Irregular Migration in Europe (Research in Migration and Ethnic Relations Series)
According to the editor, 'Irregular Migration in Europe: Myths and Realities' is designed to be a general reader on irregular migration in Europe where irregular migration is described as a much discussed but under- researched topic. The book contains 15 chapters, with 12 devoted to different EU (European Union) member states. These countries were selected because of their relatively high exposure to irregular migration in order are: Austria, the Czech Republic, Greece, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Spain, and the UK. The first chapter provides terminology and definitions as well as an overview of irregular immigration in Europe in the early 21st century. A central theme in the book is "counting the uncountable", because current estimates of the size and scope of the irregular migration population are characterized as "guesstimates", numbers which assume a life of their own, and are not relevant to national policy level decisions regarding migration. Chapter Two discusses current EU irregular migration policies and assesses their scope and effectiveness. The institutional framework is framed as the "Europeanization' of immigration policies", and the chapter then discusses institutions, integration, measures, external and internal factors and the globalization of European economies, and their effects on irregular migration in Europe.
Chapters 3 through 14 present the country level current irregular migration picture in the 12 countries. There vast differences among countries; some are destination countries, others transit countries, and others have historically been origin countries and their status has changed over time to become destination countries for irregular migrants. For some countries, concern with immigration policy is a new phenomenon, because they are newly constituted nations because of the fall of communism. The effects of EU membership, as well as formation of the Schengen Agreement, on EU countries are addressed, but the specific policy areas dealing with irregular migration are narrowed to two main concerns, specifically irregular entry and stay and irregular work. This means the country-level chapters deal with issues like boarder management and return policies, the externalization of boarder control, and the use of information technology in policy enforcement. Chapters also address each country's socio-economic and political context, including media and political discourses on irregular migration, as well as paths into and out of irregular status. The countries that serve as origin countries for irregular migrants are identified in each chapter and the total numbers residents from each is estimated in irregular immigration population.
The most important country level issue for irregular migration is identified as the labour market, especially irregular employment and its role in the status of immigrants. The country level chapters reveal that most irregular immigrants are not illegal border crossers, but rather persons who enter countries on visas and over-stay their legal time periods, mainly because of work related issues, especially for work in informal labour markets. Pathways into and out of irregular status, are identified and discussed for each country. These include amnesty or regularization programs that allow irregular migrants the opportunity to stay and work legally after fulfilling certain conditions. These programs create another category of irregular migrants, what are known as "befallen" irregular migrants, persons in the process of becoming permanent legal residents who return to irregular status because of bureaucratic red tape failure to meet a requirement like proof of regular employment. Political asylum seekers receive some attention as do persons who are deportable but are tolerated by the authorities. The overall conclusions drawn in the volume is that the numbers of irregular immigrants in Europe are known to be declining, because of the freedom of movement provided by EU and Schengen Zone membership. However, for citizens of the EU residence irregularity has been replaced by employment based irregularity.
Perhaps the most interesting feature of this book is the way the authors of the various chapters deal with the question of "counting the uncountable". Some rely on the available range of estimates and move on from the question. Others present a range of information based on administrative, enforcement and asylum requests. Regardless of the amount of information provided, lack of reliable data, especially centralized data collection, is a constant theme. Spain is cited as unique in Europe because of the data available on the number of immigrants. A country that has experienced an extraordinary rate of irregular immigration, Spain encourages and provides incentives to register on their local censuses (or padrones). While not without its problems, this administrative data source appears to be the best in Europe in terms of estimating country level irregular migrant populations in Europe. The point of all this discussion of enumeration is to encourage collaborative research among academics, countries and policy makers in the effort to create effective immigration policies.
In summary, I would recommend this book to anyone interested in irregular immigration in Europe. The two introductory and final chapters are informative and all of the books chapters are well written. This book would serve well as a reference or resource book for graduate students or researchers studying irregular migration in Europe. Some country level chapters identify sources that are not available elsewhere, some in the country's native language, but also available in English and some online.
Lincoln J. Fry
Port St Lucie, Florida, USA