Skip to main content
×
Home
    • Aa
    • Aa

Asylum Seekers and the Labour Market: Spaces of Discomfort and Hostility

  • Louise Waite (a1)
Abstract

This article examines the relationship in the UK between asylum-seeking and the labour market. Since 2002, asylum-seekers have not been allowed to work unless they have waited over twelve months for an initial decision on their asylum claim. This policy change occurred as employment was considered a ‘pull factor’ encouraging unfounded asylum claims. Despite not having the right to work, asylum-seekers – and especially those whose applications for refugee status have been refused by the UK government – interact with the labour market in manifold ways. Drawing on an ESRC-funded study in the UK's Yorkshire and Humber region and related studies, this article argues that both asylum-seekers and refused asylum-seekers form a hyper-exploitable pool of ‘illegalised’ and unprotected workers. As a vital part of their survival terrain, work is largely experienced as for-cash labouring in low-paid labour market sectors where the spectre of exploitation and even ‘modern slavery’ are perpetual threats. Recent policy shifts are deepening such threats through creating increasingly ‘uncomfortable’ and ‘hostile’ environments for certain categories of migrants.

Copyright
References
Hide All
AlivertiA. (2015) ‘Enlisting the public in the policing of immigration’, British Journal of Criminology, 55, 215–30.
AllsoppJ., SigonaN. and PhillimoreJ. (2014) ‘Poverty among asylum seekers in the UK: an evidence and policy review’, IRIS working paper series No. 1/214, University of Birmingham, Birmingham.
BlochA. (2014) ‘Living in fear: rejected asylum seekers living as irregular migrants in England’, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 40, 1507–25.
BlochA. and McKayS. (2015) Sanctioning Employers Does not Prevent Exploitation and Unfree Labour, https://www.opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/alice-bloch-sonia-mckay/sanctioning-employers-does-not-prevent-exploitation-and-unfree [accessed 15.01.2017].
BlochA. and SchusterL. (2005) ‘At the extremes of exclusion: deportation, detention and dispersal’, Ethnic and Racial Studies, 28, 491512.
BlochA., SigonaN. and ZetterR. (2009) ‘No Right to Dream’. The Social and Economic Lives of Young Undocumented Migrants in Britain, London: Paul Hamlyn Foundation.
BlochA., SigonaN. and ZetterR. (2011) ‘Migration routes and strategies of young undocumented migrants in England: a qualitative perspective’, Ethnic and Racial Studies, 34, 1286–302.
BowsherG. M., KrishnanR. A., ShanahanT. A. and WilliamsS. K. (2015) ‘Immigration Act 2014 challenges health of migrants in the UK’, The Lancet, 385, 829914.
BurnettJ. and WhyteD. (2010) The Wages of Fear: Risk, Safety and Undocumented Work, Leeds: PAFRAS and the University of Liverpool.
De GenovaN. P. (2002) ‘Migrant “illegality” and deportability in everyday life’, Annual Review of Anthropology, 31, 419–47.
DüvellF. and JordanB. (2002) ‘Immigration, asylum and welfare: the European context’, Critical Social Policy, 22, 498517.
FlynnD. (2015) ‘New immigration bill will push irregular migrants into a system of modern day slavery’, Migrants' Rights Network, http://www.migrantsrights.org.uk/news/2015/new-immigration-proposal-will-push-irregular-migrants-system-modern-day-slavery [accessed 30.11.2016].
ForsterK. (2016) ‘Hate crimes soared by 41% after Brexit vote, official figures reveal’, The Independent, London.
GibneyM. (2008) ‘Asylum and the expansion of deportation in the United Kingdom’, Government and Opposition, 43, 139–43.
HarveyA. (2016) The Immigration Act 2016: Seminar for Lawworks, http://www.ilpa.org.uk/resources.php/32676/immigration-act-2016-seminar-for-lawworks-13-november-2016 [accessed 30.11.2016].
Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) (2015) ‘No Passport Equals no Home’: An Indepedent Evaluation of the ‘Right to Rent’ Scheme, London: Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants.
Joint Committee on Human Rights (2007) The Treatment of Asylum Seekers, Tenth Report of Session 2006–07, Vol. 1, Report and formal minutes, Joint Committee on Human Rights.
JonesH., BhattacharyyaG., DaviesW., DhaliwalS., ForkertK., GunaratnamY., JacksonE. and SaltusR. (2015) Go Home. Mapping the Unfolding Controversy of Home Office Immigration Campaigns, Coventry: University of Warwick.
KoserK. (2010) ‘Dimensions and dynamics of irregular migration’, Population, Space and Place, 16, 181–93.
LewisH., DwyerP., HodkinsonS. and WaiteL. (2014) ‘Hyper-precarious lives? Migrants, work and forced labour in the Global North’, Progress in Human Geography, 39, 580600.
MayT. (2014) Modern Slavery Bill, London: The Stationary Office.
MayblinL. (2016) ‘What will Brexit mean for asylum in the UK?’, Open Democracy, https://www.opendemocracy.net/lucy-mayblin/what-will-brexit-mean-for-asylum-in-uk [accessed 15.01.2017].
MayblinL. (2017) Asylum After Empire: Colonial Legacies in the Politics of Asylum Seeking, London: Rowman & Littlefield International.
McKayS., MarkovaE., ParaskevopoulouA. and WrightT. (2009) The Relationship between Migration Status and Employment Outcomes, Birmingham: Undocumented Worker Transitions.
MorganJ. and OlsenW. (2009) ‘Unfreedom as the shadow of freedom: an initial contribution to the meaning of unfree labour’, Manchester Papers in Political Economy Working Paper, University of Manchester.
PettittJ. (2013) The Poverty Barrier: The Right to Rehabilitation for Survivors of Torture in the UK, London: Freedom from Torture.
Refugee Action (2006) The Destitution Trap: Research into Destitution among Refused Asylum Seekers in the UK, London: Refugee Action.
RobinsonV. and SegrottJ. (2002) ‘Understanding the decision-making of asylum seekers’, Home Office Research Study 243, Home Office, London.
SigonaN. (2012) ‘“I have too much baggage”: the impacts of legal status on the social worlds of irregular migrants’, Social Anthropology, 20, 5065.
SmartK. (2009) The Second Destitution Tally: An Indication of the Extent of Destitution among Asylum Seekers, Refused Asylum Seekers and Refugees, London: Asylum Support Partnership.
The Children's Society (2013) A Briefing from The Children's Society Highlighting the Gap between Asylum Support and Mainstream Benefits, London: The Children's Society.
ToshkovD. (2014) ‘The dynamic relationship between asylum applications and recognition rates in Europe (1987–2010)’, European Union Politics, 15, 192214.
TravisA. (2013) ‘Immigration bill: Theresa May defends plans to create “hostile environment”’, The Guardian, 10 October 2013.
Trades Union Congress (TUC) (2016) Managing Migration Better for Britain, https://www.tuc.org.uk/sites/default/files/ManagingmigrationbetterforBritain.pdf [accessed 15.01.2017].
ValentaM. (2015) ‘The nexus of asylum seeker migrations and asylum policy: longitudinal analysis of migration trends in Norway’, International Journal on Minority and Group Rights, 21, 371–94.
ValentineR. (2010) Hope Costs Nothing: The Lives of Undocumented Migrants in the UK, London: Migrants Resource Centre and Barrow Cadbury Trust.
WaiteL., DwyerP., HodkinsonS. and LewisH. (2015a) ‘Refused asylum seekers as the hyper-exploited’, in Waite L., Craig G., Lewis H. and Skrivankova K. (eds.), Vulnerability, Exploitation and Migrants: Insecure Work in a Globalised Economy, Basingstoke: Palgrave.
WaiteL., LewisH., CraigG. and SkrivankovaK. (2015b) Vulnerability, Exploitation and Migrants: Insecure Work in a Globalised Economy, Basingstoke: Palgrave.
WaiteL. and LewisH. (2017) ‘Precarious irregular migrants and their sharing economies: a spectrum of transactional labouring experiences’, Annals of the American Association of Geographers, http://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/7s2ZBdXejBs8xEjqEqGn/full.
WebberF. (2004) ‘Asylum – from deterrence to destitution’, Race and Class, 45, 7785.
Yuval-DavisN., WemyssG. and CassidyK. (2017) Bordering, Cambridge: Polity Press.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Social Policy and Society
  • ISSN: 1474-7464
  • EISSN: 1475-3073
  • URL: /core/journals/social-policy-and-society
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords:

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 7
Total number of PDF views: 40 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 214 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 31st May 2017 - 23rd October 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.