Archive for ‘migration’

May, 2014

Superdiversity: innovative policy and practice for a new era

Professor Jenny Phillimore

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Throughout this week I have outlined some of the challenges and opportunities associated with superdiversity. In my last blog I want to think a bit about how we might adapt to address some of these. The scale of the challenges we face is unprecedented and requires adaptation of almost every aspect of society to recognise that the emergence of superdiversity brings a whole new reality.

The first step is to publicly acknowledge the arrival of this new era at the same time accepting that it is a global phenomenon of which British born people are a part. We benefit from mobility and migration in a number of ways. We increasingly live, work and retire overseas: IPPR estimate that 10% of British born live outside of the UK. We are also more likely than ever before to form relationships with people from overseas. We must also acknowledge that the many of the services and goods we enjoy depend on flexible migrant labour. Migrants’ contribution goes above and beyond increasing GDP to impact upon us all in our ability to purchase cheap food, access specialist healthcare in the NHS, provide care for the vulnerable and much more. We depend on migrant labour to do the jobs we do not want or for which we lack skills. We need to change the rhetoric around migration making the debate and discussion more balanced and constructive. I’m not suggesting that we abandon our borders but that we completely separate out the issue of borders from the discussion of the role and contribution of migrants who are already resident.

We need to educate everyone to understand superdiversity in both national and global contexts. From primary schools to professional and university courses we must help people to understand the changes underway and to aid them to develop the intercultural communication skills they will need in order to build connections and provide services to diverse people. As discussed earlier in the week integration is a two way process which requires adaptation from everybody and all institutions [1]. Learning about each other and how to communicate is a major step forward but we also need to realise that the way that we provide welfare services such as health and education has not really changed since the time of Beveridge and certainly does not take into account our 24/7 superdiverse society. Services need to be more flexible to meet the needs of all with GP surgeries open longer hours and based in convenient locations such as supermarkets and A&E departments.

With superdiversity comes super-mobility. We all move more than we used to and migrants in particular move frequently following employment and housing opportunities – this after all is what the Coalition government suggest we do in order to avoid unemployment or costly housing. But our housing stock is static and our renewal programmes focus on stabilising populations. We need new housing solutions. Good quality, self-contained, affordable, well-maintained and temporary housing solutions where people can live for days, weeks or months might be built on brown-field inner city sites to house the increasing population of single people many of who are migrants.

We also need to acknowledge that there are costs associated with migration. And these generally arise because migrants are concentrated in deprived areas that already lack resources. Again we need to accept that migrants are there through necessity – because they cannot afford to live elsewhere. The poor quality of the housing in which they reside in not the fault of migrants but of those landlords who do not maintain their properties.   Regulation and enforcement of employment and housing legislation is essential if migrants are not to be subject to the super-exclusion that places so much pressure on some local areas. Giving migrants (and others) full employment rights so that poor-paid, insecure agency work is less attractive to employers will improve housing choices and perhaps make those jobs more attractive to local people. Where employers depend heavily upon migrant labour there might be some kind of levy, which cannot be deducted from wages, which helps contribute to the local costs associated with migration. Government too could contribute by investing part of visa fees into migration hot-spots.

Language is important. We need to share a common language in order to communicate. The good news is that only just over 0.2% of the population of England and Wales do not speak English. Despite the rhetoric that they “do not want to speak our language” the evidence suggests that almost all migrants do want to speak English. The problem is that our language training is of poor quality, expensive and inflexible failing to reach those working long-hours or women with caring responsibilities. We must improve our language offer and look at the approaches utilised in Germany and Scandinavia where migrants can access 450 hours tailored language training each year utilising a range of methods such as language mentors and volunteer placements that embed migrants in English speaking environments. This will have cost implications but these maybe offset with reduced translation and interpretation costs in the longer term.

We cannot return to a pre-superdiverse era. The changes I have suggested are just a starting point. We also need to consider how we can benefit further from superdiversity for example by utilising the global connections associated with superdiversity and the entrepreneurial skills of migrants to develop new economic opportunities [2]. Actions are urgently required to support individuals and institutions to adapt to the new reality and ensure that integration and inclusion are possible for all – migrants and the communities they live in.

Professor Jenny Phillimore is Professor of Migration and Superdiversity at the University of Birmingham.

Other useful links:

  1. Phillimore, J. (2012) Implementing integration in the UK: lessons for integration theory, policy and practice Policy & Politics 40(4) 5250545
  2. New Migrant Enterprise: Novelty or Historical Continuity? Trevor Jones, Monder Ram, Paul Edwards, Alexander Kiselinchev and Lovemore Muchenje0042-0980 Print/1360-063X
  3. The potential of temporary migration programmes in future international migration policy
  4. The future of migration: Irresistible forces meet immovable ideas
  5. Evaluating Migrant Integration: Political Attitudes Across Generations in Europe
  6. Migrant balancing acts: understanding the interactions between integration and transnationalism
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May, 2014

Migrant integration in an era of superdiversity

Professor Jenny Phillimore

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The advent of superdiversity has in the past few years been juxtaposed with several other trends. Perhaps most importantly there is the global recession and associated austerity cuts introduced in many of the world’s leading countries of immigration. These global developments occur in an environment already unfavourable to immigration and integration. Developments including the re- politicisation of migration, the rise of new right-wing and xenophobic movements, growing use of welfare rationing, and increasing levels of negative media and public opinion, all of which impact on migrants’ ability to integrate. Claims have been made that the increase in diversity has reduced levels of social solidarity in society, and with it support for the welfare state, as the general population are prepared only to contribute to welfare measures for people with whom they share an affinity.   In the combined eras of superdiversity and austerity the successful integration of migrants is more important and more challenging than ever.

Today’s article focuses on the findings of a large scale review of local and experiential aspects of integration undertaken as part of the European funded KING project which is working to help shape the Common Basic Principles on migrant integration for the European Commission. Gary Craig, Rachel Humphris and Marta Kindler were collaborators on this project.

Academics have long outlined the two-way nature of the integration process . True integration can only occur when majority and minority communities adapt to a new reality. This is barely if ever acknowledged by politicians and thus rarely translates into policy and practice. The need for mutual adapation is reinforced by the evidence that shows the extent to which both individual and institutional racism impacts upon migrant and minority communities. Racism prevents minorities from achieving their potential, impacts on social mobility and reduces social confidence restricting social networks. The current anti-migrant, anti-multiculturalism ideology perpetuated by politicians and the media prevents migrants and minorities accessing all integration domains, impacts upon mental and physical health and social mobility. Such ideology legitimises racism while supporting moves to restrict migrants’ access to welfare which then enhances their vulnerability and exclusion.

The KING review provided clear evidence that migrants experienced poor outcomes in the arenas of health, housing, education and employment. Whilst many of these outcomes improve over generations some long-established minority groups have yet to reach parity with the general population. The review also demonstrated that social mixing with non-migrant communities was difficult to achieve because migrants lacked the opportunity to mix or were fearful of racist harassment. Instead migrants relied heavily on peer groups and civil society for support.

Lack of knowledge about institutional structures and systems and local behavioural norms prevents migrants accessing services and interaction with local people. Superdiversity brings challenges associated with newness and novelty of cultures, experiences and problems both for providers and migrants. A key gap in integration initiatives is developing the skills that professionals need to adapt services in an ever-changing, fast diversifying, environment.

Ability to speak the host community language emerges from many research projects as being essential to enable migrant/minority access to services, support the development of social relations with others and to enable participation in networks and forums. Language enables conversations with ‘others’ that have the potential to resist racist sterotyping, at least at individual and local community level. Language enables access to education about how to engage with the system and better quality employment that can help support social mobility and thus reduce exclusion.

Austerity measures have led to a reduction in support for migrant focused initiatives to the point that many EU countries are able to provide little support with integration and adaptation. Scandinavian countries standout in stark contrast to much of the rest of Europe in providing extensive integration programmes that support migrants to access language and citizenship classes which have been demonstrated to impact positively on migrants’ access to employment.

Exclusion and deprivation have enormous impact upon the ability of new migrants and existing minorities to integrate and meet their potential. Furthermore given the economic imperative used as the main justification for migration, migrant down-skilling, poor education outcomes and economic activity levels have an economic, as well as social, opportunity cost. If we continue our laissez-faire approach to integration placing the onus on migrants to integrate without considering the role of the state and its citizens it is likely that we will see the super-exclusion discussed yesterday given that it is predicted that by 2050 around 30% of the UK’s population will have a migrant background.

Professor Jenny Phillimore is Professor of Migration and Superdiversity at the University of Birmingham.

Other useful links:

May, 2014

New migration, poverty and super-exclusion?

Professor Jenny Phillimore

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Yesterday I described how the advent of new migration had led to the emergence of superdiversity.  Today I outline how a combination of state responses to migration and the UK’s de-regulated labour market are combining to bring wide-scale and in some case extreme poverty which might be described as super-exclusion.  In this article I bring together data from a recently published re-analysis of the Survey of New Refugees undertaken with Dr Sin Yi Cheung and from two Joseph Rowntree-funded reviews of poverty that will be published in the next few weeks.  The first looks at the situation of asylum seekers (with Dr Nando Sigona and Jenny Allsop) and the second economic migrants (with Dr Simon Pemberton and Professor David Robinson).

Poverty is often portrayed as the main reason that people migrate.  Of course we know that this is not always the case.  Spousal and family migrants come to join an existing migrant and forced migrants seek sanctuary from persecution although they are often depicted as being drawn to industrialised countries by generous levels of welfare.  Our recent research shows that the rhetoric around migration offering people a better life may be misplaced and that high levels of poverty are the reality for many living in the UK.

Asylum seekers are totally dependent on asylum support because they are not permitted to work.  In 2011-12, an asylum seeking couple with children received 59% of Income Support and a lone parent just 52% – around £36 a week. Evidence shows these levels are so low they struggle to meet everyday needs such as paying for food and transport.  Indeed recently a judicial decision confirmed that freezing rates at such low levels was flawed – a review of support rates will now be necessary.

The need for such a review is re-enforced by the re-analysis of the Survey of New Refugees that showed how asylum seekers experienced a range of health and employment problems even 21 months after they gained refugee status.  In particular it was clear that the living conditions imposed upon asylum seekers impacted upon their ability to integrate into a new life as refugees.  More about integration on Thursday.

But what about economic migrants?  They come to work so their economic situation should be better than asylum seekers and refugees.  The evidence from our review, which included new analyses of the Labour Force and Understanding Society Surveys, found low-paid migrant workers were more likely to experience poverty than UK nationals in low paid employment.  Low-paid, sometimes exploitative work impacted upon their health and well-being and left them more dependent on in-work benefits than the general population.  Their vulnerability to poverty was determined by their place in the labour market, lack of employment rights and the precariousness of their work.  There was clear evidence that they accessed poor housing, and this and long-hours and the dirty, dangerous and difficult nature of their work impacted upon health.  Migrant workers tended to live in areas where resources were already under duress.  They were frequently blamed by local people for living in over-crowded conditions and not maintaining properties when they had little choice about where to live.  Working long hours migrant workers had little time to socialise or engage in education including language classes which had ramifications for their ability to integrate.  Indeed we identified a vicious cycle of poverty that emerged from consequences of de-regulated work and policy responses to anti-migrant sentiment.

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So high levels of poverty are evident within the refugee, asylum seeker and economic migrant populations.  Yet these are migrant statuses that are likely to be in the more favourable economic positions.  JRF has just commissioned a detailed study of destitution which will hopefully shed some light on the lives of those migrants who are not permitted to work and have no access to public funds.  Work in progress for the KING migrant integration project is already beginning to show that family and spousal migrants are living in extreme poverty – not permitted to work, attend college and thus learn English, or access benefits leaves them particularly vulnerable to poverty and exploitation.

Given the extent of migration associated with the emergence of superdiversity it is likely, particularly if governments continue to pursue restrictionist welfare policies and support labour market de-regulation, that we will see poverty on a scale not seen for many decades perhaps the emergence of super-exclusion that may affect the lives of generations of migrants.  Tomorrow I focus on the experiences of migrant women using the maternity system and show how existing approaches to support and care are having tangible effects on infant and maternal mortality and morbidity.

Professor Jenny Phillimore is Professor of Migration and Superdiversity at the University of Birmingham.

Other useful links:

February, 2014

World Government: Not Quite an Idea Whose Time has Come, but No Longer So Far from the Academic Mainstream

Dr Luis Cabrera

I can say without much reservation that I am one of the most avid students of world government alive today. Of course, I’m careful when and where I say that…

Actually, even in my relatively brief academic career (12 years, if you count from the PhD award date), there has been, if not a sea change, certainly a surprisingly strong trend toward serious academics taking the world government ideal seriously again.

Consider this: when my lead PhD supervisor and I were trying to put together a doctoral supervisory committee in the mid-1990s, we approached a staff member at the same US institution who had a solid global reputation as an international relations theorist. He was known for his cutting edge theorization of relations between nation-states. Yet, when approached about helping to supervise a thesis exploring the contemporary case for world government, he came back with a very rapid ‘no.’ It just wasn’t a topic he saw as meriting serious scholarly consideration, he said.

Now, such a response would likely be much harder to give. The past two authors to win the International Studies Association’s prestigious ‘Book of the Decade’ award, Alexander Wendt (2000) and Daniel Deudney (2010), have made world government enquiry a clear part of their work. Wendt, who is enormously influential for his work on how ideas and ideology can shape nation-states’ behaviour, has argued for the ‘inevitability’ of a world state – in 200 years or so. Deudney argues that the continuing threat from nuclear weapons remains so great that world-government creation is a necessity, though a weakly empowered one narrowly focused on weapons control.

Wendt and Deudney are only two of a range of IR scholars, economists, international sociologists and moral theorists who have recently explored the feasibility and desirability of full global political integration. Many others have taken up international institution building on a smaller scale, but still one that would require states to cede significant powers upward.

This might, in fact, be thought of as a second ‘heyday’ in world government thought. The first can be dated roughly from 1945-50. It was spurred by the US nuclear destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, in August 1945. What had been unimaginable in war was suddenly cold reality. This prompted many to think that political realities must be reconceived as well.

This wasn’t  just a fringe few, either. Leading academics – including Albert Einstein – authors, jurists, political figures and civil society leaders around the world called for, or at least expressed openness to, a world government capable of meeting the awful new threat.

The following quotation from Birmingham-area MP Henry Usborne gives a sense of the urgent rhetoric of the time. In his maiden speech to Parliament in 1946, Usborne outlined a plan for Britain to lead the way to a security and political union with like-minded democratic countries that could evolve into full world government:

‘I imagine that this proposal would meet with a great deal of opposition. That I do not mind. I am quite certain that if we doubled the opposition we should get 10 times the enthusiasm from the common people all over the world in support of a proposal such as that. Is the proposal fantastic? Is it Utopian? Yes, it is both fantastic and Utopian. It is just as fantastic as the atomic age in which we now live; it is just as Utopian as the hope of world peace.’

They ‘heyday’ period ended almost as quickly as it had begun, with the advent of the Cold War and fears of Soviet global domination.  Though some academics and others continued to make the case for world government, they remained mostly on the fringes for about the next 50 years.

Today’s resurgence of academic literature on world government, spurred in part by globalization, is distinguished by the range of disciplines involved and the prominence of some of those involved. Their arguments tend to fall into three camps. In the first, authors such as Deudney highlight continuing threats from world government, as well as terrorism and other security issues, as reason to pursue comprehensive forms of integration between nation-states.

The second camp is concerned with democratic rule. Here, ‘cosmopolitan democrats’ argue that, in an age of intensifying globalization and global economic integration, domestic democracies are losing their powers to live under laws of their own making. Thus, democratic decision making should be shifted upward, generally to include all of those who are affected by specific processes of globalization, or by the decisions of global bodies such as the World Trade Organization. Few of these authors would claim the world government title for their work, but several do advocate the creation of powerful, binding global institutions with broad powers to tax and spend for the common good.

A final camp is concerned with the promotion of justice and human rights globally. Here, authors argue that state sovereignty throws up predictable barriers to actually realizing justice or securing the rights of all persons, so forms of integration should be pursued between states. My own work would be situated here. I have argued in a couple of books and several articles that the current global system will routinely underfulfill individual rights: http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/staff/profiles/government-society/cabrera-luis.aspx That’s because it leaves states as the final judges in their own cases about obligations. Imagine if we were all left to judge which rules or laws we would prefer to follow, or especially how much tax we’d like to pay. We’d mean well, but chances are we would see other priorities repeatedly getting in the way of ‘donating’ the tax voluntarily that would be needed to maintain social institutions.

Like most students of world government, I take a very long term view. If it ever will be possible to create global institutions capable of routinely protecting the rights of all persons, I have suggested, we shouldn’t expect to see them develop for many hundreds of years. My recent work has been concerned with the kinds of integration and related changes that might be possible in the near term, and yet would conceivably contribute to the long-term aim. I have considered in particular some potentially rights-enhancing forms of regional integration.

I have enjoyed being able, as this week’s Saving Humans ‘guest blogger’ to share some thoughts on recent developments in democracy and human rights. To recap: on Monday, I discussed a new organization, Academics Stand Against poverty, that is dedicated to strengthening the academic voice and direct positive impact on poverty issues globally. On Tuesday, I discussed my own work on global citizenship and immigration, with emphasis on field research among unauthorized immigrants, and with anti-immigration and migrant-rights activists.

On Wednesday, I talked about current work on human rights and prospects for, or possible reasons to purse, trans-state democracy. I looked there at how India’s National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights had sought to reach out to the global human rights community to bring pressure on its own government to do more against caste-discrimination. Thursday’s entry drew connections between the theoretical concerns there and in the struggle by opposition leaders and activists in Turkey to maintain a free, open democracy, against the backdrop of possible accession to the European Union. Today’s entry took the much longer view on rights and integration.

Luis Cabrera is Reader in Political Theory, Department of Political Science and International Studies, University of Birmingham.

February, 2014

Studying Global Ethics in its Lived Contexts: Unauthorized Migration and Global Citizenship

Dr Luis Cabrera

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IMAGE: Migrant rights activists calling attention to the deaths of migrants on the border crossing by bearing signs that say ‘presente’, signifying that those whose lives have been lost are not forgotten.

I started my professional (post-university) career as a journalist in Seattle for The Associated Press, the global newswire service.  Wire service work has a reputation in the trade as a bit of grind, and there were indeed plenty of overnight shifts spent rewriting local newspaper copy for the wire. There were also many exciting assignments, though. The best part of the job was always getting out into the field, interviewing people from all walks, covering forest fires, earthquakes, floods, massive demonstrations and, my favourite, the occasional NBA Seattle SuperSonics game…

I never went on assignment without feeling like I was getting a window into another world. And I missed that once I had taken my first academic job. I had trained as a political theorist, meaning my tasks now mostly involved hours of trying to get to the bottom of often very complex moral argumentation. It was satisfying work, and exactly the kind of intellectual engagement I wanted after being limited to the often very brief wire service journalistic form. But something was definitely missing.

My first academic post was at one of the four Phoenix-area campuses of Arizona State University. Arizona was then, in the early-mid 2000s, at the epicentre of US tensions around unauthorized migration. US Border Patrol strategy had dramatically shifted migrant routes from California to Arizona, and enforcement and civil society efforts – pro and con migrant – had become intense. I was keen to go when colleagues began inviting me along on experiential education trips to the border with their classes. We learned about migration and border politics from those who lived them daily.

I began to see how it might be possible to incorporate some of what I was learning in the desert into the moral arguments I was developing around global justice and human rights. Ultimately, the project became an exploration of global citizenship, with extensive field work along the border and at related sites. Once more, I felt like I was getting that window into others’ worlds.

It was thrilling, and inspiring at times. I spent a great deal of time interviewing members of two groups in particular: No More Deaths and the Minutemen. No More Deaths members were my exemplars of global citizenship. They fit well into a Saving Humans blog entry, since that was the express mission they had taken on. They conducted patrols of many miles through the southern Arizona desert, seeking out migrants who had become lost or left behind by their human smugglers, to bring them food, water and first aid. The group had arisen in the early 2000s, in response to increasing numbers of migrant deaths as the Border Patrol clamped down on the relatively easy urban crossings and sought to use the desert itself as a deterrent to crossing. The death toll is now in the thousands.

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IMAGE: A booth operated by No More Deaths in Nogales, Mexico, on the Mexico-US Border. Volunteers offered first aid and related assistance to migrants who had been apprehended and returned by the US Border Patrol.

On the other side, often literally, were members of the Minuteman Project. They sought to deter crossing themselves by physically standing vigil – often with sidearms holstered — at the border or farther north, on heavily traveled routes, and reporting any suspected unauthorized migrants to the Border Patrol. They were my exemplar enactors of national citizenship, trying, as they would put it, to protect their country from people who had no right to be there.

Migrants themselves, I came to understand, were also acting as global citizens, and perhaps in the most concrete and most important ways. They crossed borders in search of better life opportunities for themselves and their families in much the same way that people within countries move between cities – or as citizens of the European Union often move between member states. They acted as though we already lived in a world where that was broadly possible, though of course where their lack of citizenship entitlements often meant a life in virtual hiding in the host state.

Interviewing and living side by side with unauthorized migrants – very much the norm in Arizona – for several years eventually persuaded me that they were acting as global citizens in a more proactive way. They were, I thought, engaged in something like a ‘global civil disobedience’ movement.  They were crossing borders without permission in order to better secure broad economic rights for themselves and their families. Most nation-state have formally committed to recognizing and working to ensure such rights for all in the binding UN Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Most rich countries, of course, would reject the idea that they have a responsibility to feed the world, provide employment, etc. But here migrants were, claiming such rights through actions that, though covert, could easily be viewed in a frame of principled resistance.

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IMAGE: Migrant men walking to board a train in Coatzacoalcos, Mexico. Like many Central American migrants, they will ride the top of the trains to near the US-Mexico border, where they will try to walk across.

That particular argument has been controversial, and I recently had a chance to revisit it in a critical exchange (they critique, you defend) for an academic journal.  I do think there’s something to it. And, I believe the insight never would have come if I hadn’t been able to get back into the field, speaking to people about their daily struggles, getting that window into their world and, most of all, hearing moral arguments in their lived contexts. The method is still a tough sell with grant funding agencies, but I find it invaluable for enriching the ethical arguments I seek to make.

Tomorrow, I’ll talk about more recent field work involving Dalit (former untouchable) human rights activists in India, and democracy activists staging street protests in Istanbul.

Luis Cabrera is Reader in Political Theory, Department of Political Science and International Studies, University of Birmingham. 

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