Insecure Legal Status and Work: Failed Asylum Iraqi-Kurdish Applicants in the UK
The number of young people without rights of residence and/or work in many Western countries is growing. Although undocumented migration has become the subject of a number of studies, the dynamics of youth migration from Iraq to the UK has not been studied. Displacement and forced migration from Iraq has a distinct historical meaning in international migration and the ethno-national, sectarian and unequal distribution of resources continue to be the major cause for war and internal displacement as well as refugee outflows. However, the discourses and representations of undocumented migrants, including failed asylum-seekers, by the British Government and media are extremely hostile and consider undocumented people as ‘illegal immigrants’ who must ‘go home’.
The current hostile financial environment and anti-immigrant public and policy climate in the UK have pushed undocumented young migrants to live without civil or social rights in one of the wealthier states in the world. However the undocumented young migrants are trying to develop different strategies to survive and have access to the labour market to counter social disadvantage
Drawing on a survey of 178 undocumented Kurdish young people from Kurdistan-Iraq, four focus group discussions in different parts of the UK including London, Brighton, Birmingham and Derbyshire and, nine key informant interviews, the paper explores the experiences of Kurdish people without rights of residence and/or work in the UK and, the strategies that they adopt to secure labour market participation and gain new skills.