Illegality, youth and belonging, registration open for Harvard symposium

The registration is now open for the international symposium on ‘Illegality, youth, and belonging‘ hosted by the Harvard Graduate School of Education on 25-26 October.  The list of keynote speakers include Leo C. Chavez, Robert C. Smith, Leisy Abrego, Sarah Willen, Katharine M. Donato, Veronica Terriquez, Joanna Dreby. The symposium is the second in an event series on ‘Legal status, rights and belonging‘, jointly convened by Prof Roberto G. Gonzales (Harvard Graduate School of Education)  and Dr Nando Sigona (University of Birmingham).Registration fees are $50/$65. Places are limited, registration closes on 18th October.

Migrants welcome here

Anna Fifield on today’s FT writes an interesting piece on the proactive approach taken by cities like Baltimore and Dayton in US to attract more migrants to settle. This comes from the recognition that migrants, irrespective of their legal status, bring a new lease of life to ailing cities. To make Baltimore a safe haven to new comers last year the mayor of Baltimore, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, went so far as to sign an executive order prohibiting any city official from asking residents for their immigration status. On this side of the Atlantic, while we haven’t seen yet any local authorities to take such a bold stand, movements such as the Cities of Sanctuary or Strangers into Citizens enjoyed the support of numerous local authorities that wanted a more welcoming approach to migrants and a regularisation programme for those undocumented because they could see and appreciate the benefits that migrants bring to their cities, economically, socially and culturally.

The UK’s DREAMers? Undocumented children in Britain

tedxeastend Below the video of the talk I gave at TEDxEastEnd (Society Without Borders) last October. I start with a critical analysis of current deportation policy and practice, using as an example the UKBA’s Operation Mayapple. I then point to the gap that exists between those you are deported and those you are deportable, a significant gap despite the increasing use of deportation by Western governments. A closer look at the deportation gap shows that undocumented migrants are not all equally deportable and that children, in particular, are less likely to be forcibly removed. Nonetheless, in the UK these very children are not offered concrete routes to regularisation and are stranded in legal limbo. The Obama administration‘s executive decision that has recently granted a route to regularisation to up to 800,000 young undocumented migrants offers an example of a pragmatic and long term solution beneficial to both the children and society more broadly.

Legal status, rights and belonging: International symposia

The analysis of the relationship between legal status, rights and belonging is the central theme of two symposia jointly organised by the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago and the Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS), the Refugee Studies Centre (RSC) and the Oxford Institute of Social Policy (OISP) at the University of Oxford.

The symposia are convened by Dr Roberto G. Gonzales  (University of Chicago) and myself .

Main Themes of the International Symposia

The events will be held respectively in Oxford in April 2013 and in Chicago in October 2013 and will address two interrelated aspects of the relationship between legal status, rights and belonging:

The symposium will investigate the interplay between forms and modes of contemporary membership, migration governance (both immigration and emigration), and the politics of belonging. This will be achieved through in-depth examinations of a range of experiences of membership including, but not limited to, those of:  ethnic minorities; citizen children of undocumented migrant parents; former unaccompanied asylum seeking children; people with dual citizenship; ‘failed’ asylum seekers; and stateless people. Participants are invited to discuss issues such as the position of the non-citizen in contemporary immigration and emigration states; the nexus between human mobility, immigration control, and citizenship; the tension in policy and practice between coexisting traditions and regimes of rights; and the intersection of ‘race’ and other social cleavages and legal status. The Oxford symposium is organised by Dr Nando Sigona (Refugee Studies Centre), Vanessa Hughes (COMPAS) & Dr Elaine Chase (Oxford Institute of Social Policy).

  • Illegality, youth and belonging  (Chicago, October 2013)

This second symposium will explore the confusing and contradictory experiences of belonging and illegality that frame the everyday lives of undocumented immigrant youth. Over the last two decades in the United States, non-citizens have experienced a shrinking of rights while immigrant communities have witnessed an intensification of enforcement efforts in neighbourhoods and public spaces. In effect, these trends have sewn fear and anxiety and narrowed the worlds of youth—such that even mundane acts of driving, waiting for the bus, and traffic stops can lead to the loss of a car, prison and deportation. But these young people have also benefited from local and national efforts to widen access—particularly in the realm of education—providing young immigrants important opportunities to establish connections, form relationships, and participate in the day-to-day life of their communities. The experiences of undocumented immigrant youth teach us about the two-sided nature of citizenship—such that persons can be removed from spaces, denied privileges and rights, but can experience belonging too.

Collectively this joint initiative aims to break new ground through analyses that are empirically informed, theoretically engaged and ethnographically rich and drawing on the expertise of scholars from a range of disciplinary backgrounds and state contexts. As immigration has become a topic of great visibility among scholars, policy makers, and the media, this endeavour holds appeal to a range of audiences. Read the Background paper & Call for Papers