Migration Working Group on Intricacies in the Regulation of Emigration and Immigration
As part of the Migration Working Group, the Migration Policy Centre will host the following presentations:
‘Intentional Ambiguity in Governance: Refugee Policies under Pressure in Jordan’ by Lillian Frost, Max Weber Fellow (Virginia Tech/EUI)
Why do states adopt policies that say one thing in law but do another in practice? I argue that competing pressures on executive political leaders (e.g., presidents, prime ministers, kings, etc.) can explain the implementation of a group’s rights better than existing arguments that attribute this outcome primarily to institutional weakness and limited resources. I contend that when the most influential stakeholders for the executive leader’s political survival—e.g., the largest donor, strongest security leaders, or a key domestic constituency—have divergent policy preferences, the leader can placate those that are both for and against the policy by allowing its law to please one side and its implementation to please the other: what I call intentional ambiguity. With intentional ambiguity, the law will reflect the preference of the stakeholder or bloc of stakeholders that is more external to the leader’s inner circle and to governing, while the implementation will align with the stakeholder or bloc of stakeholders that is more internal.
This paper assesses intentional ambiguity in the rights host states grant to refugee groups by focusing on the rights that Jordan has granted over time to two Palestinian groups. The first includes those who fled during the 1948 war to the Gaza Strip and then to Jordan’s East Bank after the 1967 war; the second is those who fled during the 1948 war to the West Bank and then to Jordan’s East Bank after the 1967 war. This paper examines cases of intentional ambiguity by tracing the emergence of nationality and passports policies in Jordan toward these two groups between 1949 and 1990. Comparing these two groups’ access to Jordanian passports and nationality over time enables me to leverage controlled case comparisons that hold existing explanations constant across refugee group, time period, and policy area and to identify these policies in law and practice, which is difficult to do at scale. I use extensive primary source data to code and analyze these policies, dominant stakeholder preferences, and forms of institutional weakness. These data include 500 U.S. and UK archival files I compiled on Jordan’s internal political affairs between 1967 and 1973 as well as 75 Jordanian laws and bylaws I collected and over 200 interviews with ministers, lawyers, refugees, and others I conducted during 14 months of fieldwork in Jordan from 2016–19.
Overall, this paper reveals that gaps in implementation can reflect a strategic political practice—rather than simply institutional weakness—where leaders parse apart a policy into its law and implementation dimensions to placate opposing influential stakeholders. This paper also highlights the fuzzy lines at times between citizens and noncitizens by demonstrating that their rights can be similar in practice, despite diverging in law. In addition, this paper pushes the citizenship and migration literature beyond the global north by analyzing refugee policies in the global south and proposing arguments that also may help inform refugee policies in the global north.
‘A suitcase full of troubles: Greek guest workers in West Germany and their relations with the homeland 1960-1989’ by Maria Adamopoulou, PhD Researcher (EUI-HEC)
My thesis deals with postwar labor migration from Greece to the Federal Republic of Germany from 1960 to 1989. Many scholars have looked at the efforts of the West German government to regulate the Gastarbeiter program, but only few commented the involvement of the sending countries both in the recruitment and the management of the migrant population. My aim is to show that the Greek government influenced the selection process by filtering the candidate migrants according to its standards. More than that, it continuously intervened through its embassy and consulates in the Federal Republic struggling to ensure the migrants’ submission. On the other hand, the response of the migrants to the measures predicted for them variated and it was expressed in different initiatives from their part, due to their inner fragmentation into conflicting groups. A closer look at the recent past of the Second World War, the Greek Civil War and its legacy, is crucial, in order to contextualise the fears that drove the policy-making of both the Greek and the West German governments in the wider framework of the Cold War. It is essential to remember that labor migration does not just concern the workplace and its dynamics, but also the wider social life of migrants in the host country and their potential integration. Infiltration through information, leisure and cultural activities was the major concern of all sides.
Ileana Dana Nicolau, PhD Researcher (EUI-SPS)
Ioannis Chalkos, PhD Researcher (EUI-HEC)
Chair: Anne Sofie Cornelius Nielsen (PhD Researcher, EUI)