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Young paperless lives: understanding 'illegality' throughthe experiences of young undocumented migrants

Bloch, Alice, Sigona, Nando and Zetter, Roger (2015) Young paperless lives: understanding 'illegality' throughthe experiences of young undocumented migrants. Discovery Society, 17.

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Most European media have recently reported the arrival of two cargo ships, Ezadeen and Blue Sky M, at the Italian shore. These old cargo ships were used by human smugglers to transport migrants from Syria and Kurdistan across the Mediterranean at a cost of over $5,000 per person. To many it was just a further confirmation that the alleged invasion of Europe continues. Moral panic on immigration pervades the public debate in many EU member states. Over the last thirteen months, since the death at sea of hundreds of migrants near Lampedusa, images of migrants in overcrowded boats crossing the Mediterranean in search of humanitarian protection or better opportunities have become so familiar that many in Europe simply assume that all irregular migrants came to Europe through that route. Immigration enforcement acts on those stereotypical representations of ‘the illegal’ and contributes to reifying them. But the reality is very different. There are multiple ways in which people become undocumented including refused asylum seekers who have not or cannot be returned, visa over-stayers or being born to parents without status. Arguably, it is state policies that make people ‘illegal’ though it is not necessarily a static situation as there is movement in and out of different immigration statuses. Moreover, research also shows the enormous variety of groups of undocumented migrants, although the majority are young, and the different degrees of poverty, vulnerability and exploitation among them.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2015 The Author
Divisions: LSE
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Date Deposited: 23 Feb 2015 13:00
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2023 15:11

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