The Dilemmas of Transnational Mobility
1. Irregular migration and mobility in economic theory Irregular migration – crossing borders without proper authority, or violating conditions for entering another country – has been seen as a threat to the living standards and the cultures of the citizens of rich, predominantly white, First World states. In the 1990s the rise in claims for political asylum by black and Asian migrants to such countries was deﬁned as disguised irregular migration. Public opinion polls conducted in EU member states in 2001 gave ‘race relations and immigration’ as the fourth most important problem facing both the UK and the other states, well ahead of education, health and poverty (The Guardian, 22nd June 2001). This survey played into the stereotype of immigrants as black- or brownskinned people, challenging both national identity and prosperity. But at about the same time, the long policy debate in Europe about how to handle issues of ethnic diversity was overtaken by a more urgent debate about the potential advantages of labour-market recruitment from outside the EU. Both fears of ‘swamping’ among indigenous populations, and the aspirations for civic and political equality among immigrants, were set aside, in favour of economic arguments about the ﬂexibility this would give the labour supplies of the receiving countries, and the skills’ shortages it would remedy. In line with this shift, this book analyses irregular migration primarily in an economic framework, arguing that it is closely linked to globalisation, and very often uses the pathways of the world economy as the means for...
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