The Marie-Curie Project A Place for Asylum Seekers. European migration policies and their socio-spatial impacts (PASS) analysed the socio-spatial impact of asylum legislation in the European Union since 2013 – when the latest Dublin III Regulation (No. 604/2013) and communitarian efforts to achieve an integrated system on migration had become an increasingly central issue in EU policies.
In this context, ‘socio-spatial’ impact refers to two primary and concomitant aspects. On the one hand, the controlled formal spaces and practices implemented in order to manage the phenomenon: checkpoints, sorting centres, reception procedures, and the EU Relocation Programme. On the other hand, it concerns the daily life of migrants who are divided into different categories defined by the legislation itself, such as legal/illegal, forced/economic, asylum seekers/refugees and so on.
The research involved two steps. Firstly, I analysed the European legislative texts on asylum, focusing on definitions of and distinctions between migrant categories (legal/illegal; economic migrants/asylum-seeker/refugee), as well as the procedures utilised to sort them. Secondly, I explored the link between, on the one hand, legislative texts and the resulting asylum policies and, on the other hand, the experiences of migrants themselves. The latter being often characterised by tensions, resistance and clashes. The project is based on a dual perspective: 1. A top-down perspective, involved in the analysis of the European, Italian and Dutch immigration policies; and 2. A bottom-up perspective, embedded in the migration experience and focused on the migrants’ agency. These two perspectives were considered as complementary and interlinked aspects of the same research framework, since both are crucial viewpoints in disinterring the rationale and characteristics of European migration policies and their impacts.
In order to understand the impacts of policies on migrants’ lives in greater detail, PASS was strongly empirically oriented and utilised both quantitative (mapping the formal settlements) and qualitative methods: discursive analysis of legislative and parliamentary texts, as well as ethnographies both in Italy and in the Netherlands (observations, in-depth interviews, shadowing, visual methods) [see: Methods]. The final goal of PASS was to elaborate empirical data in order to build more human rights-oriented policies [link: advice], in line with the needs expressed by migrants and by the European Commission (Understanding and Tackling the Migration Challenge: The Role of Research, 4-5 February 2016), which requests the dissemination of results as a means to combat migrant misconceptions.