Seeing Illegal Immigrants: State Monitoring and Political Rationality

Lead Research Organisation: University of Edinburgh
Department Name: Sch of Social and Political Science

Abstract

Irregular immigration via Europe's sea borders has attracted substantial political attention recently. But just as striking is the lack of knowledge about, or even strategic ignorance of, unauthorised immigrants already resident in European countries. Few countries regularly estimate the number of illegal residents on their territory, and governments tend to be reticent about collecting and publishing data on the control of illegal residence or employment.

This project will examine how states 'see' illegal immigrants, through addressing two sets of questions.
(1) Which forms of illegality do states monitor, and which are left unscrutinised? What sorts of techqniues and practices do public authorities use to monitor illegal residents? The project will be the first to systematically map, compare and explain the practices and technologies deployed in different European countries to monitor illegal immigrants.
(2) What do monitoring practices tell us about the type of political rationality informing state monitoring practices - what we term state 'logics of monitoring'? Through comparing monitoring practices in three countries, we can gain insight into how public authorities decide which aspects of illegal immigration to scrutinise, and which to overlook. The focus on monitoring provides a lens for reconstructing the logics underpinning political agency.

We will compare monitoring practices in three countries: the UK, France and Germany. These countries are similar in many respects. They each experienced a significant rise in immigration in the decades after World War II, driven by colonial commitments (UK), labour requirements (Germany), or a combination of the two (France). And each country introduced measures to close channels for legal immigration in the early 1970s. They are all subject to a range of EU provisions on borders, immigration and asylum (and Schengen rules in the case of France and Germany). Yet these countries differ across three main variables we might expect to produce different monitoring practices: state administrative capacity for monitoring, political dynamics and labour market flexibility.

The research will involve comparative and historical case study analysis. Comparison will help us identify and explain variations between the three cases. The historical perspective helps us to trace the evolution of monitoring practices over time, charting how they have been adjusted in response to different domestic and international factors. Historical analysis also helps us identify the ways in which current monitoring practices are constrained by prior choices.

The research will involve two main methods:
(a) Archival data analysis. We will study public records from the mid 1960s to the early 1970s, to examine how policy actors and politicians analysed and deliberated on policy and practices relevant to monitoring illegal immigrants, during a critical juncture in immigration control in each country.
(b) 100 interviews with policy actors, to reconstruct how public authorities perceived and responded to a second control crisis in the early 1990s; and to examine recent and current monitoring practices (up until 2015).

Through our research, we hope to foster more informed debate on the ethics and politics of immigration control. There is a pronounced gap between public/media debates on illegal immigrants, which focus on the need for robust control; and the practices of public authorities and organisations involved in providing services to illegal immigrants, which are far more ambivalent about such control. Through a series of events and media dissemination, we will stimulate a knowledge-based discussion of the issue, and encourage organisations to reflect on their role in monitoring and supporting illegal immigrants.

Planned Impact

Our impact strategy targets the following beneficiaries:

1. The general public, especially residents of the UK, France and Germany with an interest in immigration policy.
Public authorities and organisations providing services to illegal immigrants face a range of constraints and dilemmas in monitoring and enforcement of immigration rules. We aim to foster a more realistic and open debate about the ethical and political constraints involved in immigration monitoring and control.

2. Stakeholders involved in assisting or providing services to illegal immigrants.
A range of organisations employ or provide services to illegal immigrants, notably: firms, trade unions, landlords, health and education providers, and immigrant support and lobby groups. These groups face a range of challenges in implementing government requirements for excluding, registering or reporting illegal immigrants. Such requirements often go against the grain of their ethics of service provision or inclusivity, raising serious moral and political dilemmas. We aim to encourage officials to reflect on these issues and how their organisation/sector can best address the tensions involved.

3. Officials in international organisations involved in cross-national data collection and comparison of migration, including the European Commission (Directorate-General Home), EUROSTAT, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), International Organization for Migration (IOM), the International Labour Organization (ILO), and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).
We aim to strengthen their understanding of the factors shaping national practices on monitoring in this area, and on the impact of international data collection, comparison and harmonisation on national approaches.

We will target these three audiences through the following activities:

- Stakeholder Forum
At the outset of the project we will create a virtual stakeholder forum of around 100 officials from governments, international organizations and NGOs, including: the European Commission, ILO and IOM; national civil servants and politicians in France, Germany and the UK; national and EU-level employers groups and trade unions; and national and EU-level immigrant NGOs. Participants in the forum will receive three project updates through the course of the project, and will be encouraged to access our website and blog.

- Advisory Group
We have already confirmed 10 members, including from the Trades Union Congress, the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, Migrants' Rights Network, the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), the German Federal Office for Migration and OECD. The Advisory Group will provide advice on reaching target audiences across Europe, and pitching our research to maximise impact.

- Events
We will organise 4 events to stimulate debate and disseminate our findings, bringing together representatives of groups 2. and 3. above:
(1) A round-table event in Paris, co-hosted with the Institut National des Études Démographiques (INED)
(2) A round-table event in London, co-organised with IPPR
(3) A round-table event in Brussels, co-organised with the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD)
(4) A public event in Edinburgh (separately funded by the University)
To reach a German policy audience, we will present findings at the Jahrestagung Illegalität organised by the Katholische Akademie in Berlin. We have also had initial discussions with the Expert Council of German Foundations on Integration and Migration (SVR) in Berlin to plan a separately funded event in Berlin in Summer 2017.

- Media
We aim to publish at least one article in a quality daily in (respectively) the UK, France and Germany; we will disseminate our work through website updates, blogs and twitter; and build on existing media contacts to encourage news coverage and pitch documentary ideas to the BBC and Channel 4.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description Our archival research on policy-making on irregular migration in the 1960s produced new insights into how European states monitored and produced knowledge on migrants. In the UK case, concern about irregular migration emerged in the 1960s linked to an overall anxiety about rising levels of Commonwealth immigration. By contrast, in France the issue emerged in the late 1960s/early 1970s in relation to concerns about political agitation in the workplace, and irregular employment. In Germany, concern about control of aliens dated from the post-war period, with the occupying powers keen to retain the foreigners' central register as a means of controlling immigration because of concerns about security. These divergences suggest that while it is tempting to see irregular migration as an issue common to European countries of immigration, it was identified and framed in quite different ways across these three countries.

Further comparative analysis currently being conducted is exploring how the three countries successively sought to exclude immigrants from access to welfare provisions, as a tool of immigration control, especially in the 1980s and 1990s. An article on this topic is under revision with Comparative Political Studies.

In addition, analysis of the UK case has yielded more general findings about how and why immigration policy is so often the object of 'symbolic' measures (already published as an article); and granular analysis of the archives has also underpinned a contribution to theorising the role of 'puzzling' in policy deliberation (being prepared for a further article).

Further analysis of the German case is currently focusing on the role of sub-national authorities in shaping and implementing immigration control (currently under review).

Finally, we are building on the findings to develop an original theoretical contribution to understanding how and why states produce 'ignorance' of social problems, which will be forthcoming as an article and a book, bringing together the main findings of the project. This is currently being drafted by the project team, with a second writing retreat scheduled for June 2020.

In addition to the two articles listed in the publications section and the book (see above), we are currently revising two articles for resubmission to leading journals, and have three further articles under review.
Exploitation Route We have already presented findings to various fora concerned to learn lessons from the Windrush scandal. This includes an IPPR event in London including MPs, NGOs, lawyers, officials and think tanks; a presentation to Home Office officials; participation in a further seminar with Home Office officials; and an in-depth briefing to the Windrush lessons learned unit in the Home Office. We are continuing this avenue of KEI.

We also hosted an event in Brussels to share findings with European Commission, local government and NGO officials, comparing European practices on monitoring immigrants, highlighting the important distinction in 'nodes of observation' or migrants. We will pursue this line of KEI further, through publications, blogs and further engagement with officials and NGOs.

Finally, insights and findings from the project are being developed and applied though the PI's role as Chair of the Scottish Government's Expert Advisory Group on Migration, in which role she is advising officials and ministers on issues around irregular migration and enforcement. The PI has had the opportunity to build on and apply many of the insights from the project through both written reports, and in ongoing dialogue with the Scottish Government on immigration after Brexit. The EAG's work has been widely publicised in the UK media, and in Scottish Parliamentary debate. Our reports played a key role in underpinning proposals by the First Minister (January 2020) for a differentiated migration policy for Scotland.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Government, Democracy and Justice

URL https://blogs.sps.ed.ac.uk/seeing-illegal-immigrants/project-blog/
 
Description Through presentations to Home Office officials, we have helped elucidate the reasoning behind the 1971 legislation on Commonwealth immigration, thereby helping to learn lessons that can inform handling of the Windrush crisis, as well as the status and rights of EU nationals after Brexit. Through a follow-up IAA funded project on lower-skilled immigration after Brexit, we also explored the risks associated with irregular labour following a restriction on EU mobility. We have hosted several meetings with Scottish Government, Local Authorities, employers groups and trade unions to explore the monitoring and enforcement challenges linked with lower-skilled migration after Brexit. Finally, through the PI's role as Chair of the Scottish Government's Expert Advisory Group on Migration, we are drawing on insights on state monitoring and enforcement to inform Scottish Government approaches to, and options for, differentiated/devolved immigration after Brexit. This work is ongoing, and is the object of a REF Impact Case Study.
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink,Communities and Social Services/Policy,Healthcare,Government, Democracy and Justice
Impact Types Societal,Policy & public services

 
Description IAA on regulating low-skilled immigration
Amount £54,258 (GBP)
Organisation University of Edinburgh 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 11/2017 
End 04/2018
 
Description Blog for History and Politics 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Based on our article for the Journal of Ethnic and Migration studies, Slaven and Boswell were invited to write a blog for a prominent blog site, History and Politics.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://www.historyandpolicy.org/opinion-articles/articles/after-the-windrush-scandal-are-other-group...
 
Description Brexit Business Brunch on low-skilled migration after Brexit 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Chatham House Rule seminar with business, government, local authority and NGO representatives to explore options for regulating immigration to Scotland. The event also saw the informal launch of our IAA-funded report. This IAA project was funded by a Business Booster, as an offshoot of the ESRC SIMs project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Conference co-hosted with COSLA on migration after Brexit 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Conference hosted in COSLA (Edinburgh), bringing together stakeholders from government, business and NGOs to explore options for regulating low-skilled labour migration after Brexit. This was funded and drew on analysis from our IAA project, which was an offshoot of the ESRC SIMs project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Evidence to Scottish Parliament CTEEA, 4th April 2019. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Gave evidence to Committee on Tourism, Europe and External Affairs. Special session to discuss findings of the first Expert Advisory Group paper on impact of UK immigration policy proposals on Scotland. Drew on findings from the Seeing Illegal Immigrants project. Was widely covered in Scottish/UK media.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Home Office round table, 2nd August 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Invited participant at small consultation event organised by Home Office (Marsham St), to discuss immigration policy after Brexit. I shared insights from the Seeing Illegal Immigrants project, around issues of risks to EU nationals and settlement scheme, as well as how lack of low-skilled migration routes could lead to increase in irregular residence/work.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Home Office talk on the use of research in policy-making 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Invited talk at the Home Office research seminar series, Marsham St, in November 2017.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Hosting workshop on Seeing Illegal Immigrants project, University of Edinburgh, July 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact The project team hosted a 1-day workshop involving advisory group members and other experts on the project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Invited talk, COMPASS seminar series, University of Oxford 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Talk on the uses of research in immigration policy-making, drawing on research on the Seeing Illegal Immigrants project
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Keynote lecture, University of Neuchatel, Graduate Conference, NCCR On the Move 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Keynote lecture on Immigration and the Crisis of Political Trust, and plenary discussion with Prof Wolfgang Streeck
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Keynote talk at EU project conference, Glasgow 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Results and Impact Keynote speaker on 'Irregular Migration and State Ignorance', on the occasion of Glasgow-Caledonian University conference on migration governance, 29 Aug 2019
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Keynote talk by Elisabeth Badenhoop, Catholic Academy Berlin 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Dr Badenhoop (RA on Seeing Illegal Immigrants) presented a talk on the porject at the XIV. Jahrestagung Illegalität (this is the annual meeting of the largest practitioner forum on illegal migration in Germany and perhaps the only such event in Europe). Title: Seeing Illegal Immigrants: The Establishment and Unintended Consequences of the Foreigners Central Register, 1950s-1970s. Date and place: 14. - 15. März 2018 in der Katholischen Akademie in Berlin. Organisers: Katholisches Forum Leben in der Illegaliät, Rat für Migration, Katholische Akademie in Berlin e.V.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Keynote talk on migration and Brexit, Glasgow Uni 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Addressed plenary session at ESRC-organised event on Brexit, hosted in Glasgow University. Title: UK Immigration Policy After Brexit" Implications for Scotland and the UK. This was based on research from the IAA Business Booster, which was an offshoot of the ESRC SIMs project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Keynote talk, Centre for European Policy Studies, Brussels 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Talk triggered a discussion on how funding agencies reward 'impact', with participation from senior European Commission (DG Research) officials.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Keynote talk, University of Coimbra 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Keynote talk on 'The Invention of Illegal Immigration: Constructing Immigration Control as a Social Problem in France and the UK', reporting on findings from the SIMs project. The keynote was in the context of a conference on how insights from STS can inform migration studies.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://ces.uc.pt/pt/agenda-noticias/agenda-de-eventos/2018/how-can-science-and-technology-studies-h...
 
Description Launch of our website, twitter account and blogsite 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact We launched our new website, containing information on the project and team members. We also set up a twitter account (225 followers, 269 tweets to date). We have already posted 8 blogs). As of Feb 2018, we have 351 followers, 478 more tweets, and 5 additional blog posts.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://blogs.sps.ed.ac.uk/seeing-illegal-immigrants/
 
Description Meeting with the Home Office Windrush lessons learned unit 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Mike Slaven was invited to discuss our research with the Home Office Windrush meeting. He reported via email: I met for two hours with about a dozen staff working on the Windrush Lessons Learned Review. It was relatively informal -- I presented for about 50 minutes and then we discussed various points for another hour or so. I didn't get a roster of who was there but might be able to ask for this.
Overall, they were highly interested and attentive. One of them had read our article and asked me about our "adaptation" concept and how this might apply to 2000s policy changes. Some expressed a real interest in particular in how the Home Office policymakers in the 60s and 70s thought that internal monitoring would be bad for race relations and integration, and refrained from introducing internal monitoring partly for those reasons. However, it was a quite wide-ranging discussion such that it is difficult for me to recall all the points.
In terms of lessons to learn, one thing I took pains to emphasise is that I think it would be a mistake to interpret the problem as emerging from a loose and nonsensical policy way back when (the conferral of permanent settlement status in the 1971 Act), in which the key lesson is that the UK should make sure not to do this in the future. I said that while past systems may look strange from our perspective, they made sense in context, where policymakers knew about the lack of documentation in previous systems (creating path dependency), and had their own reasons for this. It is those contexts and logics that need to be remembered and assessed, as far as the policy impacts of new developments on legacy systems; it is impossible to predict what actions policymakers may take now which will or won't make sense in the long run in immigration policy, since it continuously changes. They seemed to connect with this point.
Going forward, they are going to try to present a report to the Home Secretary in April (before it is public), and I've offered to stay in touch until then. They thought the discussion was really rich and seemed to think there were things for us to communicate about. One practical thing is that the team has one or two people sometimes going to the National Archives, but they have found that the names of the files don't always give a good indication of what's in them (no surprises). Given their time constraints, I have said they can contact me about files I referenced in my presentation or others to see if I know anything about what's in them. They seemed interested to have a broader conversation beyond this, though.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Participation in round-table on democracy and trust 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Participation in round-table on democracy and trust, at which I presented ideas from the Politics of Monitoring project. Followed by debate with other participants (PGRs and researchers from history, Sociology, law and political science).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Presentation to COSLA, Home Office and Scottish Government 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Invited talk on the occasion of COSLA Strategic Migration Partnership meeting. Presented research to Home Office and SG officials, including on challenges of irregular migration and enforcement of lower-skilled migration after Brexit.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Presentation to Home Office officials 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Research Assistant Mike Slaven presented on the UK research at a Home Office lunchtime seminar on 26th November 2018. The talk was attended by about 40 people from a variety of teams -- Immigration Enforcement, the Windrush "lessons learned" team, the Home Secretary's office, etc.
Based on the feedback collected, 95% of the respondents agreed or strongly agreed that they learned something which might affect their work (which we were told was an unprecedented number, since attendees are usually highly neutral on this question). There were about 40 people there, so about half completed the feedback form.

Mike was then invited to present work to the Windrush Lessons Learned unit.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Project blog posts 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact We published 7 further blogposts on our project website, reporting on findings and activities in the SIMs project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://blogs.sps.ed.ac.uk/seeing-illegal-immigrants/project-blog/
 
Description Public Lecture on Immigration and the Crisis of Political Trust, University of Edinburgh, Sep 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact Public Lecture as part of the prominent Our Changing World series. Audience of 200+, and also available as podcast.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Roundtable event in Brussels 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Together with the International Centre on Migration Policy Development (based in Vienna and Brussels), we organised a half-day symposium on "Monitoring Irregular Migrants in Europe: Comparing State Practices in France, Germany and the UK". The event featured a presentation by the PI (Boswell) and RA (Badenhoop) of our SIMs findings, and brought together officials from the European Commission, local government in Belgium and the Netherlands, NGOs and researchers.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://blogs.sps.ed.ac.uk/seeing-illegal-immigrants/2018/10/30/insights-from-our-brussels-event/
 
Description Roundtable in London on the 'hostile environment' 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Round-table organised with IPPR, to disseminate findings from ESRC SIMs project. Participants included think tanks, academics, officials, MPs and NGO representatives.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://blogs.sps.ed.ac.uk/seeing-illegal-immigrants/2018/07/11/project-team-present-findings-at-the...
 
Description Royal Society of Edinburgh workshop presentation on unaccompanied minors (speaker: Mike Slaven) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Mike Slaven (RA on the grant) gave a talk on "Minors' Rights to Enter the UK and Concerns about Abuse: Past Policies, Present Politics?", at a Royal Society of Edinburgh Workshop on Unaccompanied Minor Asylum Seekers in Scotland (first a workshop series for mostly social-work practitioners who work with unaccompanied minors). Hosted by Edinburgh Napier University, 17 May 2017.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Talk at launch event, Eurochild project (Birmingham University) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Talk on migration policy after Brexit, including particular challenges for Scotland in relation to lower skilled migrants.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Talk on Seeing Illegal Immigrants, October 2017, at Edinburgh Transatlantic Seminar 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact Talk at popular seminar series, which was also broadcast as podcast to wider audience of UG students.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017