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Archive for the ‘Immigration and the Politics of Belonging Blog Carnival’ Category

Liam Thornton: The Culture of Control and Reception Conditions for Asylum Seekers in Ireland

November 16, 2009 2 comments

logoThis post is contributed by our regular member Liam Thornton. You can read about Liam on our Contributors page.

A central concern of the welfare state within post-modern welfare debates is the use of discipline, whereby the democratic-welfare-capitalist society is the disciplinary or controlling society. Asylum seekers can be viewed as a threat to the functioning of the welfare state. Welfare state regimes, when they were being formulated, were addressed to citizens. However, the welfare state only ever provided a modicum of support to those relying on it. The welfare state can, in certain situations, be considered a penal institution, whose abstract penality is all the more pervasive when those outside the contours of entitlement seek to rely on basic state supports. Geddes argues that “the bogus myth of welfare scrounging” has polluted contemporary immigration and protection debates.

The welfare state has become a forum for exclusion of asylum seekers from mainstream welfare provision (For information on current reception regimes for asylum seekers in Ireland, see here). Current literature on reception conditions for asylum seekers in Ireland fails to properly account for its punitive nature. The current reception conditions in place developed against a background of heightened concern about growing number of asylum seekers and other persons seeking protection arriving in Ireland (see here). Read more…

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FLAC: Social Welfare and the Protection Regime

November 16, 2009 5 comments

This is a contribution from Saoirse Brady, FLAC’s Policy & Campaigns Officer.

logoAsylum seekers and other persons seeking protection often appear to be excluded from Irish society.  In fact, the Irish government has taken a number of steps to ensure that persons within the asylum and humanitarian leave to remain process cannot easily integrate into Irish society.

By introducing the policies of direct provision and dispersal, the government has added to this sense of exclusion for individuals seeking asylum or another form of protection.  “Direct provision” is the scheme whereby asylum seekers and people seeking other forms of protection are given accommodation on a full-board basis with all their basic needs apparently provided for directly.  Direct provision residents receive a weekly payment of 19.10 for an adult and 9.60 for a child, unchanged since its introduction in 2001.  The dispersal scheme ensures that individuals who apply for asylum are dispatched to different parts of the country.  Often they are removed from residential areas or big towns and sent to remote or rural locations.  Transport is limited and given their meagre allowance, it is often difficult for them to leave their accommodation centres to socialise or interact with other members of Irish society.  This obviously has implications for the social inclusion of direct provision residents.  In its concluding observations to Ireland’s first national report, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination noted it “is concerned at the possible implications of the policy of dispersal of and direct provision for asylum-seekers” under article 3, which prohibits discrimination.

Furthermore, the integration of asylum seekers and other direct provision residents does not fall within the remit of the Office of the Minister for Integration, set up in 2007.

Read more…

Elaine Dewhurst: Irregular Migration in Ireland

November 16, 2009 5 comments

This post is contributed by Dr. Elaine Dewhurst. You can read more about Elaine on our Guest Contributors’ Page.

logoThey clean your hotel room, serve you in restaurants, pick your vegetables, clean your office, build your houses, mind your children and they may even entertain you. While many of these people are regular workers, there is a real possibility that these workers are, in fact, irregular migrant workers (sometimes referred to as “illegal” or “undocumented” workers). Due to their status as “illegal”, they strive to conceal their identities and their lives in case they are subject to deportation. But how do migrant workers become irregular and what is their status in Irish employment law?
How do migrant workers become irregular? The majority of migrant workers working in Ireland have the requisite permission to work here either because they are from a European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA) country and thus benefit from free movement or because they have been given specific permission by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (such as an employment permit) to work in Ireland. However, there are some migrant workers in Ireland who do not have permission to work in Ireland and they are referred to as irregular migrant workers (Immigration Act 2004, s. 5(2) and Employment Permits Act 2003 (Ireland), s. 2(2) as amended Employment Permits Act 2006 ).

Read more…

Irish Refugee Council: An Invisible Social Group – Sexual Minority Asylum Seekers in Ireland

November 16, 2009 1 comment

This post is contributed by Samantha Arnold, Policy Assistant at the Irish Refugee Council.

Tlogohe persecution of sexual minorities (gay, lesbian, bisexual and/or transgender individuals) is not a new phenomenon. However, issues arising with regards to qualification and substantive rights have only recently come to the fore  (see here, here and here)

The Qualification Directive, as well as the Irish Refugee Act 1996, acknowledges the right of sexual minorities to seek asylum (under the social group nexus). However, in relation to the Qualification Directive it is specifically stated that “[s]exual orientation cannot be understood to include acts considered to be criminal in accordance with national law of the Member States…”

Those who suffer from serious harm are also entitled to protection under European Union and Irish law. Under the Qualification Directive, the applicant must establish ‘substantial grounds… for believing’ that a person may suffer serious harm if returned to their country of origin or habitual residence.  This is problematic as it places more of the burden on the applicant rather than a shared responsibility to establish a well-founded fear of persecution (see here)

Read more…

Immigrant Council of Ireland: Probing the Citizenship Regime

November 16, 2009 1 comment

logoThis post is contributed by Ruth Evans, Media and Communications Officer at the Immigrant Council of Ireland.

Earlier this year, a woman came to the Immigrant Council of Ireland for information about a particular issue when, almost as an aside, it emerged that she had applied for citizenship of this country by naturalisation.

She is the single parent of several young children and earns less than €500 a week.  Clearly, she would be granted social welfare assistance of some kind if she applied for it but, knowing that to do so would rule out any chance of her citizenship application being successful, she has never applied for State benefits and struggles by under her own steam. Making a decision not to access social welfare despite financial hardship, even if caused by redundancy, is not unique to this client.  It is something we hear repeatedly from callers to the ICI’s Information and Referral helpline.

Accessing social welfare payments is one of the grounds for refusal of citizenship applications in this country.

After waiting two years for her application to be processed, our client received a letter from the Government, which she assumed would contain the Minister’s decision whether or not her application was successful.  Citizenship decisions are made at the absolute discretion of the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform.

There was no decision in the letter.  Instead, our client was informed that the Minister had deferred making a decision for another 12 months so that he could ascertain that she remained in employment and financially independent of State funding during that time.

Read more…

Agnieszka Martynowicz, Irish Penal Reform Trust: Hidden Borders and Operation Gull

November 16, 2009 1 comment

This post is contributed by Agnieszka Martynowicz on behalf of the Irish Penal Reform Trust. You can read more about Agnieszka on our Guest Contributors’ Page.

logoDo you remember the first scene of ‘Love Actually’, the arrivals hall at Heathrow, people hugging and kissing, saying hello? There is so much happiness in these first few seconds of the film; so much of the feeling of safety and joy at being re-united with the people one loves. As someone who left their own country nine years ago to come and live in Ireland, I know that feeling too, being welcomed and awaited on either side of my journey – whether in Warsaw or Belfast or Dublin.

But this is not the experience of everyone landing in Belfast, and especially not those who chose to travel there from Africa, Asia, South America… If you hold a passport from one of the non-EEA countries, you have more chance of being met by UK Border Agency’s ‘Operation Gull’ team, asked for your papers, tickets, asked to open your luggage, hand-over your mobile phone, possibly arrested and taken to a police station where you may spend up to 7 days not knowing what will happen next. You may never get to the arrivals hall to meet your friends or loved ones who await you there.

In 2007, I had an opportunity to observe Operation Gull as part of an investigation by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission into immigration detention in Northern Ireland. For two days, we observed the interaction of UKBA’s officers with people disembarking from domestic flights at Belfast City Airport, observed the searches and interviews, spoke privately to those who were detained at the airport, and to some who were held in police stations in Northern Ireland. We found evidence of racial profiling in immigration enforcement; the use of anti-terrorism stop and search powers to justify internal immigration control; inconsistency and arbitrary decision-making in relation to arrest and detention, stopping people on the basis of a “feeling” or “something not being quite right”. More often than not, the main accusation against those who were stopped was that they had gained entry to the UK by deception, and that they actually always wanted to travel on to the Republic of Ireland.

There is no easy way of establishing how many people are detained in Northern Ireland through Operation Gull every year, as information about it is scarce, to say the least. In the Republic of Ireland, 961 people were detained in prisons in 2008 for immigration-related reasons, many of them for what Frances Webber, an English barrister specialising in immigration law, once termed “crimes of arrival”. We can suppose that quite a few detainees so held were arrested on the Belfast to Dublin train by officers of the Garda National Immigration Bureau who run their own ‘version’ of ‘Operation Gull’ south of the Border. In 2005, a report into immigration detention in Ireland concluded that immigration detainees are a particularly disadvantaged group, not having access to services which are available to immigrants, they may not be made aware of their rights and entitlements or may not be able to exercise them because of language and/or literacy difficulties. This is also true in Northern Ireland.

I wish that those policy makers who so easily talk about “flood-gates” opening for migrant workers, about “bogus asylum-seekers” or about “managed migration” would take some time to sit in a departure lounge of an airport and look carefully around them. They should look at those saying goodbye to their families, friends, countries, for a while or forever. They should listen to Luka Bloom’s song “No matter where you go, there you are” which describes the reality of migration so incredibly well. Even then, they will only ever get a glimpse of how it really feels to say goodbye to people and places that one really loves, and to make a choice to leave in search of a safer, better life. They will probably never experience what it feels like when that dream ends in a prison or a police cell.

Read more…

Blog Carnival – Immigration and the Politics of Belonging

November 16, 2009 Leave a comment

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Good Morning! Welcome to our first blog carnival, titled ‘Immigration and the Politics of Belonging’.

The blog carnival is roughly divided into two sections. We will begin by posting pieces which examine an important area of Irish immigration and asylum policy which has been of particular relevance in the past year.  As the day wears on, we will begin to post pieces which examine immigration and the governance of minorities both in Ireland and abroad. Posts will appear at the rate of one an hour, beginning at 8 a.m, and we will finish with a ‘wrap up’ post. I confess that the original intention was that I would draw all of the posts together into a seamless whole but I have thought better of that plan, for now. Our carnival has produced a collection of sometimes overlapping and sometimes conflicting fragments, and as such, perhaps, provides a better sense of the chaos that marks Ireland’s attitude to its migrants and minorities.

Our blog events – and there will be more – are part of an effort to build a substantial community of human rights scholars around the HRinI project. We are always open to readers’ proposals for guest posts and blog events. You can send us a direct message via our facebook fan page or on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/humanrightsblog, or you can email any of the regular contributors.

I hope that today’s blog carnival will spark your interest in questions of belonging in Irish immigration and minority policy, and in immigration to Ireland more generally. Some of you may be interested in doing further reading in this area. So I have set up a library on citeulike which contains references to relevant books and articles.

I would like to thank all those who have contributed posts to the blog carnival (especially Liam for his editorial assistance), to wish you all a stimulating read and to invite you to contribute to the discussion in the comments.

Mairead.

The image above is a ‘Wordle‘ of the speech which Brian Lenihan TD made as Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform at the launch of the Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill 2008. It will be the logo of this blog carnival. Wordle, you may be interested to know, generates images from source text depending on the prominence of the words in that text.