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Borders by Proxy, Europe's Aggressive Border Restrictions and the Perils of Young African Migrants

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Borders by Proxy, Europe's Aggressive Border Restrictions and the Perils of Young African Migrants

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The intrinsic challenges in the intersection of international laws and codes of praxis with respect to the operation of EU states' border officials towards migrant individuals, to be specific, migrant African youth, is particularly pathetic and is a statement about the state's commitment and compliance to its obligation and to the tenets of universal human rights law. This paper uses secondary data analysis and anti-racist and anti-colonial theories to examine the currently troubling dynamics of youth's transnational border-crossing experiences. It concludes inter alia, that an understanding of the thought processes of potential migrants and their resolve to reach their goals at all cost might bring about a shift in the view of transnational migration stakeholders and scholars, and possibly chart a new trajectory, that might engender some modifications in existing policies for accommodation, and effective handling of the globally burgeoning cases of migrant individual.
Sociology Mind, 2015, 5, 84-99
Published Online April 2015 in SciRes. http://www.scirp.org/journal/sm
http://dx.doi.org/10.4236/sm.2015.52009
How to cite this paper: Nwalutu, M. O. (2015). Borders by Proxy, Europe’s Aggressive Border Restrictions and the Perils of
Young African Migrants. Sociology Mind, 5, 84-99. http://dx.doi.org/10.4236/sm.2015.52009
Borders by Proxy, Europe’s Aggressive
Border Restrictions and the Perils of
Young African Migrants
Michael Onyedika Nwalutu
Social Justice Education, OISE, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
Email: michael.nwalutu@mail.utoronto.ca
Received 29 December 2014; accepted 20 February 2015; published 28 February 2015
Academic Editor: Felicia Ihuoma Nwalutu, University of Toronto, Canada
Copyright © 2015 by author and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.
This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution International License (CC BY).
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Abstract
The intrinsic challenges in the intersection of international laws and codes of praxis with respect
to the operation of EU states’ border officials towards migrant individuals, to be specific, migrant
African youth, is particularly pathetic and is a statement about the state’s commitment and com-
pliance to its obligation and to the tenets of universal human rights law. This paper uses second-
ary data analysis and anti-racist and anti-colonial theories to examine the currently troubling dy-
namics of youth’s transnational border-crossing experiences. It concludes inter alia, that an un-
derstanding of the thought processes of potential migrants and their resolve to reach their goals at
all cost might bring about a shift in the view of transnational migration stakeholders and scholars,
and possibly chart a new trajectory, that might engender some modifications in existing policies
for accommodation, and effective handling of the globally burgeoning cases of migrant individual.
Keywords
Borders, Migration, Youth, Transnational, Globalization, Racism, Colonization
1. Introduction
The intersection of the survivalist’s ambitions of African migrant youth and the border-restriction operations of
European Union authorities is becoming a predictable oxymoron. More so when insidious plague of racism
combines with the political and socio-economic activities of the industrialized North to continue to perpetuate
disruptions in the developing South (Simms, 2009; Chomsky, 2006; Willinsky, 1998), constituting citizens pre-
M. O. Nwalutu
85
viously settled and peaceful into stateless forced migrants (Nwalutu, 2014; Baxter, 2008; Chua, 2003). These
forcefully displaced migrants, mainly youth from the global South are continuously faced with enormous re-
strictive rules designed to check their entry into receiving societies of the North. There is therefore an emerging
concern on the impact of the heightened securitization of borders and intensification of selective migrant sur-
veillance on the cultures of economic and political migration in countries of the industrialized North, specifi-
cally the EU states as it affects African migrant youth and the international freedom of movement.
2. Author’s Subjective Position
As a Western-educated Nigerian-Canadian, it is still difficult to attempt to answer some of the questions sur-
rounding why young adults like me would decide to leave our familiar environments of birth, ignoring the un-
certainties of being an alien in a foreign country and migrating thousands of miles across transnational borders
to find new abodes overseas. It is even more perplexing to realize that despite daily inundation with news of
tragic ordeals of young Africans involved in migration across the international boundaries to Europe, more and
more youth are ever ready to risk it to Oversea. Also the current global economic recession digging at the heels
of most nations including European nationsmeans hostility from the citizens of these nations who would look
on immigrants with suspicion-that they constitute strains on their nations dwindling resources (Kimon, 2009;
Ngai, 2005; Li, 2003). I am therefore writing bestride two worldsone in which academic, economic and so-
cio-political privileges enjoyed by a few negates the right of other citizens enmeshed in bureaucratic bottlenecks
and policy imperativesand the other in which the limitations imposed on me by natural positioning in birth,
political policies and material realities of the social environment conflate to redefine migrants identity and hu-
manity. I am writing from the standpoint of epistemic saliency defined by George Sefa Dei (2011) as speaking
from the authenticity of one’s own experiences and voice. In other words, a space that allows a local subject to
speak of his/her informed knowledge-base as distinct from being spoken for. It is the consciousness of my posi-
tioning in these two distinct worlds and inherent experiences which, constantly nudge me up to attempt to ex-
plore the ever-widening gap between the transnational migrants (specifically, migrant youth) and the receiving
societies that informs my decision to explore in this work, the inherent contradictions of international laws and
codes of practices with respect to the operation of EU states’ border officials towards migrant individuals, espe-
cially migrant African youth. By so doing I hope to accentuate the duplicitous role of the EU states in the unsa-
vory and often tragic migration experiences of African youth. Two questions will guide the thrust of this paper,
which includes: how might transnational border restrictions serve as a pointer to the commitment of states to in-
ternational humanitarian laws? How might we begin to reappraise transnational youth migrants positioning in
the context of the global whole?
3. Review of Literature
The battle of border control is presently going far beyond the ambits of the nation state, to imagined territories.
Against this backdrop, Bigo and Guild (2005) examines the link between the prevailing border securitization,
penalization and incarceration as they affect Western countries and the new form of border controlling (policing
from distance) or from delocalized borders to new social and imagined territory within and outside the territorial
boundaries of the nation state. Elspeth Guild (2005) raises a critical question in his book contribution as he asks:
…who is entitled to move?(p. 14). Guild notes that globalization is the positioning of economy-driven mobil-
ity above the authority of the nation state in which multi-national corporations secure passage across the barriers
of transnational borders using their economic powers. Of import to my paper is Guild’s recognition that: “The
right to move for economic gain, whether in the form of goods, capital, service or persons, in a globalizing
world is increasingly limited to those who are already economically advantaged” (p. 14). And I would add, to
those deemed acceptable to the host nations. For instance, in Araujo (2014), the realization of another group of
subordinate “Other” in more recent developments as opposed to the usual African migrants poses a serious
problematization of conscience and re-evaluation of action to the immigration policy makers in Portugal. Until
now, immigrants probably were the “illegal Africans”, so dubbed by the nation state’s coloniality of power and
tropes of racism. But now, Brazilians and Ukrainians are part of the burgeoning migrant labor border-crashers in
Portugal. The notion of cultural diversity in a supposedly homogenous Portugal thus became a concern for the
critics of Portugal immigration policy. I argue therefore that accepting the narratives of globalization as a pre-
cursor for racism in immigration discourses in Portugal as elsewhere, subsumes neo-colonial projects into the
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86
dynamics of push and pull rationality, which apparently obscures the role of extant colonial projects that globa-
lization represents. In contemporary constitution of race and debates on immigration in Portugal, as in other Eu-
ropean countries, current influences and perpetuation of subjugation through colonial legacies are always oc-
cluded (Toasije, 2009). I argue that Araujo’s (2014) use of post-colonial is both illogical and unrealistic because
it is an assumption or outright denial of the presence of colonization in the current global socio-political
processes. Neo-colonial subjugation is not just the persisting lived experiences of countries of developing South,
but a continuously breeding, and mutating socio-political canker-worm. Therefore contemporary narrative on
immigration and diversity in Portugal as in many Western states depoliticizes colonization through the logics of
history and indigenous connections. This denial of colonization to establish a false link to interculturality, wit-
tingly evades the racism concerns engendered by the presence of the migrant Other in the host society.
4. EU Border Restriction and African Migrants through the Lenses of
Anti-Colonial/Anti-Racist Discourses
Racism is a preconceived process that derogatorily labels an individual or group for the purpose of segregation,
marginalization, domination and imposition of hegemony by the dominant individual(s). It is an act of social re-
presentation and construction of difference aimed at positioning the dominant social group to enjoy certain ex-
clusive privileges that are girded around by socio-political power imbalances and barricaded from the subordi-
nate individual(s) with taboos of normativity. It is difficult to talk about race without looking into power rela-
tionships which is where the 19th century Western colonization and present neo-colonial structures and processes
play critical roles. Sefa Dei (2011) reasons that as anti-racists agents we must move to an inclusive race-based
analysis of colonial relations with the understanding that representation is not only about subject identities and
identifications but also about fundamental issues of economic, material and structural manifestations in existing
human conditions. Antiracist theory therefore must aim to redress these fundamental issues. As an analytical
approach anti-colonial framework is a perspective that challenges all manifestations of hegemony and imposi-
tion of ideas and practices of cultural and socio-political domination. In other words, any exercise of self-asser-
tion or self-location is meaningful if it seeks to challenge or disrupt existing social dynamics of power imbal-
ances.
Relating the discourses of anti-racism to the phenomenon of African youth’s experiences at the transnational
borders, particularly at the extended borders of the European Union, the realities of lopsided power relationship
begins to emerge. The systems of border securitization and surveillance are designed to intercept and detain sig-
nifiers of racialized bodies or their representation. The taking up of such worded symbolisms as victims of traf-
fickers, Illegal migrants, Clandestine and Boat-people are racist coinages of representation and markers of social
difference at the borders of European Union. The disturbing reality of representation of difference is the posi-
tioning of the racialized individual(s) at the margins of social echelon. Spaces such as the transnational borders
have the tendency to reproduce hegemony, dominance and privilege because such spaces also come with partic-
ular histories and readings. Therefore the experiences of the racialized bodies of African youth in European borders
cannot be fully grasped in discourses of splits binaries of regular or irregular, legal and illegal migrants, because we
are not unaware of the maxim that occupying certain spaces comes with meanings and politics. The racial posi-
tioning of whiteness at international borders implies that Europe wields an unlimited power to extend its authority
of border surveillance to the North African sea ports of Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt and Morocco. These ports
are patrolled by FRONTEX, an EU border security agency charged with keeping the unwanted vagrant bodies out
of mainland Europe. One would be tempted to ask what complicit role the leaders of these African frontline states
are playing to make EU aggressive border policies and praxis worthwhile. The answer is worst than imagined.
Many young Africans have been brutally gunned-down at the borders of North Africa on passage to Europe (see
Brachet, 2012; Baxter, 2008; Toasije, 2009). It is paradoxical however, that Europeans traveling to Africa do not
face similar harassment, criminalization, restrictions detention and deportation African youth migrants suffer at the
borders of Europe. Whiteness is a system and is also a property. There is therefore a politicization of biological
pigmentation at the spaces of representation. Whiteness thus becomes a pigmentary passport of privilege. Dei
(2011) reasons therefore that whiteness has no meaning outside of colonialism and oppression.
Applebaum (2005) further points out that:
The discourse of meritocracy functions to marginalize certain groups of people by allowing whites to direct
attention away from their own privilege and to ignore larger patterns of racial injustice. The assumption
M. O. Nwalutu
87
that people get ahead as a result of individual effort or merit conceals how social, economic and cultural
privileges facilitate the success of some groups of people but not others. Moreover, it allows the privileged
to see themselves as innocent bystanders rather than participants in a system that creates, maintains and re-
produces social injustice (p. 286).
To young Africans therefore, colonization and racism brought about major severance (that Frantz Fanon re-
ferred to as amputation) of the colonized peoples first, from themselves, and then from their environment, cul-
ture and knowledge base. Thus alienated from their languages (Wa Thiong’O, 1986), knowledge of their past,
and their environment (Sefa Dei, 2011; Lebakeng, 2010), and having lost touch with their identity and humanity,
devoid of liberty and freedom as human beings (Fanon, 1967), and completely oblivious of the basis of their
humanity, that is, spirituality (Sefa Dei, 2011; Wane, 2007), the colonizer’s imposed ways of knowing became
reified, essentialized and taken up as the way of salvation from the supposedly “primitive” entrapment the colo-
nized knew before the encounter. After the partitioning, and subsequent colonization of Africa by Europe for in-
stance, the West realized that the task was not just to rid the continent of its epistemological and ontological
bases and cultural heritages but to also contest the legacies of earlier Arab colonization and cultural vitiation. In
his Black skin, White masks, Frantz Fanon (1952) depicts his view on human nature which must not be encased
or subjugated for it is human destiny to be free. The annexation of Africa, imposition of foreign rule and cultural
suppression coupled with ruthless brutality meted out on the colonized bodies, was in Fanon’s view a measure
of violencethat left significant damage on the psyche of the colonized; depriving them of their freedom, and
liberty. To Fanon each of these tasks might require violence for decolonization is as much a “violent phenome-
non” as colonization itself (p. 99). The acculturated young Africans became persistently irrelevant to their cul-
tural environments and would emigrate to Europe as a measure of claiming whiteness. These colonized and ra-
cialized bodies foresee freedom in claiming whiteness because whiteness can be claimed and embraced by
non-white bodies. Criminalizing these migrants, restricting them and denying them the freedom they crave is
still another display of power imbalance and a reenactment of race at the disposal of the dominant social group.
Therefore the engagement of anti-racism is also about acknowledging that despite the relative saliencies of dif-
ferent identities, and the situational and contextual variations in the intensities of oppression, race privilege and
white identities are profound (Dei, 2011). Again rupturing the ontological question of race Sefa Dei (2011) not
only affirm the reality of race but stresses its saliency. This apparently is because discourses of racial realism
project race as real not because of any biological essences but because it has material, political, emotional,
symbolic and practical consequences, which is bolstered by the effects of its social and political ramifications.
Although race has featured tremendously in certain social representations, it is incapacitated without such co-
lonial tools as repression or outright erasure of most of the heritages of the colonized for instance history and
language. Also tools of cultural encapsulation which includes subversion of religion healthcare and processes of
knowledge creation and dissemination through neo-colonial projects are massively deployed resulting in erasure
of individual humanity of the racialized bodies. Anti-racism starts with acknowledging the self as an important
entry point, for according to Dei (2011), if there is one thing that cannot be appropriated from the subject it is
the body; and with it the subject’s intellectual agency, for instance, the agency of the colonized, racialized, op-
pressed and minoritized. In other words, while “embodiment” is about the particular experiencing of the body
and how it is acted upon in a given socio-historical and geo-political context, the notion of embodied knowing is
about coming to know, which remains a perspective that can be attained by developing an attachment or a par-
ticular connection to knowledge. To the culturally, economically, politically displaced young Africans, the
knowledge of the privileges of whiteness that was etched into their medulla oblongata by the repressed trauma
of colonization and neo-colonial subjugations need a vent. The scorching heat of Sahara and the boiling waters
of Mediterranean weighed together against the trauma of loss of ones humanity becomes as much a child’s play
that these youth remain undeterred to reach Europe even by the threats of death.
5. Border as a Marker of Identity and Site for Contestation of Citizenship
Revisiting North American border restrictions, Browne’s (2007) work shows how the identification and classi-
fication achieved through the Canadian Permanent Resident Card, PRC help to shape individual and collective
imaginings about citizenship and belonging to the Canadian nation. The work engages post-structuralism in
making sense of and detestation to Canadian PRC as a signifierof authentic subject and citizenship, which
Browne describes as both positivist in view and essentialism in practice (Browne, 2007: p. 34; Belsey, 2002: p.
M. O. Nwalutu
88
15). Browne recalls the case of Brandon Mayfield to argue against the assumption of infallible objectivist bio-
metric technologies. This implies that the state’s assumption that the PRC and surveillance technologies encode
infallible truthabout its subjects through which to identify and differentiate people is brought to question, for
post-structural theorizing encourages deep suspicion of universal claims of singular truth (Rosenburg, 2004: p.
36). Browne’s (2007) contribution to the debate on transnational border policing and racialization with reference
to the migrant Other’s subjectification is relevant to my paper due to its portrayal of the power dynamics of the
Canadian state in relation to its constituted subjects (foreigners applying for PRC). But she seems to have done a
meta-narrative of Canadian PRC intervention in which the states of Canada and US, and their private/public al-
lied corporations without restraint; and with preconceived notions of who becomes the trusted travelerand/or
the illegal migrants, constructed the positive and negative spaces into which each of these categories must fit. I
regret to frown at Browne’s view of the Canadian PRC as a marker of identity, and hope to differ by asking if it
was possible for the PRC to create double tiers of citizens in Canadareal and imagined citizenseach distin-
guishable by skin color or the extent to which certain recognition and privileges are bequeathed notwithstanding
possession of valid identities for citizenship.
Browne’s posture resonates with Sharma (2005), which invokes and troubles the unlimited sphere of the he-
gemonic influence of the Canadian state over its subjects. Border policing is exerted through territorial border
surveillance and issues of national identification are not just for those constituted as citizens through the posses-
sion of citizenship status, rather it is even more critical for people constructed as the nation’s Other or aliens,
who inhabit spaces controlled by the Canadian state. Examining Canadian national policies on immigration,
Sharma reasons that: “identifying oneself through the reference to the ‘Canadian nation’ works to secure legiti-
macy for the subordination of people who are legally and socially made into ‘foreigners’ or non-Canadians in
Canada” (p. 9). Considering the line of argument towed by Browne (2007) and Sharma (2005) the question re-
mains whether the migrant subjects themselves in any way contribute in the process of subjectification they face
at Canadian/US border? A divergent view emerges however. Goldin, Cameron and Balarajan (2011) paradoxi-
cally designed a non-polarized world, a power-balanced model through which to advance their notions of two
factors compelling receiving states to securitize and control their territorial borders. The work argues that con-
cerns about globalization and terror are the major developments compelling the immigrant receiving economies
to restrict their borders. According to Goldin, Cameron and Balarajan’s work, “accelerating globalization, which
has been accompanied by intensifying global competitiveness and a “war for talent” to attract migrants that can
feed innovation and economic growth” (p. 153). The atmosphere prevalent in the world constructed in the work
of Goldin, Cameron and Balarajan is inconsistent with the reality of a polarized world in which the industria-
lized North, that is, the colonizers detect who migrates, and to where? The South as is apparent from the narra-
tive is constructed not as part of the competitors in the global political and socio-economic theatre (except as a
supplier of terrorism) and as involuntary supplier of undesired talents and raw materials; a justification therefore
for the North to securitize its borders against the unwanted vagabond. The question my paper continues to ad-
vance in this neo-colonial, and neo-liberal rhetoric that symbolized a regurgitation of justification for coloniza-
tion is, has the Southern states equal opportunities to gatekeeping and border surveillance as the West? Why do
Northern nations always violate their border security policies when it comes to conscripting Southern elites to
work in the North? How might we begin to understand the invasion of Southern border spaces by Northern
states and alliances during military involvements? Only a deviation from the paradigm insinuated in Goldin,
Cameron and Balarajan’s work would clearly point to the lopsided power imbalance in the NorthSouth border
control and surveillance systems.
Shea (2012) explores the importance of non-status immigrants in the conceptions and operations of citizen-
ship in Canada. Her work is invaluable to my paper for underscoring the significant role non-status migrants
play in the construction of Canadian citizenship. The major contribution of Shea’s work to the discourse on
non-status immigrants is its argument that further perpetuation of immigrantssubjugation happen when activist
groups, during their advocacy, in a bid to obtain assistance from state, become obsequious to state’s ideologies,
policies and plans. She argues that such ambivalent disposition or duplicity of function weakens even the most
radical arms of non-status activism, as their activities reproduce the socio-political oppression they seek to re-
dress. In a similar work Nyers (2010) studies the active socio-political engagements of groups of non-status mi-
grants and refugees to uncover how their operations challenge government’s established models on citizenship,
and membership of the social community. In a view divergent to the popular representations of refugees and
non-status migrants as passive players in the border politicking, Nyers’ work made reference to irregular mi-
M. O. Nwalutu
89
grants’ activism in Australia, Canada, and Egypt and it reasons that: “migrants with precarious status are
emerging as key protagonists in global struggles concerning freedom of movement, social recognition, worker
protections, and the right of asylum” (p. 127). To further buttress this point, the government of Canada allows
entry to refugees. “A convention refugee and person in need of protection are people who are unable, or by rea-
son of their fear, unwilling to be protected by their country of origin” (Immigration and Refugee Board of Can-
ada, Interpreters Training Manual 2010, p. 7). This definition implies a power relation in which the immigrant is
neither hapless nor helpless as Browne (2007) depicts. Highlighting the urgent need for an extended intellectual
and political debate on world without borders”, Anderson, Sharma, and Wright’s (2009) work, which is con-
sistent with Jonathan Moses’ (2006) earlier argument for a world without border, insists that:
“…the simultaneous process of granting more freedom to capital and less to migrants is far from a contra-
diction and is in fact a crucial underpinning of global capitalism and the equally global system of national
states. The growing restriction on the freedom of people to move has not led to fewer people crossing na-
tionalized borders. Exactly the opposite: today more people are doing exactly this than ever before (Ander-
son, Sharma, and Wright, 2009, p. 5).
It is critical to observe at this juncture that the methodology in Browne’s (2007) work early cited, which en-
gages an analysis of few print-media reports on the experiences of PRC subjects instead of using survey and/or
ethnographic interview is what I found to be a bit of methodological, or more specifically instrument problem.
By so doing she invisibilizes the subjectsand therefore not only trivializes the illegal immigrants’ identities,
but reproduces an imbalance in power structure between herself, the author and even the categories of immigrant
subjects her work is set to advocate for. Objectivity, Rosenburg (2004) warns, is only assumed from the pers-
pective of the privileged (p. 41). The questions I raise here are: who own these newspapers? Whose interests and
policies are those print media’s news coverage on experiences of the trustedtravelers and “risky” aliens re-
flecting? The answer is of course, the neoliberal state and capitalist public. Could these media biased by total
absence of proximity to its subjects have been a reliable source of immigrant experiences as the author assumed?
If not, what then is the justification for the choice of secondary source instead of primary source that interview
could have provided? Browne (2007) nevertheless, successfully exemplified the complexities of identity com-
modification as strategized through transnational border surveillance, militarism and commercialization of risk
management which I think finds relevance in the prescriptions of neoliberal ideologies of autonomous self, bu-
reaucratization, responsibilization and market oriented strategizing (Davies, 2006). However in Browne (2007)
individual subjects or travelers are constructed as passive recipients and victims of state-control apparatuses in a
neo-liberal regime. Judith Butler asserts that subjection is the subordination brought on itself by the subject
which is a precondition for agency (cited in Davies, 2006). Although I will look at these subjects through Fou-
cauldian lenses in which subjects are seen as desirous of freedom, this means the subject submitting to sub-
ject-hood or becoming “a good disciplinary subject” (see: Davies, 2006: p. 426; Belsey, 2002: p. 71). Yet as
power imbalance always produces resistance, the surveillance, disciplinary and border control technologies must
be and has been resisted by those dubbed illegitimate non-trusted travelers too, for in Foucauldian perspective,
even the disciplinary subject is capable of resistance. I will further reason that the Canadian PRC and events of
its assignment, while part of the bureaucratic governance of permanent residents, which is a demographic seg-
ment of Canadian population; also produces the monitored and controlled Canadian citizen as an effect be-
cause once at the border, the citizens would pass through the same border screening processes as do the im-
migrants until the system certified them to be ‘bona fide citizens’. As Scott (1991) notes “Being a subject
means being subjected to definite conditions of existence, conditions of endowment of agents and conditions
of exercise” (p. 793). This brings me to the notion of responsibilization which pervades the era of globaliza-
tion. Here individual subjects are required by the state to be only responsible to self and shed responsibility
for others, but actively participate in surveillance and control (Davies, 2006). And as Foucauldian subject
becomes a good disciplinary subject, it is capable of resistance and by engaging in such, it emerges in
freedom (Brown, 1993: p. 397). But the freedom accruable to the citizenship conferees who are not Whites
or privileged bodies must be contested at international borders. For instance two Canadian citizens on inter-
national trip from the same organization, one, an European-Canadian and the other an African-Canadian ar-
rived at a Toronto airport. The latter was held for some more scrutiny of his Canadian passport while the
former worked through hitch-free.
M. O. Nwalutu
90
6. Border Gatekeeping and the Migrant Other: Intersections of Gender, Race,
Disability and Legal Status in the Context of Youth Migration
It is important to explore the influence of race, gender, disability and legal status on the flow and experiences of
the 21st century transnational migrant subjects. Valiani (2012) draws from scholarly writings on gender and mi-
gration to accentuate the pattern of feminization of migration flow over the past five to ten years which she trac-
es to four phenomenal shift in global socio-economic structures to include: improved statistical visibility of
women as migrants, increasing participation of women in most migration streams, growing unemployment
among men in migrant-sending countries, and increasing demand for labor in feminized sectors in migrant-re-
ceiving countries (Valiani, 2012). The opinion of this paper is that more than anything else, the changes imposed
by colonial subjugation and hegemonic control of the socio-cultural norms, values and mores in developing
countries, has greater impact on the gender constituents of migrating categories. It is also the view of my paper
that the effects of colonization on mostly Indigenous societies of the South tended to subvert and modify gender
roles in these economies (see: Nwalutu, 2004, 2014), which might account for the increased recognition of
women’s roles in the flow of international migration. In fact, DeLaet (1999) observes that of other gender cate-
gories, women constitute the largest number of the world refugees, and Kelson (1999) similarly reasons that
about half of the immigrants conferred with permanent resident status in the US between 1983 and 1993 were
females. This apparently suggests increasing involvement of women in the 21st century transnational migration,
for which Kelson reasons that it was no longer safe to overlook the impact of transnational migration on female
migrants. Drawing on figures projected in the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs,
DESA (2006) indicating that female international migrants constitute almost fifty per cent of all migrants in the
year 2005, as compared to forty seven per cent in 1960. Valiani’s (2012) work elaborates on the complicit activi-
ties of some migrants’ states of origin in the preparation and export of labor to receiving countries (mostly to
Western economies) as alternative means for financing their foreign exchange deficit. She cites the case of the
Philippines’ state policies in establishing the country as the leading international exporter of labor. By challeng-
ing the popular Push and Pull explanations, Valiani corroborates Adepoju (1993), which underscores the role of
structural adjustment programs of the 1980s as giving rise to low wage employment, and in turn, labor migration.
She stresses that:
It is the historically-entrenched structure of the Philippines state which is underlined here. It is argued that
the Philippines state embarked upon a labor export policy, from the early 1970s due to contradictions aris-
ing from trade relations shaped under colonialism, severely unequal land distribution, and weighty US
American political influence (Valiani, 2012: p. 114).
While her work is consistent with the arguments of Adepoju (1993), Sassen (1988) and Amy Chua (2003)
respecting the role of the West in the formation of Southern migrant subjects, and the flow of labor from devel-
oping countries to the Western industrial capitals, it falls short of revealing how the potential South-North Phil-
ippines migrant subject (for instance) are complicit to their immigration experiences. Also it has little or nothing
pointing to the demographic constituents of the migrant women population. Apparently, Valiani (2012) sub-
sumes the other migrant categories such as the independent youth migrants, migrants with disabilities and the
unaccompanied minors under adult migrant population. It is only by separating these demographic categories
that we would earnestly begin to address the insidious strains in the experiences of youth transnational migrants.
In her critical message to activist groups advocating for female migrants held by the Canadian Border Agency,
Sharma (2005) reacts:
“The women and childrenbut significantly never the menamong these particular migrants were labeled
as “victims of trafficking” at various times by some feminists advocating for them as well as by then Mi-
nister of Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Elinor Caplan. The fact that they arrived on rusty, unsafe
boats after a long, harrowing trip made this seem like common sense. After all, who would voluntarily em-
bark on such a dangerous journey without being forced? Failing to regard the fact that male migrants also
traveled under these same conditions, those feminists employing the conceptual frame of trafficking tried to
shift the representation of the women migrants as a danger and a threat to one where they would be seen as
victims (p. 93).
Attention to the victims of contemporary migration and border restriction policies parochially are focused
M. O. Nwalutu
91
largely on female and children, understandably so. But overlooking the various subcategories of individuals
constituting the migrant population invisibilizes the excluded bodies and minimizes the rationality of modifying
existing policies to improve their migration experiences. It is crucial to point out that as attention is devoted to
fighting human trafficking in current transnational migration, especially as it affects human flow from the de-
veloping South to the industrialized North, scholars should endeavor to sift through the mesh of efforts of a large
number of indigent voluntary migrants who use any available opportunity of escape to transit to their destina-
tions. The wide speculation about existing trafficking syndicates lurking to prey on passive individuals, or dis-
suade the citizens to become trafficked migrants begs urgent reexamination. Understanding the thought process
of intending migrants and their determination to reach their goals at all cost might bring about a shift in the view
of migration scholars, and chart a new trajectory, implying possible modification of existing policies for effec-
tive handling of the burgeoning cases of young adults’ migration. Gould (2011) reaffirms that:
…the current law enforcementresponse to trafficking is unlikely to lead to a reduction in the prevalence
of trafficking. Indeed, as several authors point out, making it more difficult for economic migrants, particu-
larly women, to cross borders is more likely to lead to [them] relying on unscrupulous third parties for as-
sistance (p. 47).
Inference from Gould and other contributors in this review, show that the focus of most arguments is on the
vulnerability of migrants, or on supposedly vulnerable migrants. Realistically however, migrant individuals, ir-
respective of their social category, become the more infantilized, and reduced to passive irrational victims of the
prowling transnational migration syndicates, which hardly is the case because migrants are rational, active par-
ticipants in the entire process of transnational migration. In addition, a little or nothing is yet done to contextual-
ize the transnational border crossing experiences of migrants who are also living with one disability or the other,
by this I do not mean persons who sustained disabling injuries in their migration process, but those living with
disabilities in their countries of origin who also felt the drive to migrate to Oversea countries for temporary or
permanent stay. Until conversations on migration are broadened to encompass various categories of migrants,
and the interlocking chains and processes of events that generate their lived experiences, full knowledge of the
global migrant subjects would remain mere conjectures. This perspective of reasoning emanates from the under-
standing that terminologies and categories matter so much in the perception, considerations and interventions
migrants receive at the border and within host society, as spelt out in the International Maritime and Refugee
laws respectively, Melissa Phillips argues:
Assuming that all people have the same reason for leaving their homes and getting onto boats, that all people
rescued at sea are migrants and that there is a one size fits all policy response misrecognises the heterogeneity
of this group. Such heterogeneity includes country of origin, gender, age, (race and ability, addition, mine)
and family make up including pre-existing links to Europe (Phillips, 2014).
Many youth migrants are actually situated in the intersections, and often at the margins of these categories
outlined by Phillips. Also clarifying between categories enable scholars aspire for a nuanced narrative of indi-
vidual migrants as more authentic account, and epistemic saliency (lived experience) of the migrant subjects in
question. This is in opposition to the hyped-up narratives of the media that often generate unbalanced and there-
fore unfair public opinion (and of course policies) that negatively affect migrant individuals in their host envi-
ronments. A clear understanding of the demographic constituents of migrant population involved in Africa
Europe migration and critical information about their cross-border ordeals will expose how all categories of
subjects are labeled together and subsumed under one title: “Boat people” (see: Pisani, 2012; Phillips, 2014;
Frenzen, 2014; Sunderland, 2012) at the receiving societies, which also permits of no distinction in terms of how
vulnerable individuals such as minors (children), women and migrants with disabilities are subjected to policy
restrictions at the border.
Through unbiased investigations (and understanding) of migrants lived experiences we might expose the
drain youth emigration constitutes to the developing countries they are leaving behind; the structural and
socio-economic problems they encounter at the host societies and the impending consequences for all
stakeholders. Often voluntary migrant individuals, especially those from developing economies are under-
valorized as victims of peddling cartels or trafficking syndicates (see also Sharma, 2005b; Valiani, 2012;
Falola & Afolabi, 2007), which provokes serious thought on the Western imagining of racialized migrant
M. O. Nwalutu
92
bodies. Migrant individuals are demeaned, prejudicially criminalized, invisiblized and therefore, depicted
as devoid of reasons, illiterates, and uncivilized (Sharma, 2005a), hence must be spoken for. It is within this
context that often duplicitous activists in host societies connive with their domestic governments to be car-
rying out anti-immigrant campaign while pretending to be advocating for the non-status immigrants. The
ambivalences depicted above might have led social science and migration scholars to portray migrants as
devoid of agencybeing victims of their own state architectureand those of Western neo-colonial prop-
agation (see: Valiani, 2012). In the work of Valiani specifically, the question would then be: how has her
argument, as plausible as it is, positioned the agency of the transnational migrant individual? Sharma
(2005b) examines the past and existing discourses and praxis of anti-trafficking campaigns in Canada and
argues that these campaigns in the context of global North, which frequently are organized by feminist ac-
tivist and other NGOs, are anything but initiatives in favor or moral considerations of migrant individuals.
They are rather the modified organs of anti-immigrant debates and policies that are aimed at the Othered
migrant bodies. Sharma couldn’t see any distinction between these campaigns and the previous attempts
that were mere collusions with the government-sponsored transnational securitization and surveillance
schema intended to criminalize voluntary independent migrants from the South. Yet at the same time,
transnational Northern migrants to the South for whatever purpose or intentionleisure-seeking; equipped
to research and speak for speechless Southern folks; or on exploitative mission of their home govern-
mentsare reified as heroes and heroines of salvation. I would argue therefore that dubbing border-cross-
ing migrantswhose demographic categories are often a mixture of different gender, age, ability and race,
victims of human-traffickinginvisibilizes and dehumanizes them and denies them of any iota of agency
and self-determination as individuals. Nonetheless they are not without agency, if we consider Fanon’s
(1952) argument on affective cost of imposition of domination on the colonized bodies. A traumatic
re-experiencing of self, results in loss of a person’s humanity as an individual; then a psychological
re-adjustment of disposition towards the colonizer, his source of trauma. Fanon stresses: “The problem of
colonization therefore comprises not only the intersection of historical and objective conditions but also
man’s attitude towards these conditions” (p. 65). In fact, a deconstruction of Valiani’s (2012) work on the
roles of the Philippines state in the citizens’ transnational mobility would show how acquisition of Western
education and training repositions the citizens to perceive the Indigenous Philippines’ traditions and envi-
ronment in the spectacles of the West (Appadurai, 1996) and by themselves nursed and executed the desire
to migrate to the Americas. The Philippines migrants were therefore neither devoid of agency nor at any
rate to be considered victims of their state’s capitalist motives, nor are they victims of migration syndicates
or organized criminal gangs. In Sharma’s (2005a) contribution, men, women, youth and children migrants
who arrived in Canadian territorial water were detained by the Canadian Coast Guards along Vancouver
coast, but only the women were spoken for as victims of migration syndicates. If the conditions of their ar-
rival, mode of flight (type of transport used) and apparent disclosures attested to their bids to escape from
unsafe domestic environment, they were active players in their migratory experience and should have been
considered as such. Were the male migrants deportees yet another victims of racialized border surveillance
systems targeted by the state apparatuses to screen off the “untrusted travelers(Browne, 2007) while the
detained and accepted few female folks served as tokenization to placate the wrath of critics of Western se-
gregated borders? The position of my paper again is that the men and youth in the boat who were detained and
subsequently deported to their purportedly hostile countries (just as their female folks) should have been re-
ceived as active asylum and refugee claimants (not as victims of human traffickers) like their female folks.
Sharma’s view resonates with the position of this work that it is the cognizance of the agency of individual
migrants as active players in their migratory efforts that would reveal the disruptive roles of global system
of capitalist expansion. This awareness would expose how the deliberate disruption of peoples’ indigenous
socio-economic structures by the colonizing world has shaped and continues to shape the current face of
forced-mobility of the Southern migrants who are harvested as surplus labor in the industrialized North.
7. African Migrant Youth and the EU Border Fortification in the Light of Global
Policies
Africa migrant youth engaging on a sea travel to Europe either in search of better lifeor escaping from war
and persecution from their countries of origin use any of the varying land and sea routes trans-Sahara via:
Libya, Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco, Algeria across the Mediterranean Sea to the Island of Malta or Lampe-
M. O. Nwalutu
93
duza, Italy. They also travel through Spain’s Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean or via the Strait of Gibraltar.
It is estimated that a total of 58000 migrants arrived in Europe in 2011 (Human Rights Watch, 2012). So long
as these trips are not regularized (not embarked on with proper traveling documents), they fall under emer-
gency situations created by human-made or natural disasters, and therefore are altogether a risky experience.
According to Sunderland (2012):
Some of those attempting by land and airthe vast majority of irregular entries into Europetake con-
siderable risks: hiding in and under trucks, stuffed into car trunks, crammed into containers where lack of
air, food and water have claimed hundreds of lives. Discover en route or at the border can mean mi-
streatment at the hands of smugglers, unwilling transporters (e.g. truck drivers), and border guards; de-
tention or summary return to a country of transit or country of origin, or as Human Rights Watch, has
documented, being dumped in the desert along remote stretches of North African borders and left to die
(p. 3).
The coastal European countries of first ports of entry includes: Malta, Greece, Italy and Spain and these have
on continuous basis, and in a bid to circumscribe all efforts of migrants from Africa to reach European shores,
maintained cooperation deals with countries of departure in Africa. Joint surveillance is imposed on developing
economies of Africa with EUs technical, financial and persuasive power for border migrants’ restriction (Fren-
zen, 2014; Sunderland, 2012). The EU border agency received an express injunction in 2011 to respect Interna-
tional Human Rights laws and support sea rescue efforts while carrying out its functions (2012). But this injunc-
tion goes against the grain of Frontex’ original mandate of which priority of operation is to prevent migrant
boats from landing on EU member states territorial waters. This objective has often been carried out to the let-
ters, preventing migrants from accessing rights applicable within the EU territories.
8. EUROSUR as a Double Fortification
The European parliament and European Council met and operationalized a draft to establish a new fortification
based on distance surveillance with advanced technologies. EUROSUR was formed to inter alia, use technolo-
gical devices such as satellite imagery and drones to monitor the Mediterranean Sea and North African coasts.
Exception were made to the effect that the draft should pay priority attention to EU member states, persons in
distress at sea, children, asylum seekers and victims of human trafficking, as well as person(s) in need of medi-
cal attention. All these are in line with the UN provision to safeguard human rights at the international waters
(Frenzen, 2014; Newland, 2003; Phillips, 2014). In an analysis of EU Regulations for FRONTEX, coordinated
surveillance of external sea borders was foremost in agenda, and the priority was aimed at enhancing protection
(at least in writing) of migrants who must be intercepted or rescued. Interestingly, such a cogent and extremely
critical document permits many obvious loopholes that enable state agencies of EU and its member states wash
their hands off any blames when migrants related tragedies occur on EU territorial waters or areas within its ju-
risdiction. One of such loopholes is that the regulation was silent respecting the circumstances migrants inter-
ception occurred in territorial waters of a third state (non-member state of EU). This raises concern over
push-back. It has been observed for instance, that prior to Libyan revolution, Italy extended its borders to Libyan
coasts by proxy. This means it was patrolling Libyan coasts with the sole aim of intercepting and disembarking
migrant boast carrying Africans, since Libya is one of the coasts of departure for migrants from Africa (Frenzen,
2014; Newland, 2003). In 2009, Italy intercepted migrant boats with individuals in distress over Italian coast ter-
ritorial waters, and instead of rescuing them, deported all the occupants back to Libya, not considerate of the
implication of such a drastic action for the various category of migrants on board the boat (Frenzen, 2014; Sun-
derland, 2012). This push-back strategy did not forestall the trip of subsequent migrant boats, but it further
raised the death toll of hapless African migrants including women and children.
The regulation also prescribed that boats intercepted in the territorial sea or contiguous zone of any EU mem-
ber state should be disembarked in same territory. This specific regulation provided a condition that allows au-
thorities to still order an alteration of course of migrant boats that have made it thus far. This action is in flagrant
violation of not just the fundamental right of the migrants but the International Refugee laws and International
Maritime laws that demand that EU member states should under the circumstance discussed above, use all
available means to identify intercepted persons so as to afford migrants opportunity to assert a non-refoulement
claim (Sunderland, 2012). The aggressively heightened anti-immigrant operations of FRONTEX beyond EU
territories informed a paradox that requires closer detailsfor at the auspices of FRONTEX many more mi-
M. O. Nwalutu
94
grants death were recorded in the Mediterranean Sea (Sunderland, 2012). For instance, during the 2011 Libyan
revolution that ousted Col. Gadhafi, FRONTEX sent its joint operations consisting of ships and aerial surveil-
lance to Libya as back-up for Italy in order to frustrate influx of migrants from Africa. The North Atlantic Trea-
ty Organization, NATO also deployed 21 ships at the Mediterranean as a tactical bid to foil arms supply to
Gadhafi regime (Sunderland, 2012). The intensification of Libyan crisis, expectedly, drove an ethnically
mixed-multitude of immigrants in Libya to the sea. These ethnically mixed groups of immigrants were escaping
the onslaught of the Libyan dictator, Gadhafi but the incident that follows would begin to unsettle the humanita-
rian angle of EU’s, NATO’s, UNHCR’s and IOM’s operations on the Mediterranean Sea. While dallying over
whose responsibility it was to rescue the boat conveying a batch of migrants out of Libya, the West watched 63
of them including 20 women and 2 babies die in the infamous “left to die” case:
One particular event, reported by the international press, provoked widespread public outrage. In the case
of what is now referred to as the “left-to-die boat”, 72 migrants fleeing Tripoli by boat on the early morning
of March 27 2011 ran out of fuel and were left to drift for 14 days until they landed back on the Libyan
coast. With no water or food on-board, only nine of the migrants survived. In several interviews, these sur-
vivors recounted the various points of contacts they had with the external world during this ordeal. This in-
cluded describing the aircraft that flew over them, the distress call they sent out via satellite telephone and
their visual sightings of a military helicopter which provided a few packets of biscuits and bottles of water
and a military ship which failed to provide any assistance whatsoever. The events, as recounted by these
survivors, appeared to constitute a severe violation of the legal obligation to provide assistance to any per-
son in distress at sea, an obligation sanctioned by several international conventions (Heller, Pezzani and
Situ Studio, 2012: p. 9; Strik, 2012).
This case accentuates the paradoxical outcome of deceptive propagation of international ordersit is a viola-
tion, legal and binding when and only when racialized and marginalized bodies of developing economyare not
the victims. According to sources, the small boat ferrying these migrants out of Libya ran out of fuel and sup-
plies. One of the passengers used a cell phone to communicate an Eritrean priest in Rome who alerted the Coast
Guards and NATO Headquarters in Italy. The 1979 International Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue
(SAR Convention) enjoins governments and all stakeholders to: “... ensure that assistance be provided to any
person in distress at sea... regardless of the nationality or status of such a person or the circumstances in which
that person is found” (ICMSAR, Chapter 2.1.10). The 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea
(UNCLOS, Art. 98: 2) also passes a responsibility on every coastal state party to: “...promote the establishment,
operation and maintenance of an adequate and effective search and rescue service regarding safety on and over
the sea and, where circumstances so require, by way of mutual regional arrangements co-operate with neigh-
bouring States for this purpose”. (Heller, Pezzani and Situ Studio, 2012: p. 10). Nevertheless, the Italian authori-
ties, and NATO military helicopters and warships came in contact with the boat and offered them no meaningful
help. The boat drifted for 14 days on Mediterranean and was pulled back to Libyan coast by a strong current. On
arrival the ill-equipped migrants have lost 61 people. Only 9 survived and one later died in Libyan jail. While
some differences between oral testimonies occur on specific points and while there are some instances in which
more data would have been desirable, overall a coherent picture emerges from the synthesis of these disparate
bodies of information, a picture that demonstrates how the migrants were led to a slow death despite repeated
contacts with several parties. An abbreviated summary of key events is outlined as follows (Heller, Pezzani and
Situ Studio, 2012: p. 10).
This travesty of humanitarian work quickly strikes a chord with the apparently tactless, astute but revealing
response of Mr. Valeri Artemienko during the court case in 1992, in France, indicting him and his crew for
murdering 8 African young migrant stowaways. Artemienko, now in life jail mumbled out to the embarrassment
of the duplicitous Europe: “Europe will thank us for what we did” (Davies, 1995). It was the testimony of
Ukrainian sea Captain, Alexander Vinniski that exposes part of the reality or the dilemma of European policies
that impelled the crew to the murderous rage:
The terrible thing about this situation,” he said, “is that this crew went to the other side of the world and
met people who were just as unhappy, people who were just as anxious to find a better life. They were
afraid they would lose their jobs if anyone discovered the stowaways (Davies, 1995).
It might sound worrisome that ship stowaway was the most accessible opportunity irregular migrants made
M. O. Nwalutu
95
use of to the extent that in1999 alone, Britain witnessed a record high 54,000 stowaways in Sea Ports and Air-
ports, so it is likely that the 8 murdered young men were not the only stowaway migrants killed in similar hor-
rific encounters. The question is who actually should be held responsible for incidents like this and many more
that go unnoticed?
9. Aggressive Border Restrictions and Shifting Responsibilities: They Must Arrive
Dead or Be Sent Back
Towards the end of 2012, Italian authorities disputed the account of about 56 survivors who claimed that the
boat conveying them from Tunisia capsized near Lampeduza. The authorities believed differently, they reasoned
that since there were no floating bodies or debris from the boat, the migrants could have been dumped at Lam-
pione by human traffickers who shortly returned to Tunisia. They insisted that two bodies recovered within the
same period were from a different mishap location (Frenzen, 2014). The invisiblization of the agency of mi-
grants as active participants in migration process raises more questions about the expectations of the EU authori-
ties for the intercepted migrants, and who is really responsible for the tragic incidents sequel to increasing mili-
tarization of EU sea borders. In an interview with the FRONTEX Director, Ilkka Laitinen in 2013, the
FRONTEX boss made yet a startling disclosure in response to a question about accountability of his Agency in
occasions of flagrant migrants’ right violation resulting in bodily harm or death. He argues that Frontex is of the
opinion that the operation and any potential human rights violation are actually the responsibility of the member
states; not FRONTEX (Frenzen, 2014). I will continue to assert in this work that in the context of human rights
and fundamental rights of migrants, much of the so called provisions and conventions of international regulatory
bodies are carrot and stick apparatuses; a neo-colonial tool in the hand of the dominant North against the devel-
oping South, since their provisions do not apply equally to citizens of both the industrialized countries and their
racialized and marginalized Other. Regional agencies and military organizations such as FRONTEX, NATO and
other NGOs in the EU member states are not under any supervisory authority that would compel their com-
pliance with international regulations. For instance, in the case cited earlier involving the death of 62 African
migrants, Spain, the United States, Italy, and the United Kingdom discretely refused to render accounts to the
EU and UN inquest, about their military engagements in the Mediterranean Sea during the tragedy. The parlia-
mentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), condescended to request further investigation into the in-
cident, but that was not heeded also.
10. Discussion
The number of Vietnamese refugees taking to the South China Sea during the country’s civil war was enormous.
Many of them, like some African migrants today crammed into non-sea worthy boats to escape the onslaught of
war. Many merchant ships that came in contact offered to rescue the migrants, and according to the international
maritime rule, they must also disembark them at the nearest country. Malaysia and Thailand felt so over-
whelmed that they refused to receive them into their territories, so the ship owners who observed the rescue at
sea conventioninvoluntarily had to bear the cost of rescuing the migrants (Newland, 2003). I would at this
juncture reflect on what happened to Ukrainian sailors who murdered African stowaway youth. As Nick Davies
insists, “these murders were committed as a direct and predictable result of laws that have been passed and
blessed by France and Britain and almost every other government in the European Union” (Davies, 1995). It is a
justified deduction then to argue that the killer-crew acted under the pressure of European Union to violently de-
stroy the lives of those they constructed as aliens, deviants and law breakers. It is an intractable puzzle though, if
the crew could have acted differently, were the murdered eight young men European stowaways, and this re-
mains a point of cogitation and sober reflection. The EU carrier-liability law with a fine of £75.7 million (Davies,
1995), which aims to cripple the fiscal base of ship owners caught wittingly or otherwise, conveying irregular
migrants to Europe, thus became the death warrant for crews to cast overboard any irregular migrant they dis-
cover in their vessel. In 1985 the United Nations High Commission for Refugees was moved by instances such
as the Vietnamese refugees case to put in place a number of emergency measures, which included providing to
reimburse owners of vessels for cost incurred during sea-rescue exercise. The UNHCR provision also includes,
to publicly commend the gestures of sea-farers who rescue migrants (Sunderland, 2012). The tradition of sea
faring has similar outstanding codes of which is to respond to migrants’ distress calls (see Strik, 2012; Interna-
M. O. Nwalutu
96
tional Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1974). Countries like the United States, Australia, Britain and
Germany might actually press charges against any crew that failed to respond to distress call at sea (Newland,
2003; Phillips, 2014). Presently the codes are contained in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, 1982, and
International Maritime Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue, 1979. In any of these conventions the crew
is enjoined to render assistance without prejudice against migrants’ ethnicity, profession, nationality status or
circumstances of the distressed individual (Phillips, 2014). The difficulty in this code of conduct is the impera-
tive that the rescued person(s) must be disembarked at a safe location for the rescue to be considered complete,
and it must be to the nearest location to the point of distress. The danger of this segment of the code of conduct
at the international waters is that when a Refugee is among the rescued individuals, such a person, also by the
provision of international law, must not be returned forcefully to a country her/his life or freedom would be in
jeopardy. It could be inferred from the 1951 Convention on Refugees that no country in realityincluding those
that acceded to the conventionis under obligation to accept refugees.
11. Conflating Transnational Laws at the Peril of African Migrant Youth
The area of interest at this juncture is the conflicting intersection between domestic policies and maritime laws
of the receiving states and international refugee law. Ship crews are under obligation to rescue sea migrants who
run into distressful conditions, but they also have to transfer the rescued individuals to the nearest safe haven to
save cost for themselves as well as in compliance with the provisions of the laws. But no state is obliged to ac-
cept rescued persons because if there are refugees among the rescued individuals, the host country might be vi-
olating the law by repatriating them to their countries of origin. Australian and Italian naval vessels have been
accused in the resent times of watching migrants die at sea and countries like USA, France, Italy and Australia
have not only intercepted and repatriated migrant boats intending to dock in their territories but diverted them to
different locations to disembark, as a deterrence to impending irregular migrants (see Newland, 2003). The
question however is, has there been reduction in cases of migration into European borders via the sea or more
specifically, are we foreseeing any reduction in the flow of migration of African youth to Europe? The view of
this paper is that the root cause of youth migration must be addressed if the phenomenon would be minimized or
eradicated. Tackling youth migration would not be achieved by the existing policies and practices of border re-
striction and migrant management as is presently the case. The various states of origin (developing or industria-
lized) must be involved in the study geared towards understanding the drives of youth migration, bearing in
mind that one size fits all strategy might not always work particularly when it comes to youth migration. Besides,
the understanding that migrants are either political or economic refugees, which led Bjarnesen (2014) to reason
that labor migrants and refugees are intertwined also brought about the notion of mixed migration. But as Phil-
lips (2014) argues, migration evokes a polarized atmosphere of competition between immigrants and the citizens
of a host country. Meaning that, among mixed migrants in a rescued boat, refugees and asylum seekers would be
predisposed to receive more empathy from the citizens than do economic immigrants. For migration stakehold-
ers and policy makers, there is however need to tease out distinct categories of youth migrants so as to properly
analyze, and make provisions that might be tailored to and expedient for each group’s needs.
12. Conclusion
The challenges inherent in the intersection of international laws and codes of practices with respect to the opera-
tion of EU state’s border officials towards migrant individuals, especially migrant African youth, is actually a
statement about the state’s commitment and compliance to its obligation and to the tenets of universal human
rights law. EU member states’ adoption of criminal laws that stipulate offences solely to check and restrain mi-
grants is in itself a major contradiction and challenge for the international human rights laws that permits of no
discrimination of individuals based on gender, nationality or status. It apparently becomes even more conflicting
when one segment of the law permits nationals of a state to enter or leave its territories while foreign migrants
are by another segment of the same law forbidden movement across the nation’s borders. Besides, a clear under-
standing of the demographic constituents of migrant population involved in AfricaEurope migration and criti-
cal information about their cross-border ordeals will expose how all categories of subjects are labeled together
and subsumed under one title: “Boat people” or clandestineat the receiving societies, which also permits of no
distinction in terms of how vulnerable individuals such as minors (children), women and migrants with disabili-
M. O. Nwalutu
97
ties are subjected to policy restrictions at the border. Finally, indications are that most of the attention paid to the
victims of contemporary migration and border restriction policies are narrowly focused on female and children.
But overlooking the various subcategories of individuals constituting the migrant population invisibilizes the
excluded bodies; minimizes the rationality and forecloses the possibility of modifying existing policies to im-
prove their migration experiences. It is crucial to point out that as attention is devoted to fighting human traf-
ficking in current transnational migration, especially as it affects human flow from the developing South to the
industrialized North, scholars should endeavor to sift through the mesh formed by a large number of indigent but
desperate voluntary migrants who must arrive at their destinations; and the unfounded media speculations about
existing trafficking syndicates lurking to prey on passive individuals. This implies that an understanding of the
thought process of intending migrants and their determination to reach their goals at all cost might bring about a
shift in the view of transnational migration stakeholders and scholars, and possibly chart a new trajectory, which
may imply modification of existing policies for accommodation and effective handling of the globally burgeon-
ing cases of irregular migration.
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In this chapter, I address common narratives on cultural diversity and immigration that are prominent in politics as well as in some academic circles, which help to depoliticize the history of colonialism and thus fail to challenge the pervasiveness of racism in contemporary social relations. Focusing on the Portuguese context, and particularly on education, I explore some aspects I consider problematic in these narratives. I conclude by arguing for the need to develop more complex, multidisciplinary theoretical analyzes of ethno-racial discrimination. In particular, I highlight the need to consider the historical, political and contextual dimensions of the phenomenon if we are to challenge the emerging rhetoric on multiculturalism that creates a national imaginary of the country as being at ease with diversity. At a time in which the field seems to be increasingly narrowed down and dominated by experts, I wish to open up the debate and suggest directions for future research.
Chapter
When I first developed the idea for this book in 1996, I envisioned a tool that could be used not only by scholars of international migration, but also by those who were responsible for formulating and implementing policy that would affect women who migrate. It has been noted that most of the world’s refugees are female (DeLaet, this volume; Kelly 1993). In the United States, for example, ‘about one half of the immigrants admitted … for permanent residence were women’ between fiscal years 1983 and 1993 (Johnson, 1995). Because of this factor, we can no longer ignore how women are affected by international migration. The authors who have contributed to this volume have attempted to show many of the aspects of how international migration affect the lives of women.
Chapter
Although women migrate across international boundaries at roughly the same rate as men, a great deal of international migration scholarship has been based on the assumption that international migrants largely consist of male workers. According to this traditional assumption, women migrate only to join their husbands abroad, and economic factors are the underlying impetus for most migration flows. While few in number, existing studies of women and international migration challenge this simple view. These studies suggest that women migrate for a variety of complex reasons and that, in terms of migrants’ adaptions to host societies, women experience migration in unique ways (Simon and Brettell, 1986; Phizacklea, 1983).
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Throughout history, migrants have fueled the engine of human progress. Their movement has sparked innovation, spread ideas, relieved poverty, and laid the foundations for a global economy. In a world more interconnected than ever before, the number of people with the means and motivation to migrate will only increase. Exceptional People provides a long-term and global perspective on the implications and policy options for societies the world over. Challenging the received wisdom that a dramatic growth in migration is undesirable, the book proposes new approaches for governance that will embrace this international mobility. The authors explore the critical role of human migration since humans first departed Africa some fifty thousand years ago--how the circulation of ideas and technologies has benefited communities and how the movement of people across oceans and continents has fueled economies. They show that migrants in today's world connect markets, fill labor gaps, and enrich social diversity. Migration also allows individuals to escape destitution, human rights abuses, and repressive regimes. However, the authors indicate that most current migration policies are based on misconceptions and fears about migration's long-term contributions and social dynamics. Future policies, for good or ill, will dramatically determine whether societies can effectively reap migration's opportunities while managing the risks of the twenty-first century.
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Ngugi describes this book as 'a summary of some of the issues in which I have been passionately involved for the last twenty years of my practice in fiction, theatre, criticism and in teaching of literature. North America: Heinemann; Kenya: EAEP