“Lifting the wire”: litigating for migrants’ rights in the UK

Southerden, Tom (2017) “Lifting the wire”: litigating for migrants’ rights in the UK. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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This thesis focusses on litigation for migrants’ rights in the UK, and in particular litigation conducted by lawyers and activists motivated by the cause of promoting and protecting migrants’ rights. The thesis conceptualises this form of migrants’ rights activism as ‘cause litigation’. The thesis asks the question, what happens when immigration and migrants’ rights questions are litigated for political purposes in the UK? In answering this question the thesis shows that cause litigation has in some circumstances been able to develop some highly significant forms of rights-protecting systemic change. However, the thesis also shows that cause litigation is vulnerable to adverse Executive reactions. Executive conduct in the area of immigration and migrants’ rights is governed by an overarching imperative to exercise and be seen to be exercising control. Cause litigation presents direct challenges to this imperative. In response to these challenges the Executive has engaged in both evasion and an increasingly aggressive backlash against changes secured through cause litigation and the activity of cause litigation itself. This backlash has succeeded in undermining many of cause litigation’s achievements and has ultimately diminished the role of cause litigation and the rule of law in regulating immigration control in the UK. This is not to argue that the advancements obtained through cause litigation are irrelevant; those that survive, albeit in a reduced form, are non-negligible in the otherwise highly adverse context of the UK’s immigration politics. Cause litigation is, therefore, one of the few avenues open for migrants’ rights to be protected and advanced, even if it is in a compromised and vulnerable form. It is argued, though, that an activism technique that was a response to the political disadvantage migrants’ rights campaigners face, by securing practical change without mainstream political support, has ultimately not been able to escape from the UK’s adverse immigration politics.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Law, Politics and Sociology > Law
Subjects: J Political Science > JV Colonies and colonisation. Emigration and immigration. International migration > JV6001 Emigration and immigration. International migration > JV7590 Europe
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 21 Feb 2017 14:54
Last Modified: 21 Feb 2017 14:54
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/66838

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