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Can only victims win? – how UK immigration law has moved from consideration of rights and entitlements to assertions of vulnerability

York, Sheona (2018) Can only victims win? – how UK immigration law has moved from consideration of rights and entitlements to assertions of vulnerability. In: Society of Legal Scholars, 4-7 September 2018, London. (Unpublished) (KAR id:69443)

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Abstract

Looking at two prominent moments in UK immigration law, I assess how UK political changes have affected immigration law and practice.

In contrast, the 2012 introduction of new Immigration Rules on family migration, considered in the House of Commons on 19 June 2012, had engendered little public debate beyond lawyers and NGOs. Virtually ignoring the underlying aim of reducing net migration to the ‘tens of thousands’, and the likely effect of the rule changes on ordinary families, the Commons debate concentrated on how judges’ interpretations of art. 8 ECHR rights had prevented deportations of ‘foreign national criminals’, requiring a clear statement in the Rules of how art. 8 would be applied in future.

Since then, Home Office policy and practice and applicants’ legal strategies and public campaigns have focused on vulnerability. Courts struggle over definitions of ‘exceptional circumstances’, ‘unduly harsh’ consequences, ‘insurmountable obstacles’ and the ‘precarious’ migrant, while campaigns focus on unfortunate individuals, children, trafficked and other abused victims. I suggest that this apolitical resort to assertions of vulnerability, analogous to Samuel Moyn’s ‘last utopia’ of human rights, is a blind alley, and that instead we need to start, or re-start, a political debate about ‘belonging’ and migrants’ rights and entitlements.

Item Type: Conference or workshop item (Paper)
Uncontrolled keywords: equal rights, rights and entitlements, human rights, vulnerability, exceptional, multiculturalism, identity politics, solidarity
Subjects: K Law
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > Kent Law School
Depositing User: Sheona York
Date Deposited: 11 Oct 2018 10:27 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2021 13:58 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/69443 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
York, Sheona: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0233-0997
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