Research Handbook on International Refugee Law
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Research Handbook on International Refugee Law

Edited by Satvinder Singh Juss

In an age of ethnic nationalism and anti-immigrant rhetoric, the study of refugees can help develop a new outlook on social justice, just as the post-war international order ends. The global financial crisis, the rise of populist leaders like Trump, Putin, and Erdogan, not to mention the arrival of anti-EU parties, raises the need to interrogate the refugee, migrant, citizen, stateless, legal, and illegal as concepts. This insightful Research Handbook is a timely contribution to that debate.
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Chapter 26: The removal of undesirable asylum seekers

Joris van Wijk and Maarten Bolhuis


In cases where a refugee status is denied or revoked, host states generally require asylum seekers to leave the country. The removal of failed asylum seekers has over the last decades been a major political issue in Europe, North America and Australia. The political consternation is even stronger where a host country fails to remove applicants whose status is denied or revoked because of their (alleged) past or possible future involvement in (serious) crimes or because they are considered to pose a current or future security concern. This chapter explores and assesses the various policy options that states have to remove undesirable asylum seekers. It subsequently discusses voluntary return, forced return and relocation. It concludes by discussing situations in which none of these options exist and the undesirable asylum seeker is de facto ‘unreturnable’. In those instances host countries may either promote the prosecution of these individuals or provide ad hoc solutions, for example in the form of temporary leave to stay.

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