Chapter 21: Illegalized refugees seeking protection in the Hong Kong economy
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This chapter reviews years of ethnographic work the author conducted with asylum seekers in Hong Kong. Focus is placed on the experiences and processes of illegalization of one group of disenfranchised migrants in the semi-autonomous region, as well as the implications that public policy and individual practices generate in relation to asylum and the economy. Hong Kong is a global city by most international standards. It offers economic opportunities that have been taken advantage of by migrants whose agency has contributed to reshape the local asylum sphere, at a time when low-skilled and miserably paid job required foreigner workers to retain profitability. This chapter examines the economic activities and survival strategies of asylum seekers in the context of the global city before the current pandemic. In so doing, it reasons on the regulative mechanisms that manipulate the agency of those seeking protection and the responsibilities of this group in establishing and strengthening the justification for their illegalization.

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