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.

Should migration scholars be realistic or idealistic?

Apologies for the sound quality of this episode. We’re working to fix it!

In 1987 Joseph Carens, Professor and Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, University of Toronto, pioneered political philosophy on immigration by making the case for open borders. In his most recent book, The Ethics of Immigration, he restated his case for keeping borders open. Yet some people find that this is simply too idealistic and that even political philosophers must think about what can actually be done in the real world. Carens himself discusses this, for example here and in his recent book. He joins the podcast to talk about whether, when it comes to immigration, we should be idealists or realists, or both.

Is there a way through the Balkan route?

One of the ways that refugees have tried to make it to Europe is through the so called ‘Balkan route‘. Yet as EU and European leaders have tried to shut this way by increasing border controls, many refugees and other migrants have become trapped along the Balkan route. A research team, IR and Aesthetics, from Aston University have just returned from Serbia, Macedonia and Greece, where they spoke to the people who are stuck and those who are trying to help. In this podcast episode, we hear from two of the researchers, Dr Gemma Bird and Dr Patrycja Rozbicka, who discuss how refugees use technology to stay informed about border changes, the use of graffiti to make political statements and the prospects for those trapped on their journey.

The team collected many photos and videos from the Balkan route, which are available through their Facebook and Twitter pages.