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Precarious LivesForced labour, exploitation and asylum$
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Hannah Lewis, Peter Dwyer, Stuart Hodkinson, and Louise Waite

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781447306900

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447306900.001.0001

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The significance of socio-legal status

The significance of socio-legal status

(p.81) 4 The significance of socio-legal status
Precarious Lives

Hannah Lewis

Peter Dwyer

Stuart Hodkinson

Louise Waite

Policy Press

Chapter 4 explores the significance of socio-legal status in structuring the lives of asylum seekers and refugees resident in the UK. It is argued that the limited or non-existent rights to residence work and welfare that are variously available to migrants at different stages of the asylum process create conditions which help to facilitate severely exploitative work and forced labour. We identify three groups categorised by entry into the UK and into forced labour – asylum seekers on entry, irregular migrants and trafficked migrants. This typology exposes three principle intersections of forced migration and forced labour. The chapter considers the relationship between both irregular and regular migrant status and susceptibility to labour exploitation, relating compromised rights to work, welfare and residence to lived experiences of ‘illegality’, destitution and deportability. We argue that employers make instrumental use of precarious immigration status as tool of coercion and control in exploitative labour relations. Importantly, discussions in the chapter also show how the legacy of constrained socio-legal status and the criminalisation of those asylum seekers and refugees prosecuted for illegal working produce lasting precarity in the lives of many, even when rights to residence, work and welfare are ultimately acquired.

Keywords:   immigration status, immigration controls, destitution, deportation, illegality

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