounds. Campaigners also pleaded with the government to do its utmost to rescue Jews and facilitate their entry into Palestine, the colonies and the dominions. This article presents the government’s reasons for refusing to recognize humanitarian factors as a basis for admitting Jews to Britain, and cites campaigners in their efforts to influence government policy. It seeks to question the myth that Britain’s response to the Jewish plight was as wonderful as is presented to the public.

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Sergio DellaPergola and Ian S. Lustick

When Scholarship Disturbs Narrative: Ian Lustick on Israel’s Migration Balance Comment by Sergio DellaPergola

Leaving the Villa and Touching a Raw Nerve Response by Ian S. Lustick

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Rainer Münz and Ralf Ulrich

In Germany, as in many other European democracies, immigration

and citizenship are contested and contentious issues. In the German

case it was both the magnitude of postwar and recent immigration as

well as its interference with questions of identity that created political

and social conflict. As a result of World War II, the coexistence

of two German states, and the persistence of ethnic German minorities

in central and eastern Europe, (West) Germany’s migration and

naturalization policy was inclusive toward expellees, GDR citizens,

and co-ethnics. At the same time, the Federal Republic of Germany,

despite the recruitment of several million foreign labor migrants

and—until 1992—a relatively liberal asylum practice, did not develop

similar mechanisms and policies of absorption and integration of its

legal foreign residents.