Theme: Political Economy | Content Type: Journal article

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The Persistence of the Hostile Environment after the Windrush Scandal

Mike Slaven

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Unlike most immigration policy areas amidst Brexit, the government's ‘hostile environment’ approach has changed little since 2014, despite it making no measurable impact on the migration statistics the government prioritises, while landing it in hot water over the Windrush scandal. Why does the hostile environment nevertheless persist? Despite its strong association with today's Conservatives, the hostile environment extends a decades-long trend of deepening various social systems’ involvement in UK immigration control, creating increasing problems when long-settled immigrants face suspicion at vulnerable life stages. Yet, the hostile environment provides a way to pursue legitimacy in immigration control given the UK state's particular limitations and pressures: it demonstrates action against ‘illegal immigration’, avoids revealing earlier control lapses and averts difficult reforms, like national identification cards, to monitor the population more thoroughly. The risks of this approach have only increased as Brexit has unsettled migration statuses, yet the hostile environment will likely remain.

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    Mike Slaven

    Mike Slaven is Senior Lecturer in International Politics at the University of Lincoln.

    Articles by Mike Slaven