Anti-Deportation Protest in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland

Monday, 11 July 2016: 16:15
Location: Hörsaal 26 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Nina MERHAUT, Universität Wien, Austria
Didier RUEDIN, University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
Deportation has become a central element of immigration control, particularly of rejected asylum seekers. While it helps maintain state sovereignty over borders, deportation often contravenes the spirit of human rights legislation. Despite its coercive nature and common use, for a long time deportation has been a ‘non-issue’ in public discourse, implemented without public opposition or publicity at all. Increasingly, however, deportations are met with feelings of unease and moral outrage – at least in certain sections of society –, manifesting itself in various forms of protest against deportation. This paper uses a systematic analysis of news reports of anti-deportation protests in Austria, Switzerland, and Germany (1993–2013) to examine differences in protest volume, protest actors, protest forms, and demands. A difference is drawn between altruistic movements that act on behalf of others to assist social change and aspiring movements that aim for social change. Preliminary findings indicate the volume and nature of protest varies across countries and has changed over time. The volume of protest is increasing in Austria and decreasing in Germany. In Austria and Switzerland, grassroots actors are increasingly important. At the same time, the focus in Austria is on preventing individual deportations, while in Switzerland protestors typically seek policy changes. Correlates for difference in the volume and kind of protest are presented, and it is argued that the protest movements in the three countries are of a different kind.