Up to 5m undocumented migrants to be protected from deportation, says Obama

President Obama announced a much anticipated executive order that will protect up to 5m undocumented migrants from deportation. It isn’t perfect and it is not a long term regularisation as it doesn’t offer a pathway to citizenship. But it is nonetheless a very good news.

ObamaThe opposition of the Republican Party has repeatedly obstructed over the last decade any proposals for a comprehensive immigration reform.

Fascinating to listen to the range of historical, pragmatic, and moral arguments that Obama lists in the speech to justify his decision to protect those undocumented migrants who have been in the US for a minimum of 5 years, fit a number of criteria and ‘come out of the shadow’ from deportation (temporarily): America is a land of immigrants and always will be, America is a meritocratic society, America is a country where everyone is equal and has the right to have a chance and the duty to pay taxes and contribute common good, and America values family.

The analysis of Obama’s reasoning offers a lens through which to understand what ‘being American’ as an ideological construct is today. It defines the boundaries of an imagined community of values that the President hope to talk to and ultimately mobilise in support of the executive order (and eventually vote for the Democrats). Many observers have juxtaposed Obama’s previous stand on comprehensive immigration reform and regularisation and his record has the President that oversaw the largest number of deportations in American history accusing him of ambiguity and incoherence. Instead, this speech offers a more political explanation of why and how the two positions go hand in hand for his imagined America.

Pluto Bloch Sigona ZetterIf we move our gaze to this side of the Pond, what is the imagined community that David Cameron, Nigel Farage and others project and aim to realise? Currently there is no senior politician that talks openly of a regularisation for undocumented migrants – although this doesn’t necessarily mean that a de facto regularisation might not happen. Over 120,000 undocumented children – half of whom are UK-born to irregular migrant parents – live a broken youth. They are denied the right to dream a future in the country where they were born or spent most of their lives. Their families live in continuous fear of detection and deportation, and find increasing difficult to find accommodation because landlords have been entrusted with immigration control duties, and employment due to highly mediatic workplace raids that spread fear among potential employers.

For a more detailed analysis of the condition of undocumented children, young people and family in the UK:

-  Sans Papiers: The social and economic lives of young undocumented migrants (Bloch, Sigona and Zetter 2014)

No Way Out, No Way In (Sigona and Hughes 2012)

- UK’s DREAMers? Undocumented children in the UK –  TEDx talk

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Recasting integration policy and discourse, my contribution to Bright Blue’s Immigration Commission

In September 2014, the Conservative think-tank Bright Blue hosted an oral evidence session on immigration. A team of high-profile commissioners interviewed experts from academia, government, journalism, the third sector and business. There were eight main sessions: business and growth; work and poverty; education, research, innovation and skills; local communities and public services; refugees, border control, visas and detention centres; families and children; and integration. I was invited to contribute to the discussion on integration. The interview panels included: David Goodhart, Carlos Vargas-Silva, and Sunder Katwala.

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New issue of Migration Studies with symposium on the impacts of irregular status

Migration Studies, OUP

Migration Studies, OUP

The new issue 2(3) of Migration Studies is out. It contains a short symposium on the impacts of irregular status with contributions by Elzbieta Gozdziak, Janina Sohn, Daniela Borodak and Ariene Tichit. Using ethnographic methods, Gozdziak examines how irregular immigration status affects the educational opportunities of children in the US, concluding that ‘the kind of assistance and support Latino students need will not come solely from immigration reform and policy changes, but rather paradigm shifts in our attitudes toward and programs for Latino children and their families as well as policies aimed at alleviating poverty of immigrant families’ (Gozdziak, 2014, pp. 392–414). The nexus immigration status and educational attainments is the focus also of Söhn’s article (2014). Borodak and Tichit explore the impact of status on migration projects and conclude that, while ‘the total duration of migration to a foreign country is the same for regular and irregular migrants”, irregular migrants move less due to constraints of status (Borodak and Tichit, 2014, pp. 415–447).

Closely related to the theme of the symposium, this Migration Studies issue also includes a review essay by Franck Duvell on “Human smuggling, border deaths and the migration apparatus” (Duvell, 2014).

The collection also includes three theoretically driven pieces by Oliver Bakewell on the ‘re-launch’ of migration systems theory (Bakewell, 2014), Roger Waldinger on an agenda for a sociological engagement with ‘emigrant politics’ (Waldinger, 2014); and Cheng, Young, Zhang and Owusu on a comparative exploration of internal migration in China and the EU (Cheng, Young, Zhang and Owusu, 2014). An editorial by Alan Gamlen introduces the collection.

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Mare Nostrum, Triton and the UK

Yesterday night (30 October) I spoke on BBC Radio 5 Live on why the UK government decision to opt out of rescue operations in the Med is not only morally wrong but also grounded on a false understanding of the causes of migration. Here the link to the podcast: bbc.in/1E6RTVv22.38-29.44]

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