Making Asylum Seekers Legible and Visible: An Analysis of the Dilemmas and Mitigating Strategies of Asylum Advocacy in the UK and US

Lead Research Organisation: University of Exeter
Department Name: Geography

Abstract

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Title Immigrant protest : politics, aesthetics and everyday dissent 
Description Examines dissent, resistance, and revolt against the conditions and social attitudes faced by migrants, focusing on the centrality of aesthetics to migrant resistance movements. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2011 
 
Description Our research highlights seven challenges facing the asylum support sector. The most important for our survey respondents are the funding shortages in the sector, including shortages in legal aid funding in both countries studied. These shortages have a series of knock-on effects including the loss of highly skilled personnel and an increased sense of competition within the sector for diminishing resources. Alongside shortages in funding, the sector is also experiencing a high degree of feelings of disconnection from organisations doing similar work, frustration and dismay at the lack of legal consistency and accountability in the area of asylum law, psychological strain such as secondary trauma that leads to high and costly staff turnover and difficulties in balancing short and long term priorities, dealing effectively with news media and using social media technologies in ways which further the work of their organisations.

Asylum support groups in the US and the UK shared most of these challenges. The major differences between the two countries included differences in knowledge about and attitudes towards asylum seekers among the general public and differences in legislation within the two countries, but these differences were not enough for us to conclude that either country faces a unique set of challenges.

Responses to the various challenges uncovered varied greatly between participants, sometimes uncovering fundamental disagreements between our respondents. For example, there is deep ambivalence in the sector with respect to using pro bono (ie volunteer) lawyers and interacting with the news media in order to raise the profile of groups or issues. There were also, however, a significant number of areas that respondents agree upon, which have allowed us to forge a set of recommendations:

For individual organisations:

• Consider how volunteers in the student, retired and client/ex-client categories can best support your organisation.

• Recognise that psychological strain, including secondary trauma, is a significant and costly issue and that resources invested in combating it invariably pay off long term by reducing staff turnover.

• Only engage with social media if it promises to meet your specific organisational objectives and does not divert resources away from your core mission.

For the general asylum support sector:

• Develop real and virtual meeting spaces, or forums, where organisations can stay connected, share good ideas, learn from each other and form a united voice.

• Explore the possibilities of closer collaboration, for example by pooling resources to access expertise in dealing with news media, using online social media effectively and combating psychological strain. There may be capacity for larger organisations to allow smaller groups to tap into their expertise in these areas eg by allowing them to consult their media and IT people, or use their counselling services.

As campaign priorities:

• To push for greater disclosure of judge- and court-level decisions in the UK which would allow inconsistencies in legal processes to be identified.

• To resist the introduction of video-linking technologies in court proceedings.

• To resist the use of remote detention.

• To resist frequent Government policy changes.
Exploitation Route Others will now be able to develop a clearer view of the dynamics of asylum seeker and migrant support groups in various developed Western countries.
Sectors Government, Democracy and Justice

URL http://asylum-network.com/
 
Description Explaining geographic disparities in asylum appeal success rates at different hearing centres around the UK
Amount £559,000 (GBP)
Funding ID ES/J023426/1 
Organisation Economic and Social Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2013 
End 01/2016
 
Description Explaining geographic disparities in asylum appeal success rates at different hearing centres around the UK
Amount £559,000 (GBP)
Funding ID ES/J023426/1 
Organisation Economic and Social Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2013 
End 07/2016
 
Description Research matchmaking : linking the demand and supply of research expertise for migrant support in the UK and US
Amount £25,000 (GBP)
Funding ID ES/K00543X/1 
Organisation Economic and Social Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2013 
End 02/2014
 
Description Research matchmaking : linking the demand and supply of research expertise for migrant support in the UK and US
Amount £25,000 (GBP)
Funding ID ES/K00543X/1 
Organisation Economic and Social Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2013 
End 02/2014
 
Description Best practice responses in a challenging era for migrant support groups 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience
Results and Impact Presentation to South West Asylum Seeker and Refugee Forum. Invited. non-academic content, discussion and dissemination.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity
 
Description Best practice responses in a challenging era for migrant support groups 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience
Results and Impact Presentation and discussion of research at the Plymouth bi-monthly asylum seeker and refugee forum (invited). Non-academic in content.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity
 
Description Peopling immigration control : geographies of governing and activism in the British asylum system 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience
Results and Impact This was an invited departmental seminar given by Nick Gill at the Sussex Centre for Migration Research. The event was very productive and gave rise to a lively discussion.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity
 
Description Peopling immigration control : geographies of governing and activism in the British asylum system 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience
Results and Impact An invited presentation at the Unviersity of Copenhagen as part of a seminar entitled Ethnographic approaches to European asylum processes organised by Zachary Whyte and Katrine Syppli Kohl. The seminar was very productive and brought together a range of speakers interested in simialr things.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity
 
Description Peopling immigration control : geographies of governing and activism in the British asylum system 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience
Results and Impact This was an invtied lecture to Aberystwyth's geography departmennt as part of their dialogues in human geography lectures. The event was well attended and the discussion was very useful. The title is the title of a forthcoming book (Gill) with Wiley-Blackwell.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Social networking for collaboration 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Primary Audience
Results and Impact Workshop presentation on the use of online social media for social networking. Invited presentation for MedAct's Social Networking for Migrant Organsiations event. Non-academic dissemination.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity
 
Description The big picture : how the challenges refugee community groups face are changing 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Participants in your research or patient groups
Results and Impact This presentation (invited, non-academic) was the opening presentation of the BASIS project's one-day event in support of refugee supoprt groups in the South West, funded by the Refugee Council and Refugee Action.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
URL http://www.thebasisproject.org.uk/events/south-west-seminar-2011