Pathways and Consequences of Legal Irregularity

Author:   Erik R Vickstrom
Publisher:   Springer
Reviewer:   Ms. Bharati Maurya

Pathways and Consequences of Legal Irregularity

Vickstrom, Erik R. (2019) Pathways and Consequences of Legal Irregularity: Senegalese Migrants in France, Italy and Spain, Springer Nature, IMISCOE Research Series; ISSN 2364-4087, 233 p

The book 'Pathways and Consequences of Legal Irregularity: Senegalese Migrants in France, Italy, and Spain' investigated the production of irregular legal status among Senegalese migrants in three European countries: France, Italy, and Spain, as well as the consequences of irregularity configurations, using an unexplored quantitative data source, the Migration between Africa and Europe (MAFE) study for empirical analysis. Its cutting-edge perspective allows for the investigation of circulation, return migration, and international behaviours. A historical chapter traces the emergence of immigration policies in each country, which establishes the boundaries for irregular legal status. The book's author highlighted three critical features of Senegalese migrants in European countries: irregular migratory paths, immigration policy, and the link between legal status and transnational activities. The author concentrated on three empirical evaluations based on existing literature and a secondary data source of MAFE.

The introductory chapter defines the concept of irregularity and is divided into three sections. The first section investigates the framework of immigration policy and control mechanisms across several settings of reception in order to comprehend the legal establishment of pathways to various types of irregular status among Senegalese migrants in France, Italy, and Spain. Its motive is to analyze the variance in policies within each setting over time and across different contexts. The second part is an empirical analysis that combines ideas from the first part's policy variation and applies them to a conceptual framework capable of making sense of numerous paths towards irregular status. The book's final section considers the implications of legal status configurations for Senegalese migrants' economic integration in France, Italy, and Spain, as well as their continuous transnational engagement in their homeland. Secondary data from the Migration between Africa and Europe (MAFE) project were used for this empirical study, which aimed to collect comparative and representative data on Sub-Saharan African migration using a multi-sited data collection methodology. These methods emphasize migration systems linking Africa and Europe in which people, culture, money, and ideas circulate transnational. Furthermore, it details the African countries and several European destinations for each of these African hubs, including the old colonial powerhouse and one or more new destinations; old colonial powerhouse in France while Italy and Spain are new destinations for Senegalese.

Chapter 2 examines the evolution of policy in diverse circumstances of reception. The author uses this range of destinations to investigate how variance in the socio-legal aspects of different receiving environments causes complicated legal status trajectories for this brave group of migrants. Tables 2.2 (pp 36), 2.3 (pp 57), and 2.4 (pp 64) summarize important immigration policies in France, Italy, and Spain and their effects on migrant irregularity. In outline, this chapter demonstrated that differences in reception environments resulted in various socio-legal configurations that gave birth to irregularity paths. For most of the 1960s and 1970s, Senegalese citizens held de facto regular status in France. As the preferential regime crumbled, irregularities became more common among Senegalese.

Chapter 3 evaluated the numerous pathways into irregular status for Senegalese migrants, stated that irregularity is "legally manufactured" by immigration rules, and urged for a context-dependent, multidimensional, and longitudinal complexity of temporal and categorical irregularity in Figure 3.1 (pp 77). The chapter hypothesized that context, measured by both destination and period, would structure both geographic and status flows into irregularity, drawing on literature that argues for both a multidimensional definition of irregularity and recognising the important role that socio-legal contexts play in setting the parameters of irregularity. From 1960 to 2008, Table 3.1 also showed the legal dimensions of irregularity for Senegalese migrants in France, Italy, and Spain (pp 80). The multidimensionality of irregularity investigates the many routes migrants take during their journeys toward irregularity.

 For this purpose, a limited set of three concrete pathways into irregularity were identified for empirical examination, and the pathways of no-visa ("irregular") entry, overstaying- are more susceptible to both contextual variables and access to forms of capital, implying that both state control and migrant agency shape these pathways. Besides, Befallen irregularity is less connected to contextual variance, possibly because immigration laws and enforcement resources are not focused on migrant integration. Three hypotheses are used for the variation in irregularity pathways: the legal and social production of irregularity, migrant capital and strategic action, and links between irregularity pathways in host country institutions, which are significantly associated with irregularity. This study discovered that prior legal status was required for all pathways. Understanding the possible structure and path dependency of irregularity forms might provide fresh insight into the influence of irregularity on migrants' life chances.

Chapter 4 studied the relationship between legal status and economic absorption of Senegalese migrants for the gendering of immigration policies in France, Italy, and Spain, using a strategy sensitive to the multiplicity of female migration patterns while also comparing women to males. At the same time, women migrate outside the legal reunification procedures, either as informal reunified migrants or as autonomous migrants with a variety of legally recognized statuses. The present research on migrant economic inclusion is mainly incapable of dealing with this variability since it does not consider either uneven labour-force participation or the relationship between legal status and gender. Senegalese men would have greater possibilities for labour-market entry regardless of their legal status. Women's labour-market involvement would thus be shaped by their legal status, with women reuniting with spouses at a destination less likely to work than autonomous women or males.


Simultaneously, the chapter hypothesized that females reunited might have an easier time eventually transitioning into the work market. The empirical investigation also addressed the gender viewpoint, focusing on the employment patterns of men and women. At the same time, family reunification may be associated with women's inactivity during the year of arrival. However, it does not necessarily preclude eventual labour-market participation, as evidenced by retrospective biographical data on Senegalese migrants' economic activities, union formation, childbearing, and administrative history. The author's findings also indicated that the Senegalese males are consistent with research indicating that migrants in such countries do not incur an "ethnic penalty" in the likelihood of employment but may encounter problems in occupational mobility. In comparison, Senegalese women with legal status configurations suggestive of family reunification were more likely to be economically inactive upon arrival than women with other legal status configurations.

The author discovered that male Senegalese migrants' chances of finding work in all three nations were unaffected by their lack of legal status. On the other hand, employment is not restricted by irregular status, although irregularity may hinder Senegalese migrants' capacity to join the official labour market. The legal status enhances the precariousness of these migrants, demonstrating the legal reality that limits the global movement of migrants with completely irregular status. However, the mechanism of this legal restraint remains somewhat ambiguous.

Chapter 5 addressed Senegalese migrants' legal status, geographical confinement, and transnational activities in France, Italy, and Spain. Through the perspectives of territorial confinement and blocked transnationalism, the author investigates the relationship between legal status and transnational activity. It hypothesizes that irregular legal status leads to direct territorial confinement—the inability to visit one's homeland—and indirectly cages non-mobile transnational activities. The withering of affective links associated with diminished physical co-presence with relatives and other vital persons in the homeland, from whom migrants frequently derive their feeling of status, is the cause of this caging. Ch 5 also looked at how irregular status limits non-mobile transnational operations by excluding them from institutions in the destination country.

The literature on transnationalism has frequently praised migrants' ability to defy governmental authority through cross-border activity. The author discussed the relationship between Senegalese migrants' legal status and their transnational activities in France, Italy, and Spain. The empirical research also projected that migrants' inability to traverse numerous institutional restrictions that would stymie their non-mobile transnational activities would be hampered. This evidence found that legal status is a significant predictor of transnational participation, mainly when the direct legal limitation on physical mobility is considered in conjunction with other non-mobile kinds of cross-border action. Simultaneously, the resilience of most transnational activities' social and affective infrastructure suggests that legal status may restrict but does not totally define cross-border behaviour. This chapter demonstrates that even migrants who lack both residency and employment permits have a non-zero chance of crossing the destination state's geographical border for a brief visit to Senegal and engaging in other transnational activities.

Overall, the book examined the growth of these immigration laws in depth throughout the book, seeking to understand how measures aimed at limiting irregular migration created new channels into irregular status. A quantitative examination of these routes found that irregularity was more prevalent in destinations and periods when rigorous restrictions were imposed. Furthermore, legal statuses substantially impact women's economic inclusion, with legal status configurations linked with family reunification increasing women's economic and administrative reliance through lower labour-market involvement. As a result, a fragile group becomes even more susceptible. At the same time, the findings indicate that tight immigration rules do not always prevent migrants from arriving, staying, and working illegally in France, Italy, and Spain. The major impediment to their efforts is legal uncertainty in the destination nations, which damages these social ties. It is the most fundamental aspect of destination countries' immigration policies, and sending-country measures do nothing to modify the inherent legal exclusion many migrants confront. Finally, the migrants and their communities face the weight of this incoherence. Effective immigration policies in Europe and Senegal would benefit from harmonizing their aims to encourage general human development and capacity-building and establish chances for economic engagement and circulation between the destination and the motherland.

However, the author did not investigate the Senegalese migrants' education, income, or socio-economic background. Consider that the author could develop a historical model employing life course data from the survey to investigate the various employment probabilities in host countries. In such a situation, we can see an accurate picture of the legal irregularities along those pathways.


Reviewed by Ms. Bharati Maurya

Ms. Bharati Maurya is a research scholar pursuing Ph. D. at the International Institute of Population Science in Mumbai, India. Her research interests include migration, remittances, urbanization, diaspora, migration policy, public health, ageing and gender issues. Email: <[email protected]>


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