Why don’t Afghan interpreters get to stay?

If you have worked for a Western military in places such as Afghanistan or Iraq, you may think that you would be able to settle in the Western country that you worked for, especially if your life is at risk due to the work you performed. But things are not that straight forward. A new report by the UK parliament’s Commons defence select committee is highly critical of how the UK government has treated Afghan interpreters and other civilians who are not safe in Afghanistan. Earlier this month, the UK government made some concessions towards interpreters who have applied for indefinite leave to remain in the UK.

Yet many people’s lives are still in limbo, including Nazir Ayeen’s, a former Afghan interpreter now living in the UK, who joins this episode to discuss how the UK and other Western countries treat their former military employees. We are also joined by Dr Sara de Jong, Research Fellow at the Open University. Sara de Jong currently conducts research on the claims for protection, rights and settlement by Afghans and Iraqis who have worked for Western military forces and development organisations, as well as on the activities and strategies of their supporters. She has written a blog about the issue here. Both Sara de Jong and Nazir Ayeen have evidence to the select committe, which you can read here and here.

Please note that this episode was recorded before the Commons report had been published.

What does the royal wedding (not) tell us about the UK family migration regime?

No one will have missed the royal wedding between American actress Meghan Markle and Prince Harry happening this week. Markle has moved to the UK is expected to become known as the Duchess of Sussex after the wedding. But not all family migration procedures are quite so joyful and straightforward. In a new research paper, Dr Marcia Vera Espinoza and Dr Joe Turner, both at the Department of Politics at the University of Sheffield, investigate the intimacy of the family migration visa application in the UK. They both have personal experience of the process, which is also part of the research. The disruption, fear and anxiety they describe is quite far from a fairy tale royal wedding.

You can read more about Joe Turner’s work on family migration here and here, and more about Marcia Vera Espinoza’s work on migration here. There is also some other work discussed in this episode and recommended by the guests: on the Windrush generation; on marriage migration to the UK and here; on intersectionality, whiteness and citizenship; and the book Imperial Leather.

What do we know about migrant smuggling at the US-Mexico border?

Migration policy-makers tend to portray the migrant smuggler as their main enemy. Not only do they help facilitate irregular migration, but they are also seen as exploitative of the people they are helping. But who are migrant smugglers and what do they do? To help answer these questions, I talked to Dr Gabriella Sanchez, Research Fellow at the Migration Policy Centre at the European University Institute. Gabriella Sanchez is an expert on migrant smuggling, but also on the US-Mexico border, so this episode also covers details of that particular border area. Gabriella Sanchez is the author of Human Smuggling and Border Crossings and several journal articles that you find for example here, here and here. The special issue mentioned in the episode is here.

Are we biased by methodological nationalism?

When we talk, write and research about migration, do we see like a nation? Would we approach issues differently, and ask different questions, if instead we saw like a migrant? In his new book Toward a Cosmopolitan Ethics of Mobility; The Migrant’s-Eye View of the World, Alex Sager, Associate Professor of Philosophy at Portland State University, claims that much research in migration is biased by methodological nationalism. If we could rid ourselves of methodological nationalism, perhaps we would be less focused, for example, on people moving between states and more focused on mobility as such. In this episode, Alex Sager discusses what methodological nationalism is and its consequences. He has also written about methodological nationalism here and recently edited the book The Ethics and Politics of Immigration: Core Issues and Emerging Trends.

Should there be no borders?

When we talk about migration, we assume the existence of borders. But what are borders? And should there be any? This is the topic of this episode with Bridget Anderson, Professor of Migration, Mobilities and Citizenship at the School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies at the University of Bristol. Bridget Anderson is well-known for her defence of No Borders, you can watch her TED talk here, as well as her 2013 book Us and Them? The Dangerous Politics of Immigration Control.

Can Jordan and Lebanon create jobs for refugees?

In September 2015, the president of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, King Abdullah of Jordan and David Cameron, then UK Prime Minister, met to discuss the so called Compact Model, to create jobs for refugees in Jordan. The Jordan Compact was agreed in early 2016 and a similar, but smaller scale Lebanon Compact followed.

Was the Compact Model the win-win solution everyone has been waiting for? In this episode I talk to journalists Daniel Howden and Charlotte Alfred at Refugees Deeply. They have investigated the impact of the Compact Models in Jordan and Lebanon and found that what was meant to work in certain ways on paper, turned out quite differently in practice. Read the full report here, a shorter version here and a further discussion here.

How do you support refugees?

Ahmad al-Rashid came to the UK from Syria in 2015. The journey took 55 days and was partly documented in the BBC documentary Exodus: Our Journey. Since arriving in the UK, Ahmad al-Rashid has campaigned for refugees and refugee integration. He is working with the course Aim Higher: Access to Higher Education for Refugees and Asylum Seekers. He was awarded a SOAS Sanctuary Scholarship and has just finished a Master’s degree in Violence, Conflict and Development at SOAS, University of London. He has written about his journey, about refugee rights and the Arab Spring for example here and here.  In this episode, he talks about getting to the UK, refugee integration, reforming the refugee system and how you support refugees before and after conflict.

What does it mean to be stateless?

Our world order is organised around sovereign states and each human being is meant to belong to at least one state where they are a citizen. Yet according to the UNHCR around 10 million people in the world are stateless – they do not have citizenship in any state. In a world completely occupied by territorially defined, sovereign states, what happens to those who do not belong anywhere? The topic has regained some urgency on the international political agenda as thousands of Rohingya, a stateless Muslim minority persecuted in Myanmar, have fled to Bangladesh in recent months. It is also the topic of a new book published by Routledge, Understanding Statelessness, edited by Tendayi Bloom, Phillip Cole and Katherine Tonkiss (use the code FLR40 for a discount).

Two of the editors, Tendayi Bloom, Lecturer in Politics and International Studies at the Open University, and Katherine Tonkiss, Lecturer in Sociology and Policy at Aston University, join this episode. Find out more about Katherine Tonkiss’ work on migration and citizenship here and here. Find out about Tendayi Bloom’s forthcoming book on noncitizens here and a blog post on statelessness and the Global Compact for Migration here. They have also written a series of blog posts in relation to the book here.

Watch the video on the Rohingya mentioned in the podcast here. Read more about the work of Greg Constantine here.

Is immigration bad for social cohesion?

Restrictions on immigration, as well as certain integration policies, are sometimes justified on the basis that too much, or a certain kind of, immigration risks erode social cohesion in democratic welfare states. Political philosophers who analyse the ethics of immigration have therefore become interested also in the empirical validity of these claims. This was the topic of a recent conference at the Centre for Advanced Migration Studies, University of Copenhagen. Two political philosophers who presented their work at the conference joins this episode to discuss social cohesion and immigration. Nils Holtug, Professor at the Department of Media, Cognition and Communication at the University of Copenhagen, runs a major research project on shared values on social cohesion and you can read some of his work on this topic here, here and here. Patti Tamara Lenard, Associate Professor Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa, has written extensively on trust, immigration and culture, especially in her book Trust, Democracy and Multicultural Challenges.

Who is a racist?

Has the debate on immigration been damaged by people too easily resorting to calling out racism? Or is it precisely racism that is at the heart of hostility towards immigration and contemporary white nationalism? Eric Kaufmann, Professor of Politics at Birkbeck University of London, has argued in a recent report for Policy Exchange that there is a distinction between racism and what he calls ‘racial self-interest’. The argument has proved controversial. One critique, Dr Garvan Walshe, CEO of Brexit Analytics, advisory board member of Migration Matters and columnist for Conservative Home, joins this podcast episode to discuss what racism is and what its role in the immigration debate is. You can find Walshe’s critique here.