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The art of the (im)possible: legislators’ experiences of the lawmaking process when reforming migration law
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Child and Youth Studies.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-3157-0279
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Child and Youth Studies.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Law, Department of Law, Stockholm Centre for Commercial Law.
2016 (English)In: The Theory and Practice of Legislation, ISSN 2050-8840, Vol. 4, no 1, 45-63 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

We do not know enough about how legislators from different political parties make sense of their ambitions and experiences in relation to the development of asylum policy. In this study we wanted to find out how political discussions can create conditions for legislative change. The present study therefore explored how the Swedish 2005 Aliens Act and the new system for appeals and procedures (NSAP) were negotiated and perceived by 15 legislators of the parliamentary Committee on Social Insurance (COSI) that considered this new legal framework that is effective since 2006. The participants were openly interviewed about their experiences of negotiating migration policy via their committee work. The study is inspired by interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) as it can reach an understanding of how research participants’ attempt to make sense of their lived experience. First, the interview transcripts were transcribed verbatim and then independently coded by the first two authors. Thereafter they collaboratively refined the themes and sub-themes and discussed them with the third author. The overall finding is that the preceding political negotiations can be one of the reasons for unclear aims when politicians’ propose new legislation. This is because directives can consist of many divergent perspectives and considerations. The specific findings are that the period under consideration was described as dramatic and stressful with the presence of uncommon political collaboration between political parties as well as the pushing of legislation via budget negotiations. In addition, they said that the suggested changes in asylum policy and implementation were mainly based on other policy aspects, such as fiscal considerations and state-municipality relations. Participants also viewed that identified problems with asylum decision-making have not been sufficiently resolved by the new framework. Even though this study was conducted in Sweden, its findings can be relevant to other political systems in more developed countries as these states also can struggle with contradictory aims with asylum policy.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. Vol. 4, no 1, 45-63 p.
Keyword [en]
Legislative intent, legal reform, parliamentary work, political negotiations, policy-making, lawmakers, lived experience, migration law, refugees, asylum-seekers, rule of law, juridification, judicialisation, Sweden
National Category
Law
Research subject
Child and Youth Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-127101DOI: 10.1080/20508840.2016.1158391OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-127101DiVA: diva2:906480
Available from: 2016-02-24 Created: 2016-02-24 Last updated: 2016-09-26Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Drawing the limits: Unaccompanied minors in Swedish asylum policy and procedure
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Drawing the limits: Unaccompanied minors in Swedish asylum policy and procedure
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The overall aim of the thesis is to explore legislators’ perceptions of unaccompanied children in the development of migration law, and how case-officers transform the policy in arguments for and against residency in asylum-cases.

More specifically, this thesis explores how Swedish legislators experienced parliamentary work when putting in place the 2005 Aliens Act and the new system for appeals and procedures. In addition, it explores legislators understanding of the concept of unaccompanied minors, and how the Swedish Migration Agency (SMA) case-officers understand unaccompanied minors’ credibility. It draws on interview data with 15 legislators of the Swedish parliament and an analysis of 916 decisions in asylum cases concerning unaccompanied minors. The thesis is theoretically informed by interpretative phenomenology and social constructionism. The method used builds on detailed coding procedures in qualitative social research as they are applied in interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA), thematic analysis and text analysis.

Study 1 examines the experiences of 15 legislators when negotiating migration reform in parliament. The findings indicate that the preceding political negotiations can be one of the reasons for unclear aims when politicians’ propose new legislation. In addition, it seems that other policy areas, such as fiscal considerations and state-municipality relations, took precedence in the negotiations when the legislators were attempting to make sense of their experiences in discussing asylum policy.

Study 2 explores legislators’ perceptions of unaccompanied minors arriving in Sweden. The findings show that chronological age is a key reference point concerning how legislators understand unaccompanied minors’ claims for asylum and other needs. In addition, the findings suggest that legislators perceive unaccompanied minors as an ambivalent category and that this understanding is influenced by deep-rooted welfare ideology. Furthermore, the findings indicate that legislators develop policy concerning unaccompanied children without considering that they need to be recognised as individuals with different backgrounds, agendas and needs.

Study 3 scrutinises how SMA case-officers construct unaccompanied minors credibility in asylum decisions. It shows that case-officers use similar techniques both when approving and rejecting decisions. These techniques consistently question the competence and political agency of the chid in such a way that the element of individual assessment in asylum procedure can become severely restricted.

In brief, this thesis identifies that the connection between migration and child policy is complex as legislators appear to struggle with “drawing the limits” of who to include or exclude in policy aims. Hence, the juridical field was seen as the answer to improve legitimation. This also means that the concept of asylum has become de-politicised. In addition, case-officers also seem to use a limited repertoire of arguments when drawing the limits for unaccompanied minors’ credibility in asylum decisions. This thesis points to possible dilemmas in asylum policy and procedure concerning unaccompanied minors.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Child and Youth Studies. Stockholm University, 2016. 115 p.
Keyword
unaccompanied minors, separated minors, refugees, asylum policy, child policy, legislators, migration reform, legislative intent, juridification, perceptions, adolescent, age assessment, immigration agency, credibility, evidence assessment
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Research subject
Child and Youth Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-127091 (URN)978-91-7649-335-9 (ISBN)
Public defence
2016-04-15, Nordenskiöldsalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 12, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 1: Accepted. Paper 3: Manuscript.

Available from: 2016-03-21 Created: 2016-02-24 Last updated: 2016-03-11Bibliographically approved

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Hedlund, DanielCederborg, Ann-ChristinZamboni, Mauro
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