Routes to illegal residence: A case study of immigration detainees in the United Kingdom

This paper investigates the various ways in which migrants to the United Kingdom become illegally resident. Drawing on findings from a pilot study of undocumented migrants held in detention centres in the United Kingdom, it explores why respondents had chosen to come to the United Kingdom, how they came, and how they ended up residing illegally. In contrast to common assumptions about ‘illegal immigrants’, the present study reveals the diversity of paths into illegalresidence, and stresses the importance of perceived safety, both from ‘persecution’ and more generalised violence, as well as the ease of finding work in a strong economy. The sample included both those who had knowingly come to the United Kingdom to live and work illegally, and those who had become illegal during their stay

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