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Looking for Loopholes

Looking for Loopholes: Processes of Incorporation of Illegal Immigrants in the Netherlands

Joanne van der Leun
Copyright Date: 2003
Pages: 232
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  • Book Info
    Looking for Loopholes
    Book Description:

    Looking for Loopholes, Processes of incorporation of illegal immigrants in the Netherlands offers a detailed account of how illegal immigrants, who are legally excluded, manage to incorporate into Dutch society. By combining the perspectives of immigrants on the one hand and of those who have to implement the 'discouragement policy' on the other hand, the study shows how tensions between restrictive rules and day-to-day practices are growing. Based on long-term research in the four largest cities in the Netherlands, attention is paid to the role of informal employment and criminal involvement and to practices in the fields of education, housing, health-care and police surveillance. This title is available in the OAPEN Library -

    eISBN: 978-90-485-0520-3
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-6)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. 7-8)
  4. 1 Incorporation of illegal immigrants and ‘internal migration control’
    (pp. 9-34)

    Governmental policies on irregular or illegal immigration are notorious for their ambiguities, as even a superficial glance at public discussions on the issue in the Netherlands can illustrate. Contentions that illegal or undocumented immigrants are not entitled to medical care alternate with messages that everybody who needs medical treatment of any kind should receive it. Representatives of municipalities openly back local initiatives to support illegal immigrants, while at the same time the national government emphasises that illegal immigrants are utterly responsible for themselves. Public assertions that there will be no regularisation schemes in the Netherlands are followed by a series...

  5. 2 Loopholes in the labour market: informal employment
    (pp. 35-58)

    Employment is the backbone of many theories on illegal immigration. Illegal immigrants are first and foremost seen as economically motivated individuals who exploit informal economic opportunities in prosperous countries. Studies on the informal economy indicate that these opportunities exist in one form or another, not just in Third World countries, but also in advanced economies (Castells and Portes 1989, Portes 1994). Economies need a certain degree of activity on the fringes to function smoothly (Jahn and Straubhaar 1999) and governments commonly tolerate at least some forms of informality. Globalisation theory, moreover, suggests that informal economic activities are recently gaining importance...

  6. 3 Crime as alternative option: illicit employment
    (pp. 59-84)

    Illegal immigrants are, as a rule, not able to build up a stable career on the Dutch labour market. The ‘legal ceiling’ not only seriously hampers upward mobility, but also leads to unemployment and underemployment. At the same time, individuals without a legal status are not entitled to income-replacing public services (see chapter 5). It is likely, therefore, that they will look for alternative options. One option is to fall back on their family members, another – on which the focus is here – is to act outside the regulatory framework. The previous chapters showed that, in addition to formal...

  7. 4 Internal surveillance in practice: the police
    (pp. 85-114)

    Illegal immigrants try to find their way into Dutch society despite the restrictions that are in part explicitly designed to stop them from doing so. In the preceding chapters, it became clear that the strategies and practices of illegal immigrants directly and indirectly interact with the official policies and regulations. After having focused on the immigrants, our attention now shifts to actors in the receiving society. In chapter 1, the decision was made to focus on implementation practices at the lower level. In this respect, our attention goes to ‘street-level bureaucrats’ in several crucial sectors (see also chapter 5). The...

  8. 5 Close encounters with the welfare state: limits of the Linking Act
    (pp. 115-154)

    The need to avoid contact with state officials and public organisations is a fact of life for illegal immigrants. After all, it is the state whose rules they are bending, skirting or violating. Yet there are instances in which even illegal immigrants may attempt to seek access to state provisions. This can be the case when certain needs, like education, housing and health care, cannot be served by immigrant networks or by employers. Secondly, it may be the case when they do not expect to be recognised as non-citizens. Welfare programmes are usually not explicitly designed with reference to illegal...

  9. 6 Summary and conclusions. Legal limits to incorporation, social limits to internal control
    (pp. 155-180)

    Newspaper delivery, office cleaning, fruit picking, dishwashing and prostitution are only some of the tasks that illegal immigrants in advanced economies nowadays engage in. The fact that these less attractive and labour-intensive economic activities are frequently taken up by illegal or undocumented immigrants – of whom according to our estimate at least 40,000 lived in the four largest Dutch cities in 1995 – illustrates the limitations of restrictive systems of migration control. Immigration has become much more fragmented and, concomitantly, more difficult to capture with policy measures than in the relatively transparent and, hence, surveyable guest worker era (Brubaker 1994,...

  10. Appendices
    (pp. 181-192)
  11. Notes
    (pp. 193-206)
  12. References
    (pp. 207-226)
  13. Index of names
    (pp. 227-230)