Irregular Migration
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Irregular Migration

The Dilemmas of Transnational Mobility

Bill Jordan and Franck Düvell

Irregular Migration is an extremely timely and topical book, analysing the fundamental tensions at the core of present attempts to manage the movement of population in today’s world. Recent events around the globe have prompted a reappraisal of the emerging consensus on migration control.
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Chapter 4: Why They Come

The Dilemmas of Transnational Mobility

Bill Jordan and Franck Düvell


The UK provides the opportunity for a case study of all the issues identified in Part I of the book, because of the changes in official thinking on economic migration in the years that we were conducting our research (1996–2001). In the first three years of this period, the focus of government policy was on the asylum system, and on stopping it being used as a channel for economic migration. … economic migrants will exploit whatever route offers the best chance of entering or remaining within the UK. That might mean use of fraudulent documentation, entering into a sham marriage or, particularly in recent years, abuse of the asylum process. … The Government’s aim is to create an efficient asylum system that helps genuine asylum seekers and deters abusive claimants (Home Office, 1998, paras 1.7–8). By the year 2000 the Home Office Minister with responsibility for immigration policy, Barbara Roche, was arguing that ‘economically driven migration can bring sustainable benefits both for growth and the economy’, because ‘in the UK we are now seeing the emergence of labour shortages in key areas’ (Roche, 2000, p. 3). A Home Office publication pointed out that, according to economic theory: If all markets are functioning well, there are no externalities, and if we are not concerned about the distributional implications, then migration is welfare-improving, not only for migrants, but (on average) for natives … migration is most likely to occur precisely when it is most likely to...

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