October 4 2017: RRN Research Digest

The RRN Research Digest provides a synopsis of recent research on refugee and forced migration issues from entities associated with the RRN and others.

You can download the digest in PDF format here: RRN Research Digest No. 19

Recent Publications and New Research

Making Immigrants into Criminals: Legal Processes of Criminalization in the Post-IIRIRA Era, by Leisy Abrego, Mat Coleman, Daniel E. Martínez, Cecilia Menjívar, and Jeremy Slack

A recent report by the Migration Policy Institute suggests that just over 800,000 (or 7 percent) of the 11 million undocumented individuals in the United States have criminal records. Of this population, 300,000 individuals are felony offenders and 390,000 are serious misdemeanor offenders. This article critically reviews the literature on immigrant criminalization and trace the specific laws that first linked and then solidified the association between undocumented immigrants and criminality. To move beyond a legal, abstract context, it also draws on quantitative and qualitative research to underscore ways immigrants experience criminalization in their family, school, and work lives. Available at:


SOGICA – Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Claims of Asylum: A European human rights challenge (2016-2020)

This project, funded by the European Research Council (ERC), explores the social and legal experiences of asylum-seekers across Europe claiming international protection on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity (SOGI). Focusing on Germany, Italy and the UK as case studies, the project aims to determine how European asylum systems can treat asylum claims based on the claimant’s SOGI more fairly. The SOGICA team are now starting the fieldwork phase of the project and inviting people to participate. More information about the project and the call for participants available here:


Book Review: Should we build a wall around North Wales? By Daniel Trilling

This article reviews three books addressing the refugee crisis. Border policies, whether made by the EU or by individual states, are usually justified on the grounds of safety and security. They protect the public from terrorism, or from threats to identity and culture. They protect migrants from unscrupulous smugglers and risky journeys. Or they protect Europe from itself by keeping far-right political movements, which have been trying to exploit the chaos, out of power. The review critiques this advertised rhetoric and demonstrates how it could back fire. In the first book, the author asks in what sense is ‘the border’ the problem? the author, following a well established sociological tradition, makes a distinction between ‘direct’ violence, which can be traced to specific people or groups, and ‘structural’ violence which ‘shows up as unequal power and consequently unequal life chances’. The second book addresses the question of why the refugee system isn’t working. Tracing its historical origins, the 1951 convention was designed to respond to a particular kind of refugees: political dissidents from the Eastern Bloc. Paying more attention to the refugees’ needs and treating them as more than just mouths to feed is essential to overcoming the failure of the system. The final book highlights the more radical end of migrant solidarity, which includes ‘anti-deportation campaigns, detention visitor projects, language clubs, No Borders camps and detention prison blockades’. Available at:


New Book: Accessing Asylum in Europe: Extraterritorial Border Controls and Refugee Rights under EU Law, by Violeta Moreno-Lax

This book examines the interface between the EU’s response to irregular flows, in particular the main extraterritorial border and migration controls taken by the Member States, and the rights asylum seekers acquire from EU law. “Remote control” techniques, such as the imposition of visas, fines on carriers transporting unsatisfactorily documented third-country nationals, and interception at sea are investigated in detail in a bid to assess the impact these measures have on access to asylum in the EU. The fundamental focus of the book is the relationship between the aforementioned border and migration controls and the rights of asylum seekers and, most importantly, how these rights (should) limit the scope of such measures and the ways in which they are implemented. The ultimate goal is to conclude whether the current series of extraterritorial mechanisms of pre-entry vetting is compatible in EU law with the EU rights of refugees and forced migrants. Available at:


New Book: Gender, Violence, Refugees, Edited by Susanne Buckley-Zistel and Ulrike Krause

Providing nuanced accounts of how the social identities of men and women, the context of displacement and the experience or manifestation of violence interact, this collection offers conceptual analyses and in-depth case studies to illustrate how gender relations are affected by displacement, encampment and return. The essays show how these factors lead to various forms of direct, indirect and structural violence. This ranges from discussions of norms reflected in policy documents and practise, the relationship between relief structures and living conditions in camps, to forced military recruitment and forced return, and covers countries in Africa, Asia and Europe. Available at:


Reports, Working Papers and Briefs

On the edge of disaster: Somalis forced to flee drought and near famine conditions, By Mark Yarnell and Alice Thomas

At present, Somalia remains in the chokehold of a severe, protracted drought. More than 800,000 people have been forced to flee in order to reach lifesaving assistance. Many of these internally displaced persons (IDPs) have gone to urban centers that are under the control of the government and African Union peacekeeping forces. In cities like Mogadishu and Baidoa, the humanitarian community is struggling to keep pace with thousands of new arrivals in a challenging operating environment. Many of the displaced are currently living in squalid conditions where they not only lack adequate food, nutrition, water, shelter, and healthcare, but also are exposed to risks that threaten their health and physical safety, including gender-based violence (GBV). This report reflects on the crisis and offers recommendations to overcome the over-exhaustion of international and local aid providers. available at:


Working Paper: The impact of hosting refugees on the intrahousehold allocation of tasks: A gender perspective by Isabel Ruiz and Carlos Vargas-Silva

This paper examines whether the presence of refugees alters the intra-household allocation of tasks across genders in the hosting population. Using panel data (pre- and postrefugee inflow) from Kagera, a rural region of Tanzania, the refugee shock led to women being less likely to engage in employment outside the household and more likely to engage in household chores relative to men. This is probably the result of the environmental degradation that accompanied the arrival of refugees and the additional competition for natural resources such as wood and water. However, the results differ by (pre-shock) literacy and maths skill. For women who could read and perform simple written mathematical operations the refugee shock resulted in a higher likelihood of engaging in outside employment. On the other hand, higher exposure to the refugee shock resulted in illiterate women being more likely to engage in farming and household chores. Available at: https://www.econstor.eu/bitstream/10419/163032/1/883580284.pdf

Responsibility Sharing for Refugees in the Middle East and North Africa: Perspectives from Policymakers, Stakeholders, and Refugees and Displaced Persons, Report and Policy Brief, By Susan Martin, Rochelle Davis, Grace Benton and Zoya Waliany, 

This Delmi report focuses on responsibility sharing for refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the Middle East and North African (MENA) region. This area receives a considerable amount of refugees from neighbouring countries. In the New York Declaration adopted at the High Level Meeting Addressing Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants on 19 September 2016, governments reaffirmed their commitment to the notion of responsibility-sharing. However, the High Level Meeting did not arrive at a Global Compact on Responsibility-Sharing for Refugees, leaving its consultation for a second summit to take place in 2018. The study analyses the perspectives of policymakers, other stakeholders, and refugees and IDPs, based on qualitative data collected in situ. It identifies different areas requiring greater international cooperation. Available at:


News Reports and Blog posts

Scholar Spotlight: What Everyone Should Know about the Integration of Immigrants in the U.S., by Carola Suárez-Orozco

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) is a private, nongovernmental institution established in 1863 by an Act of Congress, signed by President Lincoln. NAS’ mission is to advise the nation on issues related to science and technology. For two years, a NAS panel of 18 distinguished social scientists representing an array of disciplines including sociology, economics, demography, psychology, and anthropology considered whether and how immigrants were integrating into American society. In the fall of 2015, they released an extensive report of their findings covering an array of topics entitled The Integration of Immigrants into American Society. In an interview Harvard sociologist Mary Waters, the chair of the distinguished NSA panel and the co-author of the resulting report, featured above, shared some of the key findings from the report. Available at: https://reimaginingmigration.org/scholar-spotlight-what-everyone-should-know-about-the-integration-of-immigrants-in-the-u-s/

My body is my piece of land, by Sine Plambech

This article reports on the Stories of migrant sex workers that often cast human smugglers as the villains, yet, the article argues, the biggest evil many migrants face is their hopeless debt in their home country, available at:


Pregnant refugees must have access to better care, say doctors, By Sarah Boseley

Pregnant refugees who have fled across the Mediterranean to Greece are at risk of harm to themselves and their babies because they are not routinely given the care they need before, during and after the birth, say doctors. Available at:


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