When the UK creates ‘disposable’ immigrants

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The UK’s immigration system uses a combination of strong emotion and lack of emotion to portray migrants as “threatening, polluting and unimportant”, creating a group of people who are ultimately easy to deport and “throw away,” says a new study.

Across the immigration, asylum and detention systems, four emotions stand out from the rest: anger, disgust, suspicion and fear, creating an environment where migrants’ emotions and lives face disinterest and disbelief; their expressions of emotion are ignored or punished, and where decision-makers and immigration system staff act emotionally detached from their subject.

In a study published in the specialist journal Identities, Dr Melanie Griffiths, from the University of Birmingham, draws on 15 years of research across the UK’s immigration and asylum systems to explore how emotions have an impact on migrants and those responsible.

According to Dr. Griffiths, “although immigration systems are presented as rational and neutral, these four emotions – anger, disgust, suspicion and fear – are never far away, creating a system that is both terribly emotional and, strangely, emotionless.”

“The system is full of varying intensities of anger. From “fiery” immigration judges who lose their cool, to government staff who are stupid, antagonism, hostility and aggression are widespread,” the researcher added.

“Similarly, the immigration system is saturated with anxiety. Immigration judges fear tabloid attacks. Politicians worry about the repercussions if they miss the targets, and ministers suffer from a panicked fear of being judged as being “too soft” on immigration. »

Dr. Griffiths uses the concept of “emotional governance,” or the governing of the emotions of self and others, to explore how emotions within the immigration system are controlled, managed, manipulated, demanded and denied.

Depriving migrants of their rights
Despite a façade of legal rationality, bureaucracies managing migration employ emotional governance to disenfranchise migrants, it is argued – fueling racial categorization and domination, as well as creating people deemed simultaneously threatening. , polluting and unimportant.

The specialist found that the four main emotions are so important within the British immigration system that they should not only be seen as a feature of the system, but also as actively contributing to producing the system currently in force in the country. .

In addition to these intense emotions, immigration officials act with frightening coldness and disinterest, says Dr. Griffiths, by prohibiting or ignoring displays of emotion on the part of migrants, in addition to questioning or to reject their own emotions and those of newcomers.

“Coldness and disinterest are widespread – officials judging visa applications for a spouse, for example, question the veracity and strength of the romantic relationship, while those assessing applications for marital status refugees question the fears and honesty of the applicants,” the specialist further commented.

“Feelings of disgust, or revulsion, are also evident among those who manage border policies. Gender-based asylum systems can be particularly prone to dislike, shame and humiliation. Also, housing new asylum seekers in isolated barges and barracks reflects underlying feelings of contagion and loathing toward people deemed offensive or infectious. »

This article is originally published on pieuvre.ca

 

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