Refugees welcome? : How Germany, Canada, and Australia respond to contemporary migration

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2019
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This dissertation studies how three different liberal democracies; Germany, Canada, and Australia, have experienced and reacted to contemporary migration, focusing on asylum seekers and refugees. Conceptually, it assumes that their admission leads to paradoxes for host states’ governmental apparatuses: If these migrants’ reasons to seek new lives outside of their home countries and regions are recognized, they need to be granted protection statuses and thus be ‘welcomed’ to stay temporarily or permanently. As a consequence of public ‘backlashes’ and anxieties, destination countries’ governments have however increasingly attempted to control and restrict their entry. To understand these phenomena, this study explains the underlying incentives and scopes for handling contemporary migratory movements primarily from a governmental top-down point of view. Historical institutionalism helps to understand the path-dependent emergence of certain policies in the context of each state’s particular actor constellations. Approaches taken from public choice theory are adopted to illuminate the connection between societal sentiments, discourses, and domestic political decisionmaking. Insights from delegation, blame and signaling games are used to complete this picture. Supplemented by expert interviews, the empirical part of this study deciphers the observable political developments, as well as the resulting administrative asylum/refugee regimes in 21st century Germany, Canada, and Australia. The selected cases include one ‘newcomer’ and two ‘classic’ immigration countries. In line with the conceptual model, its focus lies on key actors’ influences in the corresponding institutional set-ups, as well as the internal developments that are shaped by the historical paths, discourses and public opinion. The crosscountry comparison in this most different systems design shows that, although Germany’s, Canada’s, and Australia’s humanitarian commitments and overall experiences with contemporary migratory movements have differed sharply in many regards, certain phenomena have been recurring. In particular, political elites in all three states have been maneuvering fine lines between different policy objectives, attempting to ‘filter’ and ‘manage’ migration and settlement. The advancing externalization of border regimes made it more difficult to physically reach these states in the first place. But also once there, migrants have been facing other obstacles before eventually being granted protection statuses and the corresponding socioeconomic rights. The legal regimes have been complemented by widely hidden practices of ‘administrative deterrence’ aiming at the reduction of so-called ‘pull factors’. This has entailed dysfunctional and discriminatory refugee status determination systems which pit different migrant groups against each other and leave many in legal uncertainty for long periods. Only for particular subgroups of refugees, the way to an arrival in dignity has been paved in all three states. Further crucially, the observable overall convergence to more selective admission frameworks cannot distract from the fact that related challenges have been of completely different scales: The implementation of well-functioning asylum administrations certainly depends on the corresponding claimants’ numbers and profiles. Domestic conflicts over material priorities have nonetheless contributed to the development of short-term pseudo-solutions to the inherent dilemmas in all three cases. These often came at the expense of procedural fairness and long-term goals such as social ‘integration’. Instead of reflecting strategic decisions, many findings thus point out to political ‘muddling through’. The comparison of their preconditions and the corresponding outcomes provides starting points for emulating, consolidating or abolishing certain policies – in order to achieve more coherent and evidence-based decisionmaking in this controversial area.

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320 Politik
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asylum/refugee policy and administration, migration regimes, Germany, Canada, Australia
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undefined / . - undefined, undefined
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ISO 690WIESE, Lorenz, 2019. Refugees welcome? : How Germany, Canada, and Australia respond to contemporary migration [Dissertation]. Konstanz: University of Konstanz
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@phdthesis{Wiese2019Refug-47939,
  year={2019},
  title={Refugees welcome? : How Germany, Canada, and Australia respond to contemporary migration},
  author={Wiese, Lorenz},
  address={Konstanz},
  school={Universität Konstanz}
}
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August 1, 2019
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Konstanz, Univ., Diss., 2019
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