A Sledgehammer to Crack a Nut: Deportation, Detention and Dispersal in Europe Liza Schuster


Since the increase in the numbers of asylum-seekers arriving in Europe in the early 1990s, European countries of asylum have been implementing new and increased controls over entry and making conditions more difficult for asylum-seekers while they are waiting for a decision on their case. This paper explores the ways in which four European asylum regimes use the deportation, detention and dispersal of asylum-seekers in an attempt to control and exclude them from national societies and territories. Germany, France, Italy and the UK have different migration histories and have introduced different asylum policies at different times; but all have in common the increasingly draconian response to asylum-seekers since the 1990s. The paper looks at the stated rationale for introducing and extending dispersal, deportation and detention. EU governments have introduced these measures, arguing that they will deter “fraudulent” asylum claims. While the number of claims has fallen in the last five years to the lowest level since 1988, there is no evidence that this is due to such policies. It is clear, however, that these policies penalize all asylum-seekers, breach their human rights, damage the receiving societies as a whole, and as such should be abandoned.