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The Relationship Between Status and Rights
European Socio-Legal Studies Working Lives Research Institute London Metropolitan University, UK.
2009 (English)Report (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Undocumented migrants are usually conceptualised as individuals who have crossed borders illegally, have been smuggled or trafficked into the country and who are living in the shadows, working in the semi-legal and sometimes illegal economies. But in reality undocumented status is more complex. Using data from recently completed research, this paper explores how in the UK, where the state conceptualises migration status as fixed – either documented or undocumented - the reality is that migrants experience status transitions that can have a fundamental impact on their working lives. The paper argues that this has important consequences for how undocumented work should be perceived. The paper also explores the impact of ever-changing state policies on migration, which can shift workers from documented to undocumented status overnight. The paper additionally looks at the consequences, for individual workers, of a state policy that is inconsistent and based on the targeting of some minority ethnic groups. The paper furthermore demonstrates that the consequences of undocumented work are very poor pay and conditions with patterns of low pay among undocumented workers that can only be explained by conscious employer exploitation of their status. It also shows that attempts by the state to impose tougher sanctions on employers have largely been limited to action against ‘easy’ visible targets like minority ethnic businesses, even though in reality, given the estimates of the number of undocumented migrants in the UK, most must be working for ethnic majority employers, UK nationals operating in the formal sector.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press , 2009. , 19 p.
ThemES - Themes on Migration and Ethnic Studies, ISSN 1101-7570 ; 29
Keyword [en]
Agencies, employment, ethnicity, immigration policies, undocumented migrants, legal status
National Category
Social Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-51529OAI: diva2:275412
Available from: 2009-11-05 Created: 2009-11-05 Last updated: 2009-11-05Bibliographically approved

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