T05P02 - The Public Administration of Immigration

Topic : Policy Formulation, Administration and Policymakers

Panel Chair : Mireille Paquet - mireille.paquet@concordia.ca

Panel Second Chair : Sule Tomkinson - sule.tomkinson@pol.ulaval.ca

Objectives and Scientific Relevance of the panel

Call for papers

Session 1 Immigration Policy Actors and Implementation


Federica Infantino - federica.infantino@ulb.ac.be - University of Oxford/Université Libre de Bruxelles - Belgium

Local Migration Policies: Interactive Dynamics between Incumbent Politicians, Civil Servants, and Social Movements. Comparative Evidence from Italian Cities

Raffaele Bazurli - raffaele.bazurli@sns.it - Scuola Normale Superiore - Italy

The local level is where policies that more directly affect the daily life of immigrants are adopted and implemented. In the context of south European cities as receiving societies, not only the local government, but also multiple actors of the civil society mobilize over the policy process, playing a preeminent role in either favoring or preventing the integration of immigrants. Moreover, the influence and discretion of civil servants seem particularly pronounced in the stage of implementation – once elected officials have set general political frames through the official adoption of policy decisions. In this picture, however, one major player is missing, namely social movements. Their outcomes for local migration policy have been largely neglected, although the contentious politics of migration-related issues has escalated in the last decades – presumably producing policy change. For example, antiracist movements often combine political advocacy and voluntarism, in order to either substitute or cooperate with local authorities in service delivery. Conversely, anti-immigrant groups are likely to patrol areas used for hosting migrants, expressing their opposition to such an employment of public spaces. Therefore, this paper addresses the following questions, in the context of the Italian cities of Milan and Naples: How do movements influence the local migration policy-making? How are the responses of incumbent politicians and civil servants vis-à-vis social movements different? A theoretical endeavor is undertaken to bridge social movement and policy studies. The strategic interplay between policy-makers and movements is scrutinized dynamically throughout the policy process, also resorting to the concept of ‘local migration policy arena’. Policy-makers are analyzed as multidimensional targets: elected officials are more likely to interact with movements during policy formulation, while civil servants are the preferred targets during policy implementation. The local migration policy arena does not take place in a void, however. The theoretical framework then takes into account relevant contextual aspects, namely the institutional and discursive policy-specific opportunities, the structural changes due to immigration, and the ‘municipal opportunity structure’. The latter refers to the configuration of power in the local government, and it is taken as main explanatory dimension. Different patterns of interaction in the policy arena are likely to emerge because of it, then eventually leading to variations in the policy outcomes. A comparative case study is carried out according to a most similar research design. The cities analyzed express the greatest variation in terms of municipal opportunities, as not only center-left and center-right coalitions are considered, but also local governments with a movement component on the radical left. The analysis of policy documents, newspapers, as well as surveys and semi-structured interviews are the main instruments used in this paper, whose empirical evidence is preliminary, in the context of a broader cross-national research project.

Policy Capacity of Non-State Actors: The Case of Community Organizations for Immigrants Integration in Toronto, Canada

Francis Garon - fgaron@glendon.yorku.ca - Glendon College / York University - Canada

Non-state actors have become de facto “street-level bureaucrats” in a variety of policy sectors. Although a lot has been said about the pros and cons of “partnerships” and other governance arrangements between state and non-state actors, policy capacity of the latter has not been systematically investigated. Given their increased responsibilities in the development and implementation of policy and in the delivery of services, their capacity need to be better assessed and analyzed.


Immigration and integration policy in Toronto, Canada, is such a sector where non-state actors are now providing most services to newcomers (settlement, housing, employment, etc.). As Toronto is now one of the most diverse cities in the Western world, these actors play a central role in encouraging and sustaining a diverse and inclusive society. However, as any policy actors, these non-state actors are facing great challenges in trying to secure the resources that they need to accomplish their mission and objectives. One way of securing resources and influence is through their policy capacity.


More specifically, I analyze the policy capacity of non-state actors through three main dimensions: resources, autonomy, and knowledge. Resources refer to the capacity of non-state actors to deliver services, mainly through funding, infrastructure and staff. Autonomy is closely linked to resources as the nature of funding greatly influenced autonomy. Put simply, the more funding is coming from the government under “services agreements” specifying targets, the less autonomy for non-state actors. Finally, knowledge refers to the expertise of non-state actors and their capacity to engage into policy debates.



This framework should provide insights into three competing perspectives regarding the relationships between state and non-sate actors in governance settings. First, the “critical perspective” assumes that any relationships between state and non-state actors will follow the interests of the former, and will be subsumed under neo-liberal thinking and practices. In this case, non-state actors are just instruments of state actors. This perspective could potentially underestimate the capacity of non-state actors. Second, the “optimistic perspective” suggests that governments’ support will create “structured mobilization” of non-state actors and their target groups and will help them becoming active and engaged citizens. This second perspective could underestimate the consequences of interacting with state actors. Finally, the “conflictual-cooperation perspective” assumes that non-state actors cooperate at times with public authorities in achieving common goals, while using routine forms of protest and advocacy at other times in order to defend the interests of their clienteles.


I explore these ideas through the case of community organizations implementing immigration and integration policy in Toronto, Canada. The analysis is based on interviews (25) with community organizations charged with the implementation of immigration and integration policy. The semi-structured interviews aim at documenting the three dimensions of policy capacity cited above (resources, autonomy, and knowledge). The interviews are completed with a thorough analysis of the relevant documentation.


Making Immigration Policy: Bureaucrats and Migration Theory

Mireille Paquet - mireille.paquet@concordia.ca - Concordia University - Canada

This paper explores the role of individual bureaucrats and bureaucratic units in immigration policy formulation. In dialogue with public administration, public policy and migration policy theory, it asks: how do bureaucrats contribute to the design of immigration public policies and how is their influence affected by institutional as well as political factors? Based on a realist ethnographic fieldwork in Quebec’s department of immigration between 2014 and 2016, this paper shows that migration theory must account for the substantial role of bureaucrats in policy formulation to better specify the mechanisms contributing to the maintenance or the demise of national models and modes of migration politics, as well as for the convergence of migration policies. This role is contingent on four groups of factors that will be explored in the paper: 1) the impact of institutional structures; 2) the influence of bureaucrats’ ethos; 3) the consequences of the internal dynamism of bureaucracy and 4) bureaucracy’s responses to situational imperatives.

Justice, discretion, and trust: the politics of refugee governance in Canada

Sule Tomkinson - sule.tomkinson@pol.ulaval.ca - Université Laval - Canada

Most migration and refugee research on the street-level bureaucracy tradition examines public policy delivery and decision-making by focusing on two main actors: the front-line worker and the non-citizen. Lately, there has been a great deal of focus on the consequences of contracting out and e-government, on the quality of service delivery.  Absent from this literature is the impact of non-state actors on street-level migration and refugee decision-making. Drawing on theories of trust from the management and psychology disciplines, this manuscript explores the interdependent and sometimes conflictual roles played by adjudicators and refugee lawyers in determining refugee claims at the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). Based on 18 months of fieldwork that combined direct observation of 50 refugee hearings and interviews with 10 refugee lawyers and 10 former adjudicators in Montreal, I explore the ways verisimilitude in refugee narratives is evaluated during administrative hearings, conceptualizing trust as a key element of refugee governance. The hearing room represents the ordinary context of refugee governance as a socially negotiated space where non-citizens’ rights claims are made, screened, granted or rejected. This paper illustrates the ways in which trust plays a major role in adjudicators’ relationships with lawyers during the investigation of refugee claims. When faced with adjudicators they don’t trust, refugee lawyers find ways to delay processing of cases, which costs money and time for the IRB. With lawyers they trust, adjudicators share information and even decision-making authority.

Policy Implementation and the Greek Refugee Crisis

Nikos Zahariadis - zahariadisn@rhodes.edu - Rhodes College - United States

Why have efforts to address the refugee crisis in Greece (2012-2016) mostly failed to produce the desired results? Adapting Edwards’ (1980) framework of implementation to incorporate external influences, I argue the complexity and transnational nature of the refugee issue coupled with economic austerity in Greece and lack of administrative capacity pose nearly insurmountable problems to effective policy implementation. External resources and capacity on balance supersede the impact of domestic variables by adding to implementation effectiveness despite problems with steering and accountability. Interestingly, NGO capacity at the local level has been important but has had mixed effects entangled in politics and mistrust. The findings have implications for theories of implementation, migration, and the future of European integration.

Session 2 Public Administration of Migration: A Comparative View


Mireille Paquet - mireille.paquet@concordia.ca - Concordia University - Canada

The (Surprising?) Pragmatism of Migration Control Agents in the Schengen Area

Tobias Eule - tobias.eule@oefre.unibe.ch - University of Bern - Switzerland

This paper, based on extensive ethnographic fieldwork with migration authorities in a number of European states, examines an often overlooked factor when trying to account for the limits of migration control: The limited investment of migration control agents in their own job. Removed from the political and media spectacles of migrations, most agents do not make sense of ther work with reference to national sovereignty or security, but act according to what seems adequate and (just about) good enough. The paper argues that a closer look into the public administration of immigration must account for its banality, for the mundane activities and routine ways of enacting policies. This is especially true in Europe, where a great majority of immigrants have access to wideranging rights for an indefinite amount of time.


The paper will argue that even when researching the implementation of drastic aspects of migration policies (such as detention, deportations or detection tacticts for irregular migrants), the officers involved go about their tasks with a steady and pragmatic routine. Thus even in heavily securitised border regions, officials care for their lunch break enough to halt or abandon surveillance missions. While the further politicisation of migration since the "refugee crisis" of 2015 manifests itself in public debates and policy, the paper holds that it does not take over the way the "migration regime" seems to work. This in turn can help explain the "implementation gap" in migration policy, as well as point to openings for migrant subjects to realise their agency.

Immigration policy theories: Thinking outside the ‘Western liberal-democratic’ box

Katharina Natter - k.natter@uva.nl - University of Amsterdam - Netherlands

Immigration and public policy theories are almost exclusively rooted in the experiences of European or North American countries and bound - explicitly or implicitly - to the ‘Western liberal-democratic’ context. This article presents theoretical reflections on immigration policy-making in polities that are not categorized as ‘Western liberal democracies’ and tests them against preliminary empirical insights from Morocco and Tunisia. It asks: To what extent can existing theories of immigration and public-policy making capture policy processes in different types of polities? Is their boundary condition, the ‘Western liberal-democratic polity’, empirically grounded and theoretically relevant?


The paper first reviews main immigration and public policy theories and develops hypotheses on how the characteristics of a polity impact their applicability. It engages with prominent immigration policy theories such as Hollifield’s liberal paradox (1992), Freeman’s client politics model (1995) or Sassen’s theory on the constraining role of international human rights on national immigration policies (1996), but also with public policy theories such as Jones’ sequential model (1970), Kingdon’s policy streams (2002), the agenda setting models by Cobb et. al. (1976) or Pierson’s emphasis on path dependency (1993). Second, the paper dissects policy-making in Morocco and Tunisia. Since the 1990s, immigration to Morocco and Tunisia from Africa, the Middle East and Europe has increased. Based on extensive fieldwork, the paper analyses the emergence of immigration as a ‘public problem’ in Morocco and Tunisia and the processes of agenda-setting and interest reconciliation underlying immigration policy changes over the 2000-2015 period. This part focusses particularly on inter-institutional dynamics within the Moroccan and Tunisian state apparatus, as well as their interaction with a rapidly evolving civil society - all against the background of changing political landscape in North Africa. Finally, the paper investigates whether and to what extent conventional theories on immigration and public policy are able to explain immigration policy dynamics in Morocco and Tunisia and, conversely, how a ‘non-Western’ empirical perspective can enrich and expand those theories.


Thus, this paper does not aim at developing a separate theory for ‘non-Western’ immigration policy-making. This would be at odds with the established insight in political science of approaching political systems as a continuum, as well as with the variety of political systems around the world. One only has to think of the recent authoritarian past of some European countries such as Spain or Greece, or of large democracies in the ‘non-Western’ world such as India or Brazil to bust this binary (di)vision of the world into ‘democratic, Western’ and ‘non-democratic, non-Western’ polities. Instead, by exploring how the structure of the polity, in terms of state-society relations and the workings of the political system, influences immigration policy-making, this paper seeks to offer a more ‘universal’ understanding of immigration policy processes. Herewith, this paper hopes to contribute to the ongoing efforts in the social sciences to redress the still prevalent ‘Western’ bias and to bridge immigration and public policy theories.

Opening the “black box” of Emigrant Policy Administration. A Study of 22 countries of Latin America and the Caribbean

Luicy Pedroza - luicy.pedroza@giga-hamburg.de - German Institute of Global and Area Studies - Germany

Across the globe, there are different configurations of agencies that design and implement emigrant policies at home and abroad, yet few analyses of what these different configurations imply for the capability of states to develop policies that effectively serve their emigrants. With data on 22 Latin American and Caribbean countries, this paper takes a theory building approach and looks at the existing configurations of structures that deal with emigrant policies, that is, the policies by which states of origin engage with and establish links to their diaspora. The analysis of such (innovative) configurations is relevant, and quite particularly so vis-à-vis immigration policy, due to the reach of emigrant policies beyond borders and the need for domestic coordination to adequately cater to the needs of emigrants. The reach of emigrant policies beyond borders and horizontally across policy areas places high demands on the state structure regarding the rank, coordination and implementation capacities. Furthermore, in some of the countries under study the administration of emigrant policies is a subset of migration policy administration, which means that similar resources and policy lines are followed as for immigration policy.

The different configurations reveal important differences across countries in two respects: on the one hand, issues of rank and source of authority, and on the other, an increasing division of labor in terms of different stages of emigrant policymaking: design, implementation, and consultation. From a policy perspective, the configurations seem crucial to understand the durability and applicability of emigrant policies, but also the autonomy with which they are formulated, the dynamics of horizontality they involve and the different degrees of citizen involvement that they allow in policy-making. This paper builds on classic concepts and theories of comparative public administration. Thus, besides bringing light to these innovative empirical phenomenon, this contribution will allow experts in the more established field of immigrant policy administration to contrast the conceptual apparatus used, and to weigh the degree to which immigration and emigration policy can be dealt with as a single policy field, in theory and empirically.

Migration Governance in Asia

Richa Shivakoti - rshivakoti@gmail.com - National University of Singapore - United States

This presentation will be based on my doctoral research which I will defend this summer. My research starts with a look at the global governance mechanisms in place for migration then focuses on Asian migration governance. I conclude that Asian migration governance is also a regime complex instead of a regime with many layers visible but no one institution with the authority on rules and regulations. I then focus on two sending countries: Nepal and the Philippines, as they are at very different stages of migration governance. I study their domestic migration policy sub-sector and map them using Social Network Analysis based on primary data, in addition to qualitative analysis of extensive interviews of policy makers in both countries.


Mobility within and outside of Asia has grown dramatically over several decades and new systems of migration and regional governance is emerging. Currently Asia hosts 71 million international migrants. In 2015, intra-regional migration in Asia accounted for 60% of its international migration stock. At the international level, Asia as a region may have one of the lowest ratifications on all UN covenants and conventions related to migration. By refusing to become parties to such conventions, they are not parties to established international norms and principles. At the regional level, it is also a region that does not have an established regional human rights body as other regions such as Africa, the European Union and the Americas have. It has made some progress in that regard with the formation of two sub-regional human rights bodies, for ASEAN states and for Arab states. There are also several sub-regional and intra-regional regional consultative processes (RCPs) on migration such as the Bali Process, the Colombo Process and the Abu Dhabi Process.


This scenario makes Asian migration governance of interest as on the one hand, Asian countries have refused to be a part of international migration conventions or to create a regional legal body, but on the other hand, they have made several efforts towards cooperation at a regional or sub-regional level in trying to create new norms and principles that are more applicable to their situation, but that can also be agreed on given the current differences. So we can say that Asia does not have a single migration regime but the Asian migration system can be seen as a regime complex instead. 


To understand this phenomenon better I focus on two labor sending countries: Nepal and the Philippines with extensive interviews and survey data from the migration policy subsector in both countries. I interviewed all governmental and non-governmental actors in the sector and asked them to rank different relationships through a survey. I used Social Network Analysis to then map the migration policy network at the domestic level to understand the most important actors in both countries. I also study the national policy evolution as well as institutions and other actors involvement.

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