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Migration and the Death of the Celtic Tiger

Our colleague Jaya Ramji-Nogales (left) RamjiNogales_WebPhotohas posted on IntLawGrrls on the recently released report by Martin Ruhs and Emma Quinn for the Migration Information Source on contemporary challenges to Ireland’s immigration policies.

The report’s conclusions are unlikely to come as much of a surprise to most people in Ireland:

The number of unemployed continues to grow, representing an increasing burden on the state. Even given the habitual residency condition on social welfare, the number of non-Irish unemployed workers entitled to support is substantial.

According to CSO, which tracks claims for unemployment and other employment-related government assistance, non-Irish nationals made up 18.5 percent of all persons (80,786 of 435,735) on the Live Register in July 2009. Of those non-Irish nationals, over half were from EU-12 countries.

The difficult economic conditions could result in migrants returning to their countries of origin in large numbers, as EU-10 nationals have the ability to legally return and take up work once conditions improve. Sufficient data to test this hypothesis are not yet available.

If international economic conditions improve, large-scale Irish emigration could resume. There are some indications this may happen: emigration rates overall rose 25 percent between 2006 and 2008. However, net migration remains strongly positive.

In Jaya’s overview of the report, I found her comments about Ireland’s “safe country of origin” principle to be of particular interest:

[Ireland] instituted a “safe country of origin” element into the asylum determination process. Though entirely without basis in international law or in the realities of persecution, such policies create a presumption that asylum seekers from “safe countries of origin” do not need protection. Combined with legislation making carriers liable for transporting unauthorized migrants, this program led to a decline in asylum applications in Ireland after 2002 (a drop that coincided with declines in asylum applications throughout the developing world, likely linked to stricter border control policies in the wake of September 11).

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