Recasting integration policy and discourse, my contribution to Bright Blue’s Immigration Commission

In September 2014, the Conservative think-tank Bright Blue hosted an oral evidence session on immigration. A team of high-profile commissioners interviewed experts from academia, government, journalism, the third sector and business. There were eight main sessions: business and growth; work and poverty; education, research, innovation and skills; local communities and public services; refugees, border control, visas and detention centres; families and children; and integration. I was invited to contribute to the discussion on integration. The interview panels included: David Goodhart, Carlos Vargas-Silva, and Sunder Katwala.

Whose sea? Mare Nostrum and the politics of migration in the Med

By Nando Sigona, University of Birmingham

Cemetery of migrant boats in Capo Passero, Sicily. Photo by Nando Sigona

Cemetery of migrant boats in Capo Passero, Sicily. Photo by Nando Sigona

Thirty lifeless bodies found in the bow of a fishing boat carrying 600 migrants off the coast of Sicily have reignited the debate on illegal crossings in the Mediterranean and how the EU should respond. The Italian navy is facing an unprecedented flow of migrants across the sea, with the number intercepted in first half of 2014 already outnumbering those of the past year and at levels seen in 2011 during the Arab Spring.

To offset the moral panic that pervades this debate, it would be useful for everyone involved to remember that the high number of interceptions is not per se an indicator of an increasing number of illegal crossings and even less and indication of the number of irregular migrants in the EU. While a correlation can’t be categorically denied, the relationship may be less direct that many assume.

It is evident that the militarisation of the Mediterranean and the increasing patrolling of the sea by European navies, drones and satellites following the political turmoil and regime change in Libya, Egypt and Tunisia have had an impact on the likelihood of a migrant boat being detected. (This is not to deny the impact of weakened control on exit in countries such as Libya since the fall of the Gaddafi regime.)

The rise of FRONTEX

The reinvigorated action of FRONTEX, the European Agency for the Management of External Borders, has also contributed to the phenomenon. By feeding politicians and media with detailed statistics, first-hand accounts, close-up images, and scrupulously documented annual reports, FRONTEX has given an EU-wide profile to what used to be seen as a local, sporadic phenomenon.

Making illegal crossings a European, rather than a national, “problem” can serve multiple agendas. It can promote a sense of EU solidarity currently under threat by the re-emergence of nationalist discourses from Eurosceptic parties.

At a more basic level, it helps FRONTEX demonstrate value for money to the governments that have been generously funding the agency in the past few years. The organisation’s budget has rocketed from €6.3m in 2005, to nearly €42m in 2007, topping €94m by 2013. The newly appointed president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker has named a further budget increase as one of his top priorities.

Mare Nostrum

The current upsurge of interceptions also has a more specific cause: operation Mare Nostrum (Our Sea, in Latin). This is a rescue and military operation led by the Italian navy, launched in October 2013 in response to the tragic deaths of more than 360 people after a migrant boat sank off the coast of the Italian island of Lampedusa. International outcry and the direct intervention of Pope Francis I, who declared the event a “disgrace”, provided the impetus for the Italian government to intervene.

Thousands of migrants brought to safe shores in the past months certainly make Mare Nostrum a “great humanitarian success”, as recently pointed out by the UN High Commission for Refugees. But there are signs that the political consensus around the operation is vacillating, with many saying the operation provides an incentive for migrants to take the sea route to Europe.

After hundreds of interceptions at sea, a change of government and the start of summer, which always brings more arrivals, political support for the operation is deteriorating. The Northern League, lately joined by Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, routinely attacks Mare Nostrum, most notably accusing the government of letting in migrants who spread diseases and, lately, attacking the prime minister for having migrants’ blood on his hands.

The government continues to defend Mare Nostrum publicly, but ministers are increasingly questioning the long-term sustainability of this kind of humanitarian operation, and repeatedly call for the EU to take responsibility. They argue the Mediterranean is “a European border”, not simply an Italian one.

The Mediterranean is an EU border

A running cost of more than €9m a month is not the only concern for the Italian government. Overcrowded reception facilities pose security and health hazards, but the real question is: what next? What to do with the thousands migrants brought to the shore?

An initial screening of the arrivals shows that more than 80% had the prerequisites for applying for asylum. But even if they are recognised as refugees, the Italian state has not much to offer to them. Many will survive in destitution in Italian cities or move to other EU countries to join family members or go off in search of better economic opportunities and more generous welfare systems.

So it’s hardly surprising that Italy has indicated an EU-wide immmigration policy as a priority for its presidency of the Council of the European Union.

The Mediterranean is indeed an EU border, not least because it is the EU (Italy included) that those crossing the sea on rickety boats dream of reaching. It is in the EU and what they think it stands for that they are seeking refuge and the chance to create a better, safer life for themselves and their families. Sadly, at a time of nationalist resurgence, the call for a fully European response may fall once again on deaf ears.

The Conversation

Nando Sigona does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

La versione in italiano di questo articolo e’ disponibile su pagina99

Is UKIP the only game in town?

Not sure if it is just me but I have the impression that UKIP is the only one really campaigning for the forthcoming EU election. I can explain this to myself using three lines of reasoning: a) the economic one, i.e. they are the only party that can afford large billboards like this one;

UKIP billboard, Oxford 2014

UKIP billboard, Oxford 2014

b) the political/tactical one, i.e. they are the only one that can win the election in the UK so better saving money for the ‘real’ election in 2015, plus if it looks like one is not even campaigning, then he/she can’t be blamed for losing the election (especially if one happens to be a particularly weak political leader); c) the Political/strategic one, i.e. a part from UKIP, the other parties have nothing to say about the EU (except that it’s good for the economy) and that ultimately even if they had their mouth fully free – i.e. even without gags on their mouths – they would be silent anyway. As a EU citizen, this is rather frustrating as it leaves over 2.3m UK residents with a EU passport without real political representation (unless one fancies voting for Clegg & co., or for a small niche party like the Greens) and it is fair to expect that it will only get worst with the 2015 election where EU residents will have no (electoral) say at all on what gets said on them (as I discussed in this OpenDemocracy piece).

Call for Proposals: Special Issue of Migration Studies

Migration Studies coverMigration Studies, published by Oxford University Press, invites proposals for a Special Issue on themes of enduring significance in the study of human migration. In 2015, the journal aims to publish a guest-edited, thematically coherent collection of approximately six articles of 7-9000 words in length, based on original, unpublished research on a topic of importance to the interdisciplinary field of migration studies. Priority will be given to comparative work as well as methodological and theoretical advances, and we explicitly welcome work that is grounded in a specific discipline but engages across disciplinary boundaries. Themes concerning the full range of migration drivers, dimensions and impacts will be considered.

Migration Studies aim to publish a special issue in 2015. This is contingent on review and revision time, and therefore we strongly prefer proposals for collections of articles that have already been drafted and reviewed in light of substantive feedback from a range of colleagues.

Deadlines: The deadline for proposals is 1 May 2014. Full articles should be ready for submission at that time or very shortly afterwards.

Review Process: All articles submitted undergo the standard Migration Studies peer review process and those accepted will be published in the journal.

How to submit: proposals should be submitted online at, under the manuscript category ‘Special Issue Proposal’.

Proposals for a Special Issue should contain:

–          A 500-word explanation of the rationale for the Special Issue

–          A list of authors, titles, abstracts and proposed word counts of the articles in the collection. Important: please indicate what stage of writing each article is in, and note that fully prepared manuscripts are strongly preferred

–          100-word biographies for each contributor, detailing discipline, area of expertise, institution, and position.

About the Journal

Migration Studies is an international refereed journal dedicated to advancing scholarly understanding of the determinants, processes and outcomes of human migration in all its manifestations. It furthers this aim by publishing original scholarship from around the world. Migration shapes human society and inspires ground-breaking research efforts across many different academic disciplines and policy areas. Migration Studies contributes to the consolidation of this field of scholarship, developing the core concepts that link different disciplinary perspectives on migration. To this end, the journal welcomes full-length articles, research notes, and reviews of books, films and other media from those working across the social sciences in all parts of the world. Priority is given to methodological, comparative and theoretical advances.

Leave us alone!

Ian Duncan Smith calculating a new income threshold for EU migrants

Ian Duncan Smith calculating a new income threshold for EU migrants

Here we go again, but this time it is not Theresa May’s creative policy making team to come up with yet another ‘solution’ to the hordes of EU barbarians invading the verdant pastures of England*, it is Ian Duncan Smith and his team that cornered by the ongoing failure of the flagship Universal Credit system, engage in a rather desperate attempt to divert attention from what it is almost universally seen as a poor ministerial performance, even according to Conservative party colleagues.  So the new idea is: IDS decided that from March all EU migrants (including myself) will have to reach an arbitrary income threshold in order to qualify for “worker” status.

Boosting anxiety in the electorate with the election just one year away has become the Conservative Party main preoccupation, and a sign the electoral machine is already in full swing and overriding other policy priorities.

*And no, it doesn’t matter that the invasion didn’t actually happen as the government had forecast and yes, verdant pastures of England only, no one in Westminster seems to care much for the ungrateful Scots daring to consider to leave such a lovely Kingdom.

Imagining a new research agenda in an era of superdiversity

Here there is me trying to look at my research through a superdiversity lens and think at what spaces a superdiversity turn would open in terms of new research questions, methodological challenges and ways of looking at a society getting increasingly complex, composite, layered and unequal.
You can watch also my IRiS colleague Dr Chris Allen exploring the role of religion and faith in an era of change.
To find out more about the Institute for Research into Superdiversity:

Our job is to be educators, not border guards

[Published in The Independent on 24 October]

UKBAWe write as academics concerned with the way in which the rhetoric over security is undermining the university as a place of learning and open discussion (“Is this really necessary? Universities introduce fingerprinting for international students”, 21 October).

The latest move by the universities of Sunderland and Ulster, singling out international students to give fingerprints to prove their attendance at lectures, is reprehensible and to be condemned in the strongest terms.

As academics, we have a duty of care towards all our students, and such policies undermine that relationship. We call on the universities of Sunderland and Ulster to withdraw the use of this system, and for all other universities to take seriously their commitment to equitable treatment of all their students.

We also call on the Government to stop putting pressure on universities to enact such immigration policies. This damages the international reputation of UK higher education at all institutions. We are educators, not border guards.

Gurminder K Bhambra, University of Warwick

John Holmwood, University of Nottingham

Chris Rossdale,  City University, London

Anupama Ranawana, University of Aberdeen

Robbie Shilliam, Queen Mary,  University of London

Hannah Jones, University of Warwick

Cecily Jones,  University of Warwick/Independent researcher

Adam Barker,  Independent academic

Kirsten Forkert, Birmingham City University

10.           Sonia McKay, London Metropolitan University

11.            Mark Cresswell, Durham University

12.            Steve French, Keele University

13.            Malcolm J. W. Povey, University of Leeds

14.           Alan Warde, University of Manchester

15.            Aaron Winter, University of Abertay

16.            Alexandra Kokoli, Middlesex University

17.            Andrew Sayer, Lancaster University

18.            Bev Skeggs, Goldsmiths, University of London

19.            Dennis Leech, University of Warwick

20.           Alison Phipps, University of Glasgow

21.            Myriam Salama-Carr, University of Salford

22.           Cath Lambert, University of Warwick

23.           Steve Jefferys, London Metropolitan University

24.           Gavin Brown, University of Leicester

25.           Cristian Serdean, De Montfort University

26.           David McCallam, University of Sheffield

27.            Claudia Marquesmartin, University of Aberdeen

28.           Sarah Annes Brown, Anglia Ruskin University

29.           James Elliott, University of Oxford

30.           Mark Toogood, University of Central Lancashire

31.            Marci Green, University of Wolverhampton

32.           Christian Fuchs, University of Westminster

33.           Lucy Suchman, Lancaster University

34.           Catherine Baker, University of Hull

35.           Michael Lewis, University of the West of England

36.           Mark Campbell, London Metropolitan University

37.            Jacob Copeman, University of Edinburgh

38.           Luke Martell, University of Sussex

39.           Rosa Vasilaki, University of Bristol

40.          Daniel Chernilo, Loughborough University

41.           Jo Grady, university of Leicester

42.           Kate Tunstall, University of Oxford

43.           Kathleen O’Donnell, Oxford Brookes University

44.          William McEvoy, University of Sussex

45.           Emma Mason, University of Warwick

46.           Michael Bailey, University of Essex

47.           Anne Barron, London School of Economics and Political Science

48.           Colin Wright, University of Nottingham

49.           Meera Sabaratnam, SOAS, University of London

50.           Kevin Sanders, University of Huddersfield

51.            Deana Rankin, Royal Holloway, University of London.

52.           Julia O’Connell Davidson, University of Nottingham

53.           Christine Achinger, University of Warwick

54.           Catriona Kelly, University of Oxford

55.           Adam Kaasa, London School of Economics and Political Science

56.           Katherine Ibbett, UCL

57.            John  Parkinson, University of Warwick

58.           Charlie Louth, University of Oxford

59.           Alexander Smith, University of Warwick

60.           Clive Gabay, Queen Mary,  University of London

61.            Ana Cecilia Dinerstein, University of Bath

62.           Naomi Eilan, University of Warwick

63.           Natalie Fenton, Goldsmiths, University of London

64.           Malcolm MacLean, University of Gloucestershire

65.           Anna Strhan, University of Kent at Canterbury

66.           Angela Last, University of Glasgow

67.            Jonathan S. Davies, De Montfort University

68.           Hazel Conley, Queen Mary College, University of London

69.           Des Freedman, Goldsmiths College, University of London

70.           Jeffery R. Webber, Queen Mary  College, University of London

71.            Jan Culik, University of Glasgow

72.            Jenny Pickerill, University of Leicester

73.            Daniel Orrells, University of Warwick

74.           Ayça Çubukçu, London School of Economics and Political Science

75.            Matthew Donoghue, Oxford Brookes University

76.            Patrick Ainley, University of Greenwich

77.            Suzanne Hall, London School of Economics and Political Science

78.            Lee Jones, Queen Mary College, University of London

79.            Michael Loughlin, Manchester Metropolitan University

80.           Barry Smart, University of Portsmouth

81.            Gargi Bhattacharyya, University of East London

82.           Alain Viala, University of Oxford

83.           Rick Jones, University of Leeds

84.           Hilde C. Stephansen, The Open University

85.           Helen Swift, University of Oxford

86.           Hugo Gorringe, University of Edinburgh

87.            Marika Sherwood, Institute of Commonwealth Studies, University of London

88.           Geoff Williams, UCL

89.           John MacInnes, University of Edinburgh

90.           Goldie Osuri, University of Warwick

91.            Paul Bagguley, University of Leeds

92.           Victoria Blake, University of Leeds

93.           Uri Gordon, Loughborough University

94.           Brenda Johnston, University of Southampton

95.           Srila Roy, University of Nottingham

96.           Lynne Pettinger, University of Essex

97.            Ruth Kinna, Loughborough University

98.           Rachael Dobson, Kingston University

99.           David Owen, University of Southampton

100.        Bahar Baser, University of Warwick

101.         Bob Brecher, University of Brighton

102.        Jo Littler, City University, London

103.        Andreas Bieler, University of Nottingham

104.        Nick Clark, London Metropolitan University

105.        Anna Kemp, Queen Mary, London University

106.        Michael S. Northcott, University of Edinburgh

107.         William Outhwaite, Newcastle University

108.        Deborah Lynn Steinberg, University of Warwick

109.        Alpesh Maisuria, University of East London

110.         Philip Moriarty, University of Nottingham

111.          Derek Sayer, Lancaster University

112.         Raphael Salkie, University of Brighton

113.         Marion Hersh, University of Glasgow

114.         Mick Carpenter, University of Warwick

115.         Katherine Angel, Queen Mary, University of London

116.         Philip Grant, University of Edinburgh

117.          Ronald Mendel,  University of Northampton

118.         Bronislaw Szerszynski, Lancaster University

119.         Karma Nabulsi, Oxford University

120.        Pablo Schyfter, The University of Edinburgh

121.         Cassie Earl, Manchester Metropolitan University

122.         Emma Carmel, University of Bath

123.         Roger Jeffery, University of Edinburgh

124.        Patricia Jeffery, University of Edinburgh

125.         Michael Rosie, Sociology, university of Edinburgh

126.         Jeff Hearn, University of Huddersfield

127.         Anamik Saha, University of Leeds

128.         Karim MurjI, The Open University

129.         Doreen Crawford De Montfort University

130.        Joe Deville, Goldsmiths, University of London

131.         Sara Ahmed, Goldsmiths, University of London

132.         Kay Peggs, University of Portsmouth

133.         Caroline Warman, Jesus College, Oxford

134.        Stuart Hodkinson, University of Leeds

135.         Mikko Kuisma, Oxford Brookes University

136.         Les Back, Goldsmiths, University of London

137.         John Baker, University of Westminster

138.         Marian Mayer, Bournemouth University

139.         Steve Garner, Open University

140.        Chris Jones, Liverpool John Moores University

141.         Max Farrar, Leeds Met University

142.        Khursheed Wadia, University of Warwick

143.        Bahadur Najak, Durham University

144.        Richard Hall, De Montfort University

145.        Isobel Urquhart, University of Cambridge

146.        Susan A J Stuart, University of Glasgow

147.         Gavin Williams, St Peter’s College, Oxford University

148.        Kate Hardy, University of Leeds

149.        Will Davies, University of Warwick

150.        Colette Fagan, University of Manchester

151.         Hannah Lewis, University of Leeds

152.         Saer Maty Ba, Independent Academic

153.         Bernard Sufrin, Oxford University

154.        Aylwyn Walsh: University of Lincoln

155.         Lauren Tooker, University of Warwick

156.         Andy Danford, Bristol Business School, University of the West of England

157.         Jason Hart, University of Bath

158.         Siobhan McGrath, Lancaster University

159.         Charles Brown, University of Westminster

160.        Madeleine Davis, Queen Mary, University of London

161.         Tony Side, Middlesex University

162.         David Evans, St Mary’s University College

163.         Jason Tucker, University of Bath

164.        Anne-Marie Kramer, University of Nottingham

165.         Nickie Charles, University of Warwick‏

166.         John T. Gilmore, University of Warwick

167.         Stephen Williams, Worcester College, University of Oxford

168.         Ben Rogaly, University of Sussex

169.         Viviana Ramirez, University of Bath

170.         Peter Cressey, University of Bath

171.          Emma Jackson, University of Glasgow

172.         Dženeta Karabegović, University of Warwick

173.         Mette Louise Berg, University of Oxford

174.         Shahnaz Akhter, University of Warwick

175.         Diana Paton, Newcastle University

176.         Maja Savevska, University of Warwick

177.          Dibyesh Anand, University of Westminster

178.         Gary Hazeldine, Birmingham City University

179.         Judith Bara, Queen Mary University of London

180.        Roberta Mulas, University of Warwick

181.         Ima Jackson, Glasgow Caledonian University

182.         Graham Smith, University of Northampton

183.         Christine Gledhill, University of Sunderland

184.        Joyce Canaan, Birmingham City University

185.         Mark Addis, Birmingham City University

186.         Claudia Baldoli, Newcastle University

187.         Xavier Guégan, Newcastle University.

188.         Naaz Rashid, University of Manchester

189.         Carlos Frade, University of Salford

190.        Jill Steans, University of Birmingham

191.         Ross Abbinnett, University of Birmingham

192.         Simona Pino, University of Warwick

193.         Lisa Tilley, University of Warwick

194.        Neelam Srivastava, Newcastle University

195.         Christalla Yakinthou, University of Birmingham

196.         Franck Düvell, University of Oxford

197.         Laura Jenkins, University of Birmingham

198.         Felix Robin Schulz, Newcastle University

199.         Tessa Wright, Queen Mary, University of London

200.       Oscar Garza, University of Bath

201.        Robin Cohen, University of Oxford

202.        Beatrice Godwin, University of Bath

203.        Laura Povoledo, Bristol Business School, University of the West of England

204.       Christian Karner, University of Nottingham

205.        Nick Mai, London Metropolitan University

206.        John Clarke, Open University

207.        Sarah Campbell, Newcastle University

208.        Rachel Lara Cohen, City University London

209.        Andrew Wells, Independent Academic

210.        Deema Kaneff, University of Birmingham

211.         Nando Sigona, University of Birmingham

212.         Kevin McSorley, University of Portsmouth

213.         Julie Ryan, Manchester Metropolitan University

214.        Maddie Breeze, University of Edinburgh

215.         Nicola Clarke, Newcastle University

216.         Luke Yates, University of Manchester

217.         Georgie Wemyss, University of East London

218.         Anneliese Dodds, Aston University

219.         Tom Vickers, Northumbria University

220.        Bryce Evans, Liverpool Hope University

221.         Ben Jackson, Oxford University

222.        Ipek Demir, University of Leicester

223.        Clare Madge, University of Leicester

224.        Parvati Raghuram, Open University

225.        Veit Schwab, University of Warwick

226.        Stephen Jones, University of Bristol

227.         Duncan Harcus, Aberdeen Business School, Robert Gordon University

228.        Elizabeth B Silva, Open University

229.        Robert Fine, University of Warwick

230.        Peter Fletcher, Keele University

231.         Lena Karamanidou, City University London

232.        Vicky Margree, University of Brighton

233.        Martin Farr, Newcastle University

234.        Alice Mah, University of Warwick

235.        Bahadir Çeliktemur, University of Warwick

236.        Esther Bott, University of Nottingham

237.         Stephen Kemp, University of Edinburgh

238.        Marijn Nieuwenhuis, University of Warwick

239.        Marisol Sandoval, City University London

240.       Laura Harvey, Brunel University

241.        Matt Kranke, University of Warwick

242.        Seref Kavak,  Keele University

243.        Sarah Burton, Goldsmiths College, University of London

244.       Darya Malyutina, UCL

245.        Dave Featherstone, University of Glasgow

246.        Benjamin Houston, Newcastle University

247.        Elisa Lopez Lucia, University of Warwick

248.        Maja Cederberg, Oxford Brookes University

249.        Laura Prazeres, Royal Holloway, University of London

250.        Daniel Fitzpatrick, UCL

251.         Tracey Warren, University of Nottingham

252.        Melissa Fernandez Arrigoitia, LSE

253.        Robert Cowley, University of Westminster

254.        Ibrahim Sirkeci, Regent’s University London

255.        Guillermo M., Goldsmiths College

256.        Simon Bradford, Brunel University

257.         Rowland Atkinson, University of York

258.        Jennifer Fraser, Birkbeck College

259.        Elizabeth Dowler, University of Warwick

260.        Stephen Ashe, University of Stirling

261.         Jo Halliday, Goldsmiths College London

262.        Marika Mura, University of Warwick

263.        Liz Bondi, University of Edinburgh

264.        Simon Cross, Nottingham Trent University

265.        Tim Lang, City University London

266.        Sian Lucas, University of Salford

267.         Kim Allen, Manchester Metropolitan University

268.        Gail Davidge, Manchester Metropolitan University

269.        Sarah Goler, University of Warwick

270.        Sanoj Tulachan, University of Warwick

271.         Aggie Hirst, City University London

272.         Rachna Leveque, University College London

273.         Jim Lusted, University of Northampton

274.        Samiksha Sehrawat, Newcastle University

275.         Leah Bassel, University of Leicester

276.         Derek Averre, University of Birmingham

277.         Sarah Lamble, Birkbeck College, University of London

278.         Liza Schuster, City University London

279.         Misato Matsuoka, University of Warwick

280.        Benoit Dutilleul, University of the West of England