Conference statement

Over two days in June, over 200 researchers and migrant rights activists from around the world gathered in Malmö for the International Conference on Migration, Irregularisation and Activism. In 30 workshops and plenary lectures we shared knowledge, experiences, and analyses accumulated from a variety of projects on global migration. Many presentations addressed the current migration political situation in Europe and in Sweden through analyses of border politics and of people’s experiences of border control, both en route and in its routine expressions, in everyday life and in places of arrival. Other presentations offered historical reflections on how border control has changed over time, and how border control is linked to racism, social differentiation and economic inequality within Europe.

Although we –the conference participants– represent a variety of academic and political perspectives, we are all troubled by the current political development on migration issues and share a sense of distress about the thousands of migrants who have died while trying to make the journey across and within European borders.

In Sweden, since last autumn, the government has developed legislation that seeks to deter asylum seekers and irregular migrants. Among the changes that have already been implemented passport checks have effectively closed the borders for asylum seekers trying to reach Sweden. Another new policy that has just been implemented is the withdrawal of accommodation for asylum applicants who have been rejected. On June 21 the parliament will vote on further proposals which entail a series of harsh measures that will have even more wide-ranging and detrimental consequences for asylum seekers’ rights and lives.

We are taking this opportunity to protest against the restrictive legislations that have already been implemented in Sweden and against the additional proposals that the parliament will soon be voting upon.

Our conviction is informed by the depth and breadth of our collective experience as researchers and activists. Many of the research conclusions shared at this conference show the importance of permanence and stability for enabling migrants to demand labour rights, to build or rebuild families, and to move towards creating a secure and safe life. But the legislation proposed by the Swedish government creates the opposite conditions: it proposes temporary residence permits instead of permanent ones. It demands educational attainment of young refugees that is not required of Swedish nationals and other more privileged migrants. It proposes labour market performance as a condition for permanent permits and for the right of family reunification. And it tacitly supports an anti-immigrant discourse that creates a climate of fear and insecurity for migrants and their families.

Many protests and campaigns to reject these proposals are currently underway – and with this statement we join them. As scholars we see it as our obligation to voice clearly that the proposed legislation, as well as the changes that have already been implemented, are in opposition to what we see as established knowledge about the conditions of migration and migration rights.

Therefore, we demand:

That the European Union facilitates safe passage for refugees to Europe, so they do not have to undertake dangerous and traumatic journeys;

That the European Union and member state governments facilitate their citizens learning about their responsibilities to refugees;

In Sweden we demand that that people on their way to or through Europe are not stopped from reaching Sweden by transporter’s liability and passport checks;

That families have the right to reunite without risking their lives and without being forced into precarious situations in the labour market;

That people be offered the opportunity to gain security and continuity through permanent residence permits.

 

The conference participants agreed unanimously during a plenary session to stand behind this statement

Bridget Anderson (Oxford University, Storbritannien)
Liz Fekete (Institute of Race Relations, Storbritannien)
Mercedes Jiménez (University of Algarve; Portugal)

Pouran Djampour (Malmö Högskola)
Jacob Lind (Malmö Högskola)
Vanna Nordling (Lunds Universitet)
Maja Sager (Lunds Universitet)
Emma Söderman (Lunds Universitet)
Ioanna Tsoni (Malmö Högskola)
Anders Neergaard (Linköping Universitet)
Anna Lundberg (Malmö Universitet)
Sanna Vestin (FARR)
Carin Björngren Cuadra (Lunds universitet)

Every participant at the International Conference on Migration, Irregularisation and Activism: Challenging Contemporary Border Regimes, Racism and Subordination.