Immigration Policy Studies

Theoretical and Empirical Migration Researches

by Ufuk Bingöl (Volume editor)
Edited Collection 338 Pages

Table Of Content

List of Contributors

Asst. Prof. İnci Aksu Kargın

Uşak University, Turkey

Asst. Prof. Hicran Hamza Çelikyay

Düzce University, Turkey

Dr. Mehtap Yücel Bodur

Hacı Bayram Veli University, Turkey

Asst. Prof. Emre Çıtak

Hitit University, Turkey

Assoc. Prof. Zeynep Yücel

Bandırma Onyedi Eylül University, Turkey

Asst. Prof. Yavuz Kağan Yasım

Hitit University, Turkey

Asst. Prof. Atakan Durmaz

Samsun University, Turkey

Assoc. Prof. Kenan Terzioğlu

Trakya University, Turkey

Merve Öztürk

Trakya University, Turkey

Prof. Ayhan Gençler

Trakya University, Turkey

Assoc. Prof. Çiğdem Yüksel

Health Sciences University, Turkey

Asst. Prof. Didem Ayhan

Bandırma Onyedi Eylül University, Turkey

Asst Prof. Neşe Mercan

Bilecik Şeyh Edebali University, Turkey

Dr. Melike Çallı Kaplan

İstanbul, Turkey

Asst. Prof. Eylem Beyazıt

Hatay Mustafa Kemal University, Turkey

Asst. Prof. Banu Yaman Ortaş

Trakya University, Turkey

Asst. Prof. Hayrettin Şahin

Sinop University, Turkey

Asst. Prof. Kemal Çiftyıldız

Bandırma Onyedi Eylül University, Turkey

Assoc. Prof. Erhan Örselli

Necmettin Erbakan University, Turkey

Lect. Veysel Babahanoğlu

Düzce University, Turkey

Asst. Prof. Neslihan Arslan

Bandırma Onyedi Eylül University, Turkey

Dr. Eren Alper Yılmaz

Aydın Adnan Menderes University, Turkey

←15 | 16→

Prof. Kerem Karabulut

Atatürk University, Turkey

Assoc. Prof. Ali Kemal Çelik

Ardahan University, Turkey

Asst. Prof. Dilek Özdemir

Atatürk University, Turkey

Lect. Kübra Karakuş

Muş Alparslan University, Turkey

Asst. Prof. Cemile Şahin

Bandırma Onyedi Eylül University, Turkey

İnci Aksu Kargın

What is Required of a Welfare State?: A Comparison of the Migration Policies Employed in Both Turkey and Europe with Regard to Syrian Refugees

1 Introduction

Migration, which has significantly affected humans throughout the world since time immemorial, is shaped via a variety of motives such as an increase in armed clashes between different factions within a state, the corruption of state institutions, environmental problems, world transformation brought about through globalization, citizens being denied democratic rights, and ethnic and racial-oriented conflicts (Taran, 2001). Recent times have played witness to what has been referred to as the worst humanitarian disaster since the Second World War, which was prompted by the Bashar al Assad regime employing disproportionate violence against protestors in the Syrian town of Daraa in March 2011. This crisis has in turn resulted in Syrian refugees questioning how migration is and will continue to shape their existence in the world at large. Syria’s pre-war population totaled 22 million, but clashes between parties in the country have resulted in 6.2 million internally displaced people (UNHCR, 2019b) and 5.6 million Syrian citizens seeking shelter in neighboring countries, including Turkey, primarily, as well as Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, and Egypt. At present, as the war in Syria enters into its eighth year, Turkey hosts 3.6 million of the 5.6 million Syrian refugees displaced via war (UNCHR, 2019a). While Turkey has taken in the majority of Syrian refugees, other neighboring countries have shouldered the burden of taking in the remaining Syrian citizens fleeing war, and most of Europe has sought to keep the crisis as far away from its borders as possible. To this end, Europe has extended offers of financial aid to the countries hosting the refugees (Unutulmaz, Sirkeci, and Utku, 2017). From the time the crisis began, Turkey approached the Syrian refugees and the problems they faced as temporary, which meant that country expected the Syrians to seek refuge within Turkey’s borders for a relatively short time, but the civil war in Syria seems to be without end. As such, Turkey must begin to pursue long-term policies aimed at the social and economic integration of the Syrian refugees. This academic study assesses the ways in which both Turkey and the European Union have approached the Syrian ←19 | 20→refugee crisis in terms of welfare state provisions. The current study also offers recommendations regarding the steps both parties should undertake in order to transform this humanitarian crisis into a situation that is more beneficial and less potentially risky to those involved.

1.1 Welfare States and the Risks Posed to Them via the Migration Movements

The relationship that exists between the welfare state and migration has been widely discussed in recent years (van Oorschot, 2008). The welfare state, as a concept, embodies a structure that forms a border so as to determine who is and who is not a citizen and therefore who does and who does not automatically benefit from state resources that result from the associated welfare system (Freeman, 1986). Since nation-state boundaries and domestic resources often result from hard-fought battles, the primary purpose of the welfare state is to protect these things from potential external threats. A central tenet of the welfare states calls for justice via the redistribution of welfare by taking from the wealthy to ensure that welfare is distributed to the needy and most vulnerable; this may be referred to as the Robin Hood philosophy (Barr, 1998). However, even though welfare states generally strive to protect their national borders, millions of individuals abandon their homelands and, through migration, may erode the borders of nation-states. Migratory movements may serve to disquiet these welfare states and affect their sustainability as they can result in economic, security, and socio-cultural risks, which may prompt the states to close their borders even to claims for asylum.

2 The Assessment of Migration Policies Employed in Turkey and Europe Regarding the Syrian Refugees in terms of Different Variables

2.1 Turkey and Europe’s Approaches to the Migration of Syrian Refugees from a Security Perspective in the Context of the Welfare State

When considered in the context of security, a primary aim of all welfare states is to protect the country’s national borders from potential external threats. The protection of a state’s national borders is of vital importance not just in terms of the maintenance of public order but also in terms of preserving citizens trust. The erosion of a welfare state’s national borders may bring about a number of issues such as the state losing sovereignty over its borders, and public order being ←20 | 21→spoiled (Carens, 1987). In addition, often, welfare states may have too little information regarding who the newcomers are and why they want to enter a given country, and this is another reason as to why welfare states have been wary in terms of refugees and security (Gibney, 2004).

The primary risk associated with migration and asylum movements in terms of the security of a welfare state is the prospect of refugees, for example, encouraging more and more people to migrate into the state and perhaps gradually erode the state’s borders (Gibney, 2004). For instance, beginning in March 2011, when the events that led to war began in Syria, the Turkish government stated that it would implement an open-door policy with regard to the Syrian refugees. However, the psychological limit was determined to be 100,000 refugees, and when number of incoming refugees continued to increase, Turkey wanted to create a security zone in Syria (Ferris and Kirişçi, 2016).

While Turkey, in accordance with both the international agreements to which it is party and the humanitarian viewpoint, generously opened its borders to the Syrian refugees, the migration policy the country implemented prompted new migration and asylum influxes. For instance, the clashes between ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) and opponent factions in 2014, as well as the increase in attacks aimed at civilians, resulted in Iraqi citizens seeking asylum from Turkey; the number of asylum seekers was initially between 40,000 and 50,000, and it later reached between 240,000 and 250,000 (Ferris and Kirişçi, 2016: 36–37). Further, beginning in the first quarter of 2018, a new Afghan migration movement took root, with its participants seeking to make their way into Turkey (Kasapoğlu, 2018). In particular, the increasing clashes in Afghanistan and the insecure environment, the increasing deterioration in the economy, and the country’s high unemployment rates prompted Afghan citizens to seek to Turkey in hopes of ultimately reaching Europe. Although the migration of the Syrians and, later, the Iraqis and Afghanis is largely the result of Turkey’s generous migration policy, it is also a sign of the erosion of Turkey’s borders.

Unlike Turkey, with its generous migration policy, European countries have approached the Syrian migration movement with increased border security so as to protect their welfare states. The main reasons regarding why European Union states have approached migration movements and pursuits of asylum as security issues have to do with risks associated with domestic security, cultural unity, and the operation of welfare systems within European societies (Huysmans, 2000). Although European countries viewed emigration positively during the 1950s and 1960s, as they sought to use foreigners as labor, which their economies needed, they began abandoning this outlook during the late 1960s and 1970s; from that point, they began to perceive migration as a security problem that has to be ←21 | 22→solved (Huysmans, 2000). In response to seeing migration as a security issue, European countries began implementing solutions in the form of, for example, the Third Pillar on Justice and Home Affairs, the Schengen Agreements, and the Dublin Convention (Huysmans, 2000). These regulations sought to discourage illegal migrants from entering Europe.

European Union member states approached the Syrian refugees just as they had come to approach refugees from elsewhere; that is, they saw the refugees as a risk and sought to keep them out of Europe (Hristova, 2017). Once the Syrian crisis began, some European countries granted resettlement to the Syrian refugees, but they only allowed relative few refugees to resettle in Europe, and to keep others out, most European countries enhanced border controls, fought harder against migrant smuggling, and built fences along the borders. Most Countries’ were determined to do what they felt necessary to keep the refugees out of Europe rather than to apply right-based approaches. For instance, the European Migration Agenda, which was implemented in May 2015, sought to decrease the illegal migration aimed at Europe as much as possible, strengthen the border controls, decrease migrant and refugee deaths, and implement a unified migration regime among European countries (Carrera, Blockmans, Gros, and Guild, 2015: 3–4). Further, FRONTEX which was founded in 2004 with the aim of generating unity in the migration and asylum regulations of European Union member states, and securitization of the external borders of the European Union against illegal entries (Léonard, 2010), tightened border checks further in response to the increased illegal crossings into European countries (Orchard and Miller, 2014).

However, since the refugee crisis began, the European states had resorted to a number of legal regulations in order to deter the refugees from entering into Europe illegally; while European borders were closed, as expected, the Turkish border remained open. Some refugees and immigrants who did not see a long-term future for themselves in Turkey and who believed that they might have better opportunities in Europe, have been willing to risk their lives in the dangerous waters of the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas so that they might reach these countries. For instance, according to the Dublin Regulation, the European Union member country that receives the first asylum application is responsible for the management of the asylum process. However, when European countries like Greece and Italy, which are closer to the region of crisis than the Western European countries, became more exposed to refugee influxes, and their borders began to erode, they violated the Dublin Regulation on occasion, as they allowed the flow of refugees to enter Europe’s interior (Park, 2015). Moreover, the Hungarian government, as a result of 102,000 illegal migrants arriving at ←22 | 23→the state’s borders between January and July 2015, built fences along the border (Park, 2015: 7), and this served to shift the refugee flows away from the Hungary-Serbian border and toward Slovenia (Trauner, 2016).

Another security problem that the asylum and migration movements bring out in terms of welfare states is the migrant smuggling problem, and along with the emergence of Syrian refugee issue, the migrant smuggling in Mediterranean and Aegean Seas worsened. The migrant smuggling problem has not been a problem only for the lives of the migrants, but it has also caused the individuals who mediate this action to violate the border regulations of nation-states, gain illegal income from this deed, and undermine the relevant welfare states to operate properly.

Along with the Syrian refugee crisis, the number of individuals who committed migrant smuggling in Turkey increased gradually, and while the number of migrant smugglers arrested in 2014 was 1,506, this increased to 4,471 in 2015 (Sirkeci, 2017: 133). Turkey announced that beginning March 2015, the country had suspended the open-door policy except as it pertained to emergency health cases, an this was the result of increased asylum claims (Crawley, Düvell, Jones, McMahon, and Sigona, 2016). Still, some Syrian refugees continue to enter Turkey via illegal routes with the help human smugglers (Crawley et al., 2016). Moreover, it has not been only Syrians who have held out hope of reaching Europe via the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas; Afghan migrants who entered Turkey illegally have also sought to reach Europe via the waters. In particular, since the first quarter of 2018, the number of illegal Afghan immigrants and refugees who seek to enter Turkey with fake documents and trucks gradually increased, as people began to think of Turkey as a corridor by which to reach Europe.

Immigrants and refugees have attempted these perilous journeys in hopes of building new lives in developed countries – primarily Europe. This has resulted in thousands of lost lives, as people have drowned in the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas. Europe’s measures aimed at keeping migrants away from its external borders have played an escalating role in refugees and immigrants choosing to resort to other hazardous routes (Cosgrave et al., 2016).

While Europe takes restrictive measures to deter illegal migrant entries across its borders, during the first nine months of 2015, the number of individuals seeking to get into Europe reached 464,000 according to the IOM (as cited in Park, 2015: 12). Both the rising immigrant and refugee casualties in the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas and the illegal migration toward the European countries, as well as the ever-worsening migrant smuggling problem, pushed European Union member countries to negotiate with Turkey in order to develop ←23 | 24→a new solution to address the growing problems. This resulted in a Joint Action Plan, which was implemented on November 29, 2015, and it serves to address the needs of both Turkey and the refugees to whom it serves as host, and it also seeks to impede illegal entries into Europe (Collett and Le Coz, 2018). Moreover, on March 20, 2016, a new collaborative agreement was signed between the parties regarding border security; this agreement seeks to prevent immigrants and refugees from entering Europe by Turkey to Greece via illegal routes (Baban, Ilcan, and Rygiel, 2017). This agreement also addresses the facilities of migrant smugglers who mediate these entries. The agreement states that for each immigrant or refugee who passes over Turkey to Greece via illegal routes and is subsequently returned to Turkey, a Syrian refugee will be resettled in one of the EU countries, as long as the number of individuals resettled does not exceed 72,000 (Amnesty International, 2016). Further, in addition to the 3 billion euros, which are to be given to Turkey in order prevent illegal travel to Europe, the agreement states that an additional 3 billion euros in foreign aid will be provided (BBC Türkçe, 2016). However, although the plan had been effective in decreasing the number of migrants who arrived at Europe via illegal routes (Bordignon and Moriconi, 2017), it has been subject to criticism, as it seems to use refugees as bargaining chips (Ferris and Kirişçi, 2016).

Finally, another security problem created via the Syrian crisis that served to affect the welfare systems in both Turkey and European countries had to do with the authority gap in Syria that gave rise to terror organizations’ newly formed spheres of influence. For instance, after the civil war in Syria began, the radical terror organization ISIS, which became more problematic in the region beginning in 2013, executed twelve bloody terror acts in Turkey, and as a result, 211 Turkish citizens lost their lives (Çakır, 2016). In addition, with the goal of establishing a Kurdish state, the terrorist groups PKK/PYD gained some of the regions in northern Syria, which prompted the Turkish government to carry out cross-border military operations to the north of Syria (i.e., Fırat Kalkanı in 2016, Zeytindalı in 2018). The main goal of both operations was to weaken the PKK/PYD settlements in the region, prevent the formation of a Kurdish state, provide border security, form security zones, and provide voluntary repatriation of some Syrian refugees.

As for European states, the attack on Charlie Hebdo in France on January 7, 2015, caused the European countries to take into consideration the ISIS factor in the region for its own safety (Pirinççi, 2015). After the Paris attack, the attacks that were committed in Brussels and Nice encouraged gradually intensified feelings of Islamphobia in Europe. Further, after the attack in Paris, arson attacks were organized against the immigrant and refugee camps in the Calais region ←24 | 25→of France (Campbell, 2015), police operations were carried out against some Muslim men who were considered suspect, and to prevent illegal entries into the EU countries, the interior and justice ministers of EU countries assembled and decided to strengthen their surveillance systems (De Genova, 2017: 13). Finally, unlike most of the European countries’ leaders, German Chancellor Angela Merkel provided shelter to hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees in Germany, but her approach agitated some German citizens. Further, Merkel’s open-door policy prompted some citizens to remove their support for certain parties, such as AfD, in the elections and to engage in anti-immigrant discourse (Byrd, 2018).

2.2 Turkey and Europe’s Approaches to the Migration of Syrian Refugees from an Economic Perspective in the Context of the Welfare State

Today, international rivalry is strong and shapes economic stability and growth, which is itself an important factor that helps to determine whether a country can offer its citizens acceptable living standards that are fundamental to the goals of welfare states. In particular, when conducting an evaluation via an economic perspective, it is necessary to consider that natural resources are finite, and the objectives of a welfare state may be to protect state resources from potential external threats (Freeman, 1986).

If migration begins in a country where quality of life is low, then it is not unreasonable to expect that migrants from that country will economically burden any target countries. The just redistribution of public revenues among a society’s citizens is among the aims of the welfare state, but these revenues and the public services that are linked to them may become overburdened with the arrival of foreigners to the state. This may then result in citizens taking a dim view of their government and its ability to govern effectively. For instance, if the host country citizens are discontent with the idea that public revenues, which are collected via the taxation of the citizens in question, will also be used to meet the needs of foreigners, the citizens might resort to tax evasion that will effectively undermine the country’s welfare system (Crepaz, 2008).

In examining the economic impact of migratory movements to states, one might find that migrants have caused the price of labor to fall (Kreibaum, 2014) in some business sectors and have led to an increase in unemployment among the country’s citizens who work in the shadow labor market.

With regard to the Syrian refugees in Turkey, specifically, it is apparent that the refugees’ presence has affected Turkey’s economy. For instance, the citizens ←25 | 26→who live in the border provinces, which is where the majority of Syrian refugees prefer to live as well due to their proximity to Syria, regard the Syrian refugees as being responsible for increases in unemployment and rents (Aksu Kargın, 2018). In particular, the Syrian refugees’ willingness to work for lower wages in the shadow labor market has resulted in layoffs among Turkish citizens who work in this market (Esen and Oğuş Binatlı, 2017; Aksu Kargın, 2018).

In spite of the fact that the Turkish government granted the Syrians work permits on January 15, 2016, in order to ensure their legal participation in the Turkish labor market and prevent employers from exploiting their labor, the majority of Syrian refugees’ livelihoods are dependent on Turkey’s labor-intensive sectors. The number of Syrian refugees who work legally in proportion to total refugee population is very low (Mülteciler Derneği, 2018), and according to the provisions of the legal work permits granted to the refugees, the Syrians being employed only to do work that the Turkish citizens cannot do means that the impact of the Syrian refugees is marginal to the Turkish citizens who work legally. However, although the majority of Syrian refugees work in Turkey illegally and have negatively affected those citizens who work in labor-intensive sectors (Ceritoğlu, Gürcihan Yüncüler, Torun, and Tümen, 2017), the refugees also contribute to the increase of production and consumption both by participating in the production chain and satisfying their consumer needs via the Turkish market (Aksu Kargın, 2016). In addition, with the arrival of the Syrians, the number of foreign businesses in Turkey increased. There were 1,256 Syrian businesses in Turkey by 2014, where the Syrian business owner had a Turkish partner (Ferris and Kirişçi, 2016: 43); if the Syrian businesses in Turkey that operate unofficially are counted as well, this number totals more than 10,000 (Ceylan, 2015).

Finally, when assessed in terms of the welfare system, one of the most crucial impacts of this mass asylum movement has to do with big sums being spent by the Turkish government on Syrian refugees’ needs. Records indicate that, as of October 2018, 178, 965 people live among the 20 camps established along the Turkish-Syrian border; the majority of these individuals were Syrian (AFAD, 2018). The camps provide a number of services and tangibles to the refugees (i.e., healthcare services, education services, shelter, nourishment, psychosocial support services, vocational training courses) to the Syrians, and the Turkish government pays for all of this (Baban et al., 2017). Former Turkish Health Minister Recep Akdağ stated in a speech given in December 2017 that Turkey had spent over $30.2 billion on the Syrian refugees (Gültekinler, 2017).

Although the majority of Syrian refugees live outside the camps, some Syrian refugees still benefit from the assistance they receive from international and local ←26 | 27→aid organizations. Before the arrival of the refugees, low-income Turkish citizens were able to benefit from the civil society organizations alone; however, the changing state of affairs caused these Turkish citizens and the Syrian refugees to fight for the same resources, and this strained the budgets of the civil society organizations seeking to meet the needs of both groups. Additionally, when looking at welfare state provisions, one can reason that if the refugees had not settled in Turkey, then state funds that have been spent on the refugees would have instead been spent on or invested in the public, which would have elevated Turkey in terms of both employment and production. The problems associated with the shift in state revenues are especially apparent when taking into consideration the refugee camps. The Turkish government spends a considerable amount on the camps, and the refugees who reside in them are unable to contribute to the economy; this prompts the Turkish citizens to view these refugees as burdens to the state that benefit from without giving back to the country’s welfare system. Further, by making public healthcare and education services available to the Syrian refugees, the government effectively caused a strain in the welfare state that resulted in citizens being less satisfied with the services they received (Aksu Kargın, 2016). The healthcare and education services are among the most fundamental human rights and no one is deprived of these rights, but once the welfare system became strained, some citizens felt as though they were being forced to do without these fundamental services. For instance, in order to increase the schooling rate of Syrian children in Turkey and to ensure that they receive the same quality of education the Turkish children receive, more classes and teachers became necessary (Sirkeci, 2017). In addition, the healthcare service quality declined especially after the Syrian refugees arrived to Turkey, and this was especially true in the border provinces due to physicians needing to take the time to examine an increased number of patients (Aksu Kargın, 2018). Although the majority of the financial aid the EU began offering to Turkey was transformed into investments that could be used to enhance the Syrian refugees access to healthcare and education services (Batalla and Tolay, 2018), it disturbed some Turkish citizens that they had to continue to share public services with the Syrians. This has prompted the Turkish citizens to believe that the Syrians’ arrival has negatively affected the country’s welfare system.

In terms of economics, the EU countries’ approaches to migration suggest that they perceive migration to be a threat to their welfare systems. The main reason behind this perception is the fear that any spending and aid allocated to newcomers will result in a poorly operating welfare system in the long run (van Oorschot, 2008). This can be referred to as welfare chauvinism, which suggests that a state’s citizens, all of whom are priority in terms of state-provided ←27 | 28→benefits, will perceive newcomers to the state, who will also receive benefits, as rivals in terms of consumption of public goods (Huysmans, 2000). Further, this posits that as the state is required to spread its resources around more than usual, employment and social opportunities normally available to citizens might lessen. Therefore, the majority of European countries sought to contain the Syrian refugee problem within the borders of the neighbor host states, thereby keeping refugees as far from Europe’s borders as possible, and they did this by offering financial aid to the host countries. For instance, in 2014, the Regional Trust Fund in response to the Syrian crisis was generated in order to allow refugee-hosting states to better manage the refugee crisis financially with the support of EU countries (European Commission, 2014). According to the EU states’ point of view, they have valid reasons regarding their welfare system provisions for their unwillingness to host more Syrian refugees in their borders. For example, since the EU states have to offer acceptable levels of living standards to their citizens, and the living standards of the Syrian refugee-hosting states are relatively lower than the European standards (Dimitrov and Angelov, 2017), if Europe offered protection to high numbers of refugees in its borders, like the neighboring countries have, the financial expenditures would be overwhelming, which might cause issues for their welfare systems. Further, should Europe open its borders to the refugees, the number of Syrian refugees who will claim asylum from Europe will increase, this will cause a serious problem for the EU welfare system since the EU states will be unable to provide employment for all newcomers. In addition, the welfare levels of all EU member countries are not equivalent; therefore, their economic responses to this crisis vary. For instance, European countries like Italy and Spain fight against high unemployment rates (Dimitrov and Angelov, 2017). As noted previously, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Slovenia have displayed reluctance regarding the Syrian refugee problem, and they have claimed that their economies are not capable of carrying the burden of the refugees (Heisbourg, 2015). They have also stated that problems might develop within their societies if they were to take in refugees (Heisbourg, 2015).

Finally, some Syrian refugees were forced to interrupt their studies when fleeing Syria, and should European borders become open to these people, it will be necessary for the various European governments to provide the refugees with education. If appropriate education is not provided to these people, not only will the integration of the refugees into the labor market suffer, but it will also be difficult to integrate them in terms of social life, and the risk will increase that the refugees will be recruited by the terror organizations (Dimitrov and Angelov, 2017).

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2.3 Turkey and Europe’s Approaches to the Migration of Syrian Refugees from a Socio-cultural Perspective in the Context of the Welfare State

Per a socio-cultural context, that the migrants possess a culture and speak a language other than those associated with the host country may be unsettling to the host country’s citizens, as citizens may fear that the migrants might threaten the cultural unity and national interests of the host. In addition, though it is evident that integrating the refugees into the host society will likely benefit all parties, it can be difficult to know how to facilitate integration, which can result in many welfare states feeling wary regarding migration. This wariness can in turn result in welfare states opting not to serve as hosts to foreigners, even if those foreigners are victims of war and in need of asylum.

When assessed in this context, the number of Turkish citizens who believe that the Syrians are socioculturally different than themselves and that the existence of Syrians in Turkey poses a threat to the country’s public order is undeniably high (Man, 2016). In fact, this situation, which derives primarily from a lack of interaction between the parties due to language differences, has implications regarding not only Turkish adults but also regarding relations between Turkish children and Syrian refugee children (Aksu Kargın, 2016). However, at present, although the Turkish citizens feel discontent regarding the Syrian refugees and are concerned about the refugees’ continued presence in Turkey, this discontent has not yet transformed into any large-scale social conflict.

When examining European states’ attitudes regarding migration and how it affects countries’ socio-cultural contexts, it becomes apparent that Islamphobia, which became more prominent in Europe beginning in the 1990s, has helped to shape Europe’s cultural views (Crepaz, 2008). In particular, countries throughout Europe have been concerned about how the mass influx of groups (namely Muslims) whose religions and cultures are different from those of the European countries themselves might threaten the Europeans’ cultural unity. Additionally, issues that European states have experienced in their attempts to integrate newcomers in earlier migration movements (Freeman, 1995) have left the European states concerned that they may be unsuccessful in their attempts to integrate groups that enjoy different religions or cultures. Thus, since the beginning of the Syrian refugee crisis, some European states have expressed that they do not look positively on granting resettlement in a socio-cultural context, as they fear that Muslim refugees might threaten their cultural unity and religious homogeneity. For instance, Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban claimed that since the majority of the Syrian refugees were Muslim, opening Europe to them ←29 | 30→might spoil the homogenous fabric of Hungary and Europe’s Christian identity (Traynor, 2015). The Slovenian government, in its official statement, also stated that it could grant protection to only 200 Syrian refugees and only if they were Christian (Tharoor, 2015). Further, the government claimed that if Slovenia were to shelter more Syrian refugees, then those refugees would eventually build their own mosques and begin to threaten the religious homogeneity of Slovenia (Tharoor, 2015).

There is another matter to address with regard to how Europe has approached granting protection to refugees who are socioculturally different from them. Bansak, Hainmueller, and Hangartner (2016) conducted a study involving 18,000 voters in 15 European countries, revealed that European citizens have a positive outlook regarding and are more accepting of asylum seekers who are educated and/or possess skills and are Christians rather than Muslim. This suggests that perhaps European citizens want to live together with individuals who they believe will not burden or overtax their welfare systems and who might even contribute while not posing a threat to Europe’s cultural unity.

3 Recommendations

Each individual’s right to live freely and with dignity is of concern to and adds to the respective burdens of the welfare states from which these individuals seek asylum; however, the socio-economic and cultural problems that are often associated with unknown foreigners create considerable dilemmas among today’s welfare states. Today, as the Syrian war enters into its eighth year, the extant political climate effectively prevents the mass voluntary repatriation of the refugees in the short term, which is a signal to Turkey that the country needs to develop policies aimed at integrating the Syrian refugees into Turkish society in terms of both economics and a socio-cultural context.

When the issue is examined in terms of economics, it becomes clear that the presence of Syrian refugees in Turkey has resulted in decreased wages and unemployment in the shadow labor market. However, if viable integration policies are pursued, it is possible for Turkey to realize the benefits of the asylum movement. In addition, although there exist problems between Turkish employers and Syrian workers, as the Syrian refugees remain longer in Turkey, they will become increasingly inclined to do what is necessary to demand and protect their rights in the workplace, which will result in more conflict between the Turkish employers and Syrian workers. As such, it will become increasingly important to identify skills among the Syrian refugees able to work because it is through skill identification that these workers will be able to assume positions ←30 | 31→among the business branches of the Turkish labor market where there is a need for employees. Further, once Syrians are working for Turkish employers legally, have the proper insurance, and are collecting proper wages, Turkey will benefit, as these workers will serve as sources of tax revenue for the country, which will in turn allow for a strengthened welfare system.

Secondly, a considerable number of Syrian regular and informal businesses exist in Turkey. Although these businesses contribute to the production chain in Turkey, the government is unable to tax them, which results in the businesses engaging in unjust rivalry with the Turkish businesses that do pay taxes. In addition, by depriving the welfare system of additional tax revenue that would go on to address the needs of the public via investments and various expenditures, these businesses ultimately serve to undermine the goals of the welfare system. Therefore, it would seem a reasonable and beneficial solution, at this point, to ease the bureaucratic requirements a bit in order to encourage the Syrians operating informal businesses to register their businesses such that they could become regular sources of tax revenue for the Turkish government. This, along with the ability of Turkish investors to help bolster these Syrian businesses would further enhance Turkey’s welfare system.

Additionally, although the majority of Syrian refugees in Turkey lives outside of the camps and provide for their own livelihoods, the government has made spending on both the camps and the Syrian refugees in general visible to the Turkish citizens who are concerned about why they are effectively carrying the refugee burden alone. The refugees in the camps share their living space with people who are war victims like themselves, and because the camps allow for relatively limited individual freedom, something that is a natural right, the Syrians in the camps are less able to overcome the trauma and fear that are the products of war. As such, it is important to take steps to aid these individuals in integrating into social and economic life in Turkey. This would necessitate gradual closure of the refugee camps. In particular, employment opportunities should be made available among relevant fields, and vocational training should be offered to those living in the camps. In addition, Turkey should expand its efforts to increase international aid and to make this aid more readily visible to Turkish citizens; this is important, as it will help to let the citizens know that Turkey is not alone in its management of this particular crisis (Ferris and Kirişçi, 2016).

In terms of socio-economics, should the Syrian refugees become permanent residents in Turkey, it is imperative that actions be carried out to promote their integration into Turkish society sooner rather than later. Although, to date, there have been no large-scale conflicts between the parties, there is no guarantee regarding what the future may hold. Preventing conflict would require the ←31 | 32→Syrians to integrate, of course, but it would also call for media to more positively shape or influence citizen perception of the Syrians. For example, if media outlets were to place greater emphasis on Syrian refugees’ positive contributions to Turkish society, and if social projects and activities were developed to enhance daily interactions between Turkish citizens and Syrian refugees, a sort of cultural and social harmony between the two groups might result.

When examined in the context of national security, it is evident that Turkey’s generous migration policy as it relates to Syrian refugees has encouraged new asylum claims and has also served to gradually erode Turkey’s borders. It is thus important that the Turkish government strengthen its border security to curb illegal crossing and to lessen the risks of terror-affiliated subjects entering the country. For instance, enhancing surveillance systems, building fences, and training officers who are responsible for enforcing border security are steps that can be carried out to strengthen border security (Koser, 2005), and some of this can be achieved via EU countries’ increased financial and technical support, as these countries are obligated to assist Turkey in order to protect their own borders as well as the Turkish border.

Although, the Turkish government has called on Europe to share in the burden of aiding the refugees, as this would both lift some of the burden that has been placed on Turkey’s welfare system and promote more humane treatment of the refugees, Europe has not responded as expected. Not only did the EU countries not develop durable solutions to help manage the refugee crisis at its outset, but they also helped shape host countries’ asylum policies such that refugees would effectively be contained within the non-European host countries while the European countries would offer financial assistance. In particular, when one takes a closer look, it becomes evident that few Syrian refugees benefited from opportunities associated with resettlement and humanitarian protection programs. This has primarily to do with the potential political and security risks linked to EU countries granting resettlement rights to a high number of refugees (Orchard and Miller, 2014). In addition, since the resettlement process is costly, the existing EU resources might be insufficient to fund a comprehensive resettlement process (Orchard and Miller, 2014). While some EU states such as Germany and Sweden have provided direct protection to a relatively high number of Syrian refugees, many other member countries have opted to manage the process by providing funds to the host states such as Turkey. Still, others have contributed by engaging in rescue operations aimed at aiding Syrian refugees trying to travel via the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas; these rescue operations serve to both save the refugees’ lives and prevent them from entering Europe.

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However, since the respective welfare systems of the EU countries are in better condition than the Turkish welfare system, it is not a reasonable or sustainable solution for the EU countries to resettle so few refugees while providing financial aid to host countries like Turkey in effort to keep the bulk of Syrian refugees away from Europe’s borders. Turkey already has its own socio-economic (i.e., high rates of unemployment and inflation) and security (i.e., PKK and FETÖ) problems that must be addressed. Turkey’s welfare system is strained and is not sufficient such that it can endure and provide for refugees to enjoy dignified lives within the country’s borders long-term. The majority of EU countries approached the Syrian refugee crisis in terms of the risks it presented regarding security, economics, and social contexts, and thus closed their borders to the refugees in order to protect their welfare systems; this solution will prove to be woefully insufficient if the problems of the host states and refugees are not addressed. Further, this will distort of the image of the European countries, which claim to be defenders of human rights and equality. Therefore, the EU countries should both increase the financial assistance it provides to the refugee host countries – especially Turkey – and grant resettlement to more Syrian refugees; these should serve as conditional steps that would allow for more equal burden sharing.

Although the refugees burden their host states by, for example, straining public services and depleting investments aimed at increasing access to education among refugee children, language education, and financial aid, viable policies can be implemented that would encourage integration among refugees, and this would in turn positively impact the host countries via increased tax revenue, pension support, and needed labor, as there is demand in some business sectors that is not currently being met (Kancs and Lecca, 2018). Implementing steps to encourage refugees to integrate into Turkish society is important and would benefit Turkish institutions as well as the country in general, and this can be achieved more readily with the financial aid and technical support of various international organizations, the EU members states, and the international and national civil society organizations. Though some host states are concerned that facilitating integration like this might prompt more refugees to remain in the host countries longer or on a permanent basis, there is nothing to necessarily suggest that this is the case or that the refugees would not still seek to return to their home country once they are able. Not encouraging integration of Syrian refugees into, for example, Turkish society might, however, result in some refugees continuing to feel isolated and fearful, and this could in turn result in those refugees being more susceptible to terrorist organization recruitment practices, which would present security, economic, and social risks for welfare states like Turkey and European Union member states.

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Finally, if the states that are involved in political or military processes or that give support to either the proponents or opponents of the regime in Syria choose not to pursue a solution aimed at addressing the root cause of the problem at hand, then migration and terrorism will persist in both Turkey and Europe. As such, it is of vital importance that all actors – primarily the United States, Russia, Turkey, and the EU countries – that have assumed a role in either military or political processes in Syria take steps to end Syria’s humanitarian disaster.


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Hicran Hamza Çelikyay

Migration Management and Municipalities in the Context of Urban Refugees: Legal and Administrative Approach1

1 Introduction

While signing international conventions and protocols to determine the obligations of asylum seekers and refugees in their relations with other countries, Turkey has regulated the national legal and administrative legislation in order to establish migration management, policies, and strategies at the same time.

1951 Geneva Convention and the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees can be listed as framework agreements that determine Turkey’s international obligations. In addition, the studies oriented towards legal and administrative legislation related to migration management involves the period that was initiated with the 2005 Turkish National Action Plan for the Adoption of the EU Acquis in the Field of Asylum and Migration.

Turkey has been facing influx of refugees with 3.5 million Syrians refugees since April 2011 and about 1 million from other countries, in total over 4.5 to 5 million refugees. As the presence of refugees reached around 4.5%–5% of Turkey’s population, new legislative, institutional and administrative arrangements are required. In this context, “Foreigners and International Protection Law No. 6458” was adopted on 4 April 2013, and the Directorate General of Migration Management (DGMM) was established with this law. In addition, with the Presidential Decree on the Presidential Organization published in the Official Gazette on 10 July 2018, some of the Presidential Committees’ missions were established as determining and following up on the immigration policies and strategies of Turkey.

Turkey provides “temporary protection” for refugees. The number of registered Syrians in Turkey was determined to be 3.585.738 people as of October 10, 2018, by the Directorate General of Migration Management. 177.376 people are staying in temporary refuge centers, and 3.408.362 people are living in urban ←39 | 40→areas. About 95% of the refugees are dispersed in 81 provinces of Turkey and are known as “urban refugees”. Meeting the needs of refugees within the city, such as their health conditions, ensuring safe living conditions, their basic needs, and ensuring their adaptation to the environment are the challenges and responsibilities of the local governments and, to a larger extent, municipalities.

2 Conceptual Framework

The need for mechanisms to create migration policies and strategies, the lack of legislation, the increasing momentum of the problems in the recent years that have to be solved have made it necessary to build a comprehensive migration policy and legislation as well as an institutional structure. In this context, reconsidering and broadly defining the conceptual framework is necessary in order to have a healthy conduct and appropriate boundaries for these efforts of building. In this section, some concepts in Law No. 6458 will be briefly discussed.

2.1 Secondary Protection Status

The “Secondary Protection Status” is given to foreign or stateless persons who are unable to qualify as refugees or conditional refugees, but who will be sentenced to death or executed with death penalty, will be subjected to torture, will get inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, will encounter serious threats in the case of armed conflict in the international or national level indiscriminately if sent back to the country of origin or the country of residence, and who cannot benefit from the protection of the country of residence or do not wish to benefit from it due to the aforementioned threat (Law No. 6458, 2013: Article 63). This status is a new definition that comes with the Law No. 6458.

2.2 Conditional Refugee, Refugee and Asylum Seeker

The “Conditional Refugee” status is given to “a person who as a result of events occurring outside European countries and owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself or herself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it” (Law No: 6458, 2013: Article 62). If the asylum seekers in Turkey do not have the special reasons for secondary ←40 | 41→status, can be accepted as conditional refugees after the status determination process.

According to Law No. 6458, a refugee is “a person who as a result of events occurring in European countries and owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his citizenship and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself or herself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it, shall be granted refugee status upon completion of the refugee status determination process” (Law No. 6458 2013: Article 61).

The lexical meaning of “asylum seeker” is a person who has remained in a foreign country for a certain period of time before their asylum (tdk.gov.tr). Persons who wish to be recognized as refugees in a country within the framework of relevant national or international instruments and await the outcome of their application for refugee status; persons who meet the criteria for becoming a refugee but who are not yet recognized as refugee status by the official authority; and those who have not submitted their application yet are defined as asylum seekers. The asylum seeker has the right to remain within the borders of the country of asylum and to be treated with humanitarian standards (Koç et al., 2015).

2.3 Migration, Migrant and Migration Management

With its broadest definition, migration is a movement from one space to another. It can also be expressed as changing of place by a person or group within a country or internationally. This movement can be temporary or permanent. Migration can be due to a multitude of reasons. It can be defined as a movement towards different areas from the original area due to the inability to provide a livelihood in the place the person is living or due to the existing socio-economic policies (Demirhan & Aslan, 2015: 25; Kara & Kara, 2015: 3).

Generally, a person who voluntarily leaves their country for better economic expectations or who is not satisfied with their current conditions that enters another country legally or illegally is defined as “migrant” (Demirhan & Aslan, 2015: 34). According to the dictionary, a migrant is an individual, a family, or a community who leave(s) their country to go to another (tdk.gov.tr).

It is recognized that the term migrant includes cases where the person concerned decides to migrate with their free will without any external force. Migrants are people who voluntarily leave their country of citizenship for economic, political, and social reasons to settle in another country (Koç et al., 2015).

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According to the Settlement Law No. 5543, Article 3, which adopted in 2006, migrants are “Those of Turkish descent and are connected with Turkish culture who come to settle in Turkey as individuals or as a group and are accepted by decree of this Law”. The law generally defines the procedures and conditions for the admittance of the people of Turkish descent to Turkey as migrants amongst people who seek asylum in Turkey because of a necessity. As per the Article 4 of the law, in order to be admitted as immigrants, foreigners coming to Turkey with the intention to settle in the country are also sought to be bound to the Turkish culture (http://www.mevzuat.gov.tr/mevzuatmetin/1.5.5543.pdf).

On the other hand, In Law No. 6458, there is no definition of migrants. There are only provisions on “seizing of vehicles used in the offense of smuggling of migrants” in the Annex Article 1 (www.mevzuat.gov.tr). Thus, in accordance with current legislation, migrancy is the situation where individual(s) of Turkish descent who are connected with Turkish culture come to settle in Turkey.

Countries’ initiatives against migrants, regulations in the legal status of the state and the policies related to migration, ensuring public safety, growth and development, prevention of brain drain, and most importantly, taking measures regarding the entry of immigrants to the country for a number of problems that may arise later, the integration of immigrants into society, and work in many other areas can be seen as part of migration management (Günay et al., 2017: 50).

3 Legal and Administrative Process before Law No. 6458

Migration management is a multidimensional issue that requires cooperation and coordination at national and international level. It is a dynamic subject that deeply concerns Turkey’s economic, socio-cultural, and demographic structure, its public order, and security (www.tbmm.gov.tr).

While analyzing the migration management, it is necessary to look at the developments in the legal and administrative process before 2013 and after the Foreigners and International Protection Law No. 6458 in 2013. Migration management in Turkey was administrated with two basic laws until the Law No. 6458 in 2013: Passport Law No. 5682 and the Law on Travel and Residence of Foreigners in Turkey No. 5683, with many different administrative arrangements alongside them.

Generally, in the period before the Law No. 6458, Foreigners Department and governorates under General Directorate of Security Affairs, which are under the Ministry of Interior, played an active role. These institutions have been responsible for migrants and asylum seekers who enter the country illegally, and also ←42 | 43→were responsible for their placement in relevant centers when necessary as well as their deportation (Kara & Kara, 2015: 10–11).

A significant momentum is observed in the studies carried out 2002 onwards. To implement regulations on migration, “Migration Working Group” was established within the scope of Task Force for Asylum, Migration, and External Boundary Protection in 2002. Migration Working Group consisted of the Turkish General Staff, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Undersecretariat of Customs, Directorate General of Security Affairs, Gendarmerie General Command, and the Coast Guard Command (Kara & Kara, 2015: 10–11).

The Labor Law No. 4857 and the Foreign Direct Investment Law No. 4875 adopted in 2003. The Strategy Document regarding the Protection of External Borders in Turkey was prepared in April 2003, Turkey’s Strategy Document on Work Envisaged to be Completed in the field of Asylum during Pre-Accession Process to European Union (Asylum Strategy Document) and Migration Strategy Document were prepared in October 2003.

Turkish National Action Plan for the Adoption of the EU Acquis in the Field of Asylum and Migration was prepared in 2005. The action plan includes the following statements on local governments:

“Integration activities should be delegated to an institution by law (…) Within this scope, local governments, employers and NGOs should be encouraged.”

“Municipalities and local governments should be equipped with authority to be able to provide integration of the refugees and deliver social assistance in the most effective way. The relevant legislation should include arrangements in this field if necessary.”.

As can be observed, it is recommended that local governments should be encouraged to integrate refugees and furthermore, they should be authorized for their work in this context. “Ministry of Interior Implementation Instructions”, which was published on June 22, 2006, was acknowledged as Turkey’s second domestic law on asylum and immigration basic regulation after the 1994 Regulations (Demirhan & Aslan, 2015). The instructions include following statements about municipalities:

“Until the applicants who need benefits, asylum seekers and refugees, are able to maintain their own lives,… the Security Directorate under the coordination of the Governor’s Office, … Municipality, … will hold a meeting with other institutions and organizations at least once a year.”

“School-age children who are in need (…), will be helped by municipalities and other Non Government Organizations in order to provide education …”

“On the other hand, adults, applicants, asylum seekers and refugees will be encouraged to participate in the Municipality, Public Education Centers, … Turkish and other language courses, and vocational and skills training courses.”

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According to the instructions, local governments were not given direct responsibility for migration management, but local governments were expected to help and contribute with the coordination of governorships. It was also stated that the participation of refugees and asylum seekers in the language, vocational, and skills-acquisition courses would be encouraged by municipalities.

4 International Agreements Acceded to before the Law No. 6458

The work carried out focused on making Turkey’s national immigration legislation compatible with international migration legislation; and in this context, Turkey was a party to various international agreements. Universal Declaration of Human Rights, accepted by the UN General Assembly in 1948, was adopted in 1949. The European Convention on Human Rights was signed in 1950 (Aliu et al., 2016).

In 1951, the Geneva Convention on the Legal Status of Refugees was signed. Turkey agreed to the 1951 Geneva Convention and the New York Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees 1967 with geographical limitation reservation in the context of “Asylum seekers of European origin”. According to these two reservations, Turkey, while giving the right to Europeans to be refugees, does not give the same right for those who come from outside Europe, and these people are given the right to asylum in until they can go to a third country (Ermumcu, 2013: 66).

Thus, asylum seekers from European countries who meet the necessary conditions are granted the “refugee” status. Those who come from outside Europe are outside the concept of “refugee”. For this reason, those coming from non-European countries, even if they have the necessary qualifications for ‘refugee’ status in accordance with the general provisions of the 1951 Convention, are considered asylum seekers and not refugees (Aliu et al., 2016: 22). In 1984, Protocol No. 7 to the European Court of Human Rights was signed. Protocol No. 12 to the European Court of Human Rights in 2000 and Protocol No. 13 to the European Court of Human Rights were signed in 2002 (http://conventions.coe.int).

5 The Law No. 6458, Migration Management and Legal Basis of Municipalities

Generally, in Turkey, there are two basic legal sources local governments in general and municipalities in particular operate with respect to refugees: The ←44 | 45→Municipality Law No. 5393, which adopted in 2005, and the Foreigners and International Protection Law No. 6458, which adopted in 2013.

5.1 Municipality Law No. 5393

Considering the Municipality Law No. 5393, which was adopted in 2005, is seen “townsmen’s law” of the Article 13 in the context of migration and migration management. In this article, which is related to townsmen’s law, municipalities are given the opportunities to serve refugees:

“Everyone is a townsman of the town in which he lives. Townsmen shall be entitled to take part in municipal decision making and services, receive information on municipal activities and benefit from the aids distributed by the municipal administration. Aids shall be provided in such a way as not to injure human dignity.” (http://www.lawsturkey.com/law/municipality-law-5393, Article 13).

It is stated that everyone is a native of the town where they reside and that all residents have the right to participate in municipal decisions and services, to be informed about the activities of the municipality and to benefit from the assistance of the municipality. According to this article, municipalities will also be able to provide their services to refugees. However, it should be noted that this provision has the prerequisite of “being a resident”.

On the other hand, Article 14 of the Law states that “citizenship” is taken as a basis in providing services after the duties and responsibilities of the municipality are listed:

“Municipal services shall be provided to the public at the nearest possible locations and by the most appropriate methods. The methods used in service provision shall be appropriate to the situation of the persons with disabilities, elderly people, the poor and those on low income” (http://www.mevzuat.gov.tr/MevzuatMetin/1.5.5393.pdf, Article 14).

According to this article, municipal services can be made available to people with a “citizen” status. Another article is Article 38, which lists the duties and powers of the mayor and sets out the rules for the mayor’s budget for aid that can be used for the poor and destitute in the district:

“Spend the budget appropriation set aside for the poor and destitute, provide services for the persons with disabilities and establish the centre for persons with disabilities” (http://www.mevzuat.gov.tr/MevzuatMetin/1.5.5393.pdf, Article 38/n).

According to this article, the mayor will be able to allocate shares from the municipal budget to those in need in the city. As can be seen, Law No. 5393 does not completely ignore the services to be provided for refugees, but does not impose any mandatory duty on municipalities either. For the municipal administrators ←45 | 46→who are engaged in planning to offer services to the refugees, Articles 13 and 14 of the law constitute a contradiction. While being a “townsman” is considered sufficient to benefit from the services provided according to Article 13, in Article 14, this is associated with being a “citizen”. In addition, the status of being a townsman in Article 13 has also been associated with residence. Therefore, the municipalities are confronted with the double responsibility of providing services for refugees both as residence (residence certification) and as citizens; this creates a reservation on the legal level.

Furthermore, Article 38 of the Law provides that the mayor can allocate funds from the budget that can be used for the poor and destitute; however, the article does not clearly specify a decision on the part of refugees. It is stated that problems may arise in such expenditures in case of a possible audit by the Court of Auditors regarding the share provided for the refugees from the budget.

5.2 Foreigners and International Protection Law No. 6458

Finally, with the entry into force of Law No. 6458 in 2014, the aims were to manage all these legal and administrative processes centrally and to ensure a stable implementation. The Law No. 6458 was adopted unanimously by all the parties in the 24th Parliament session on 4 April 2013 (www.mevzuat.gov.tr). The law is seen as an important step especially towards the repatriation process, the entry and exit procedures for Turkey, the responsibilities of different units, creating standards for illegal and irregular migration, the creating of a suitable environment for the management of human rights, and preparing space for the development of migration management (Şeker et al., 2014: 108).

Directorate General of Migration Management was established with the law; and the duties and responsibilities of the organization were detailed in the law. In addition to the Law No. 6458, Directorate General of Migration Management works in accordance with six other national laws, many regulations and international conventions, and protocols and agreements. Duties and powers of provincial and district directorates of immigration management are also regulated by the “Directorate General of Migration Management Provincial Organisation’s Establishment, Duties and Working Regulations (www.goc.gov.tr). In the Law, Article 96 of Harmonization is noteworthy when the issues related to local governments and in particular municipalities are considered. The article states:

“The Directorate General may, to the extent that Turkey’s economic and financial capacity deems possible, plan for harmonization activities in order to facilitate mutual harmonization between foreigners applicants and persons with international protection status and the society as well as to equip them with the knowledge and skills to be independently active ←46 | 47→in all areas of social life without the assistance of third persons in Turkey or in the country to which they are resettled or in their own country. For these purposes, the Directorate General may seek the suggestions and contributions of public institutions and agencies, local governments, non-governmental organisations, universities and international organisations.” The reference to the local governments in the relevant article on the issue of the harmonization of refugees is only seen as to “seek municipality’s suggestions and contributions”.

In the following part of the article, it is stated that “The Directorate General shall promote the courses related to access to public and private goods and services, access to education and economic activities, social and cultural communications, and access to primary healthcare services and, awareness and information activities through distant learning and similar means in cooperation with public institutions and agencies and non-governmental organizations.” The actors that will be cooperated with for the services to be provided are clearly mentioned as “public institutions and agencies and non-governmental organizations”, while the local governments are not specified in the implementation part.

6 Presidential Policy Committees and Migration Management

On July 10, 2018 Presidential Decree on the Presidential Organization was published in Official Gazette, explaining the Presidential government system policy committees. In addition to the general duties of the committees included in the decree, there are duties related to their specific areas. When these duties are examined, policy committees that are involved in migration management and studies can be listed as Security and Foreign Policy Committee, Social Policies Committee, and Local Government Policies Committee respectively.

According to Article 26, one of the tasks of the Presidential Security and Foreign Policy Committee is to determine the immigration policies and strategies to be followed in Turkey. According to this, the responsibilities of the board are: “To determine the immigration policies and strategies of Turkey, to follow the implementations, to monitor migration practices and make suggestions, to evaluate the new regulations planned for migration, to follow regional and international developments in the field of immigration policies and law, and to report evaluating the reflection of these developments in Turkey”

Among the duties and authorities of the Social Policies Committee listed in Article 30 are “migration and developing policy proposals for the solution of immigration problems”. In Article 31, the duties and authorities of the Local Government Policies Committee are listed. According to this, “developing policy recommendations on migration and housing issues” is one of the ←47 | 48→tasks of Local Governments Policies committee (http://www.mevzuat.gov.tr/MevzuatMetin/19.5.1.pdf).

These committees will be able to take the opinion of ministries, institutions and organizations, civil society and sector representatives, experts in the field and other interested parties while continuing their activities in this field, and they will report to the President about the activities done by giving opinions to public institutions and organizations. In general, it is observed that migration and migration management studies are involved in all three committee positions and they are assigned to develop policies. Clarification of responsibilities and duties for local governments, and determination by the Local Government Policies Committee about which aspects they are expected to be included in immigration management policies is expected.

7 Migration Studies of Municipalities

There are lots of field researches conducted after the intensive and mass migration that Turkey got. A significant portion of these are about the challenges faced by local governments, especially municipalities, the solutions they have developed in the face of the current situation, and the activities carried out for their services. There are also recommendations for legal and administrative legislation in these studies (Erdoğan, 2017; Koca et al., 2017; Woods and Kayalı, 2017).

One of the most important issues found in the field research is that the determined departments serving the refugees in municipalities differ in each municipality. For example, in one municipality, Directorate of Media and Public Relations is responsible for the service, while in another it is Office of the Chief of Private Secretary, in another it is the Directorate of Social and Administrative Affairs, and in yet another it is the Strategy Development Directorate that is responsible for the services. In addition, the Directorate of Municipal Police and the Directorate of Cultural and Social Affairs are also listed in the departments (Erdoğan, 2017: 69; Koca et al., 2017: 50). Since there is no clarity in the legal and administrative legislation regarding services in the interviews conducted with the relevant department managers and employees, financial restrictions arising from the inability to make a clear distinction from the municipal budget have been mentioned. It is seen that the services are feeding from the budget of the already existing units:

“We cannot do everything at once because of the legal and financial restrictions.”

“We do not have a budget specifically allocated for us.”

“We conduct our business through the budget allocated for Social Assistance Directorate.”

←48 | 49→

It was stated that the in-kind aids (Dry Food & Food Bank, Adult and Baby diapers, wheelchairs, stationery equipment, second hand clothes, household goods and so on. supply) can be provided to the refugees by the municipal administrators, but not in cash. Some municipalities stated that they provided financial assistance to Syrians with an ID. Number by giving them a monthly replenished shopping card, allowing them to buy certain products from the shopping markets. Municipalities also provide clothing and fuel allowance for the winter and homeless shelter (Woods and Kayalı, 2017: 12 -13):

“We can only provide financial aids to the locals who bring the necessary documents (Certificate of Residence etc.).”

“The main problem is the obstacles to making financial aids.”

“Our Directorate can provide cash assistance only if locals can complete the necessary documents. But for refugees, this is unfortunately not possible…”

In addition, the need for specialist and translator employment for refugees was expressed. The necessary legal grounds, financial support and staff arrangement are among the demands expressed (Erdoğan, 2017: 68). It is also stated that the resources allocated to local governments should be increased compared to the refugee population in the district. The most important issue where the local administrators are worried about is the lack of a clear provision for aids in the legislation.

“Local governments need to increase resources in proportion with refugee population in the district.”

“We have a lot of hardship because of the legal procedures.”

“The most important thing that makes the municipalities uneasy is the lack of equivalence for these aids in the legislation” (Koca et al., 2017: 40–50).

Municipalities also stated that there could be non-registered refugees or temporarily protected foreigners within the boundaries of the district, however, they also stated that they could not do anything about this. Municipalities support those who wish to return to the centers. Those who can get a residence permit are stated to have social assistance by district governorships.

First, we met the demands for housing needs. Then, we directed the refugees who could not adapt to the city life and make a living to the centers” (Koca et al., 2017: 40–50).

It was stated that some municipalities provided assistance by sharing information with non-governmental organizations that made donations in the region. In addition, individual applications were recorded and directed to charitable organizations (Koca et al., 2017: 56–57). As the municipal administrations have regular observations and dialogue with refugee groups and their leaders, they have the opportunity to intervene in the current problems and take measures in advance. ←49 | 50→In order to facilitate their integration into the community, and to ensure that the basic needs of refugees are met, it was proposed that local governments, which are the closest administrative units to refugees, should be evaluated as the main tasks of refugee work (Koca et al., 2017: 40–50).

“Just as it is the duty of municipalities to build parks and lay tarmac, so should the refugee issue be the main task of the municipality.”

Another important issue identified was that in managing the process, data cannot be collected in a main center. Many municipalities have created their own databases with their own means. Similarly, bodies such as various ministries, Directorate General of Migration Management, and governorships are engaged in data collection activities. It is stated that sharing the information on the health problems of refugees, to what degree and what kind of help they need, and information about the school-aged children and teenagers will lead to preventing misuse of resources due to misleading insufficient research, and will prevent wasting time and resources for all organizations. Indeed, both the data collection process and the giving aid create duplication, and coordination is not achieved (Erdoğan, 2017: 61–63).

A similar demand was also expressed in another study. It was stated that there was a need for a study covering the needs of the Syrian community living in Istanbul including the distribution of the services provided by the districts, the importance of data collection for continuous monitoring and evaluation was emphasized, and service-based data collection so as to prevent data pollution and the need for coordination were among the advice (Koca et al., 2017: 80).

Each municipality has developed its own ways and methods for refugee services. Municipalities are not able to work in coordination in the same city, and even the neighboring districts. It is expressed that there is a need for coordination among both the district municipalities with one another and with the metropolitan cities, and also need for coordination among of the metropolitan municipalities (Erdoğan, 2017: 120). It is observed that the existing legal and administrative legislation does not explicitly impose duties and responsibilities on municipal activities, and that different regulations should be made in this context.

8 Conclusion and Recommendations

The number of refugees living in cities is approaching 3.5 million. About 95 % of the refugees in Turkey, who are dispersed across 81 districts, are living as “urban refugees” (www.goc.gov.tr). In this context, new legal, institutional, and ←50 | 51→administrative arrangements should be made and more inclusive urban policies should be produced and implemented. Considering the legal and administrative legislation and field researches conducted to date, the following conclusions can be reached:

a) The roles and authorities of municipalities in the process should be clearly defined in laws or related regulations.

b) Since the tasks that local governments can undertake are not clarified in the legislation, they cannot take an effective and active role in the process.

c) The Municipality Law should be amended in a way that enables the provision of services for non-citizens.

d) Municipalities should be given the opportunity to employ specialized staff with relevant language skills for refugees.

e) Municipalities should have access to the central government organization’s databases in order to utilize it on activities for refugees.

f) For the better management of the process, a balanced task sharing, harmony, and coordination between the district municipalities, the central government, and municipalities, an upper body which is connected to metropolitan municipality should be established in districts with metropolitan cities.

g) While performing distribution of the shares allocated from general budget tax revenues (GBTR), the variable population of cities should also be taken into account.

h) For refugees who have no one and for the refugees who are unable to make a living for health or disability reasons, temporary shelters should be established in cities.


The Law No. 2510, www.mevzuat.gov.tr

The Law No .6458, www.mevzuat.gov.tr

Aliu, A., Öztürk, İ., Aliu, D.ve Özkan, Ö. (2016). Türkiye’de Göç Olgusunun Mevzuat, Politikalar ve Bilimsel Projeler Çerçevesinde İncelenmesi, 2. Uluslararası Uygulamalı Bilimler Kongresi: Göç, Yoksulluk ve İstihdam, 23- 25 Eylül 2016, Diken, Ahmet ve Buluş, Abdülkadir (Eds.). Konya: Necmettin Erbakan Üniversitesi Uygulamalı Bilimler Yüksek Okulu, ss. 19–28, ISBN 978-605-4988-04-4.

Avrupa Konseyi Anlaşmalar Ofisi, Council of Europe Treaty Office, http://conventions.coe.int (05.01.2019).

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Demirhan, Y. ve Aslan, S. (2015) “Türkiye’nin Sınır Ötesi Göç Politikaları ve Yönetimi”, Birey ve Toplum Dergisi, 5(9): 23–62.

Erdoğan, M. (2017). Kopuştan “Uyum”a Kent Mültecileri Suriyeli Mülteciler Ve Belediyelerin Süreç Yönetimi: İstanbul Örneği, İstanbul: MBB Marmara Belediyeler Birliği Kültür Yayınları. ISBN 978-605-83293-4-8.

Ermumcu, S. (2013) “Sığınmacıların ve Mültecilerin Sosyal Güvenlik Hakkı”, Çalışma İlişkileri Dergisi, 4(2): 58–76, P-ISSN: 2146-0000 E-ISSN: 2146-7854.

GİGM, Göç İdaresi Genel Müdürlüğü, www.goc.gov.tr

Günay, E., Atılgan, D., ve Serin, E. (2017) “Dünya’da ve Türkiye’de Göç Yönetimi”, Kahramanmaraş Sütçü İmam Üniversitesi İktisadi ve İdari Bilimler Fakültesi Dergisi, 7(2): 37–60.

Kara, M. ve Kara, D. C. Ö. (2015) “Türkiye’de Göç Yönetişimi: Kuramsal Yapı ve İşbirliği”, Girisimcilik ve Kalkınma Dergisi Journal of Entrepreneurship & Development, 10(2): 1–25.

Koca, A., Yıkıcı, A., Kurtarır, E., Çılgın, K., Çolak, N. ve Kılınç, U. (2017). Kent Mülteciliği ve Planlama Açısından Yerel Sorumluluklar Değerlendirme Raporu Suriyeli Yeni Komşularımız İstanbul Örneği. İstanbul: TMMOB Şehir Plancıları Odası. ISBN: 978-605-01-1035-7.

Koç, M., Görücü, İ., ve Akbıyık, N. (2015) “Suriyeli Sığınmacılar ve İstihdam Problemleri”, Birey ve Toplum Dergisi, 5(9): 63–93. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.20493/bt.96676

Mevzuat Bilgi Sistemi, www.mevzuat.gov.tr

Official Gazette, Cumhurbaşkanlığı Kararnameleri, http://www.resmigazete.gov.tr/eskiler/2018/07/20180710-1.pdf. Retrieved Sep 3, 2018

Şeker, G., Sirkeci İ. and Aslan, Ç. (2014). Yabancılar ve uluslararası koruma kanunu hakkında genel bir değerlendirme. İnsan Hakları Yıllığı, 32, 107–129.

TBMM, Türkiye Büyük Millet Meclisi, www.tbmm.gov.tr

TDK, Türk Dil Kurumu, www.tdk.gov.tr

Woods, A. & Kayalı, N. (2017). Suriyeli Topluluklarla Etkileşim: İstanbul’daki Yerel Yönetimlerın Rolü. İstanbul: İPM İstanbul Politikalar Merkezi

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1 This study is based on the abstract proceeding presented at the II. International Congress of Migration and Refugees on 6th December 2018 titled “Urban Refugees and Municipalities: Legal and Administrative Approach to Migration Management”.

Mehtap Yücel Bodur

The Right to Work of Workers under Temporary Protection Status in Turkey

1 Introduction

Today, Turkey has been subjected to a massive influx of refugees with a magnitude incomparable to previous migrant movements in the history of the Republic (Szalanska, 2017: 75 and 78; Kirişçi, 2014: 14; Directorate General of Migration Management: 12.12.2018). The first convoy fleeing from the conflict in Syria entered Turkey on 29 April 2011 and as of 31 Jan 2019, 3 million 640 thousand 466 Syrians are registered under temporary protection (Directorate General of Migration Management: 05.02.2019). Turkey currently hosts the largest number of refugees in the world (Yıldız, 2017: 39; Szalanska, 2017: 73; Adıgüzel, 2018: 35; UNHCR: 10.12.2018).

45 % of Syrians under temporary protection are over 18 and 63 % are within the legal working age range (Kaygısız, 2017: 3). As of 15 November 2018, 32.199 work permits have been granted to Syrians (Refugees Association: 02.01.2019). The dimensions of informal employment can be understood when taking into consideration the size of the working age population. The majority of Syrians who join the workforce in order to maintain their lives work as employee under an employer. A small number of them establish a company or work as tradesmen or craftsmen with a small capital (Korkmaz, 2018: 64–65; Kaya and Eren, 2015: 60). It is estimated that these people employ nearly 100,000 people (Yağcı: 10.12.2018). However, since the first condition of becoming a civil servant is to be a Turkish citizen, Syrians cannot work as civil servants as other foreigners. Therefore, when the work rights of persons under temporary protection are mentioned, labor law is understood by it.

There are various laws and regulations regarding the working principles and procedures of foreigners living in Turkey. The Law on Foreigners and International Protection (LFIP) numbered 6458, the International Labor Force Law (ILFL) numbered 6735, the Temporary Protection Regulation (TPR) and the Regulation on Work Permit of Refugees Under Temporary Protection (Regulation) on the working rights of those with such status are the main regulations to be examined within the scope of this work. These regulations are our national legislation, which is the basis of the working rights and obligations of foreigners (Erdem, 2017: 338). The International Labour Organization (ILO) ←53 | 54→has stated that, among countries where Syrian asylum seekers are concentrated, only Turkey has made specific legal arrangements for these persons (ILO, 2015: 4). With these legal arrangements, Turkey has approached international refugee protection standards (Szalanska, 2017: 84).

2 The Scope of Temporary Protection

In this study, only the right to work of persons under temporary protection will be scrutinized as the examination of the regulations on foreigners working in Turkey will exceed the scope of the issue. Different regulations are also found for persons with refugee or secondary protection status. Hence, it is important to define temporary protection and determine who falls under such protection.

In accordance with the LFIP, the status of international protection provided to foreigners who leave their home country and seek asylum from other countries is listed as refugee status, conditional refugee status, subsidiary protection status and temporary protection status. Only temporary protection is granted to masses, the other types of protection are granted individually (Sağıroğlu, 2018: 48; Ekşi, 2016a: 19; Ekşi, 2016b: 592).

Temporary protection status was regulated for the first time in European law with the disintegration of Yugoslavia under the Temporary Protection Directive-Council Directive (2001/55/EC); and for the first time in Turkish law with the Article 91 of the Law on Foreigners and International Protection (Sağıroğlu, 2018: 50; Erdem, 2017: 337; Ekşi, 2016a: 20; Elçin, 2016: 10). According to Article 91 of the LFIP, “Temporary protection may be provided for foreigners who have been forced to leave their country, cannot return to the country that they have left, and have arrived at or crossed the borders of Turkey in a mass influx situation seeking immediate and temporary protection” (For details on the preparation process of the LFIP, see Alan, 2016). The Temporary Protection Regulation (TPR), which was published in the Official Gazette dated 22.10.2014 and numbered 29153, was enacted on the basis of this decree. According to Article 3 of the “Definitions” section of the TPR, temporary protection refers to the “Protection status granted to foreigners, who were forced to leave their countries and are unable to return to the countries they left and arrived at or crossed our borders in masses to seek urgent and temporary protection and whose international protection requests cannot be taken under individual assessment…” (For other definitions, see UNHCR, 2017: 1–2; Bidinger, 2015: 228).

←54 |

3 Regulations on the Right to Work and Work Obligations of Persons under Temporary Protection

3.1 International Law

The right to work is a universal human right. For this reason, regulations concerning the right to work of foreigners have also been defined in international documents. Article 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which is widely accepted in respect to human rights, states that everyone has the right to work and to free choice of employment without discrimination. Article 24 of the Geneva Convention (1951) also discusses refugees’ right to benefit from social insurance and labor legislation. The right to work is regulated under Part 3, Article 6 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. According to the article, “The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right to work, which includes the right of everyone to the opportunity to gain his living by work which he freely chooses or accepts, and will take appropriate steps to safeguard this right. The steps to be taken by a State Party to the present Covenant to achieve the full realization of this right shall include technical and vocational guidance and training programmes, policies and techniques to achieve steady economic, social and cultural development and full and productive employment under conditions safeguarding fundamental political and economic freedoms to the individual.” The International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, too, has regulations on the right to work. The provisions found in the European Social Charter on meeting equal working conditions and protecting migrant workers and their family members are among the international regulations on this matter.

The right to work is a human right, which must be enforced without any discrimination between citizens and foreigners, apart from exceptions set out by public order and general ethical principles (Başbuğ, 2013). In Article 49 of the Constitution of the Republic of Turkey, the right to work is a right granted to “everyone” without discriminating between citizens and foreigners. The clause in Article 16 of the Constitution, which states that the fundamental rights and freedoms of foreigners can be restricted in accordance with international law, also applies to the right to work of these persons (Tiryakioğlu, 1997: 81). In fact, the international treaties to which Turkey is a party and the constitutional provisions are parallel with each other with respect to the right to work (Dönmez Kara, 2016: 156). However, some of the restrictions that are not included in international regulations exist in our domestic law. In this respect, the prohibition of certain jobs and occupations to foreigners in our national legislation is an illegal ←55 | 56→limitation of human rights. (Başbuğ, 2013). Because, a person’s freedom to work by using all their talents and human capital constitutes the nature of the right to work (Bidinger, 2015: 234).

3.2 National Law

The regulations regarding the work of foreigners in Turkey have been completely revised in the past few years and new regulations have been introduced in line with the need. The main ones of these regulations are the International Labor Force Law dated 2016 and the Law on Foreigners and International Protection. In addition, with the Temporary Protection Regulation of 2014, the general provisions on those under temporary protection in Turkey have been amended; for the integration of these persons into business life, the Regulation on Work Permits of Foreigners under Temporary Protection has been enacted in January, 2016. The Temporary Protection Regulation is the only regulation on the matter that is implemented in the world (Çalıştay, 2016: 15).

In Turkey, the status of foreigners’ work permits and exemptions is generally regulated in the International Labor Force Law dated 2016 and numbered 6735 (For detailed information on this law, see Karaağaç, 2018: 90 et al.). According to Article 6/2 of the ILFL, “Foreigners within the scope of this Law are not allowed to work or be employed in Turkey without work permit.” In this case, Syrians who are temporarily protected also have to obtain a work permit (Regulation, Article 4).

There are three types of permits in Turkey: periodical, indefinite and independent (Karaağaç, 2018: 103). According to Article 10 of the ILFL, the first application will be granted a work permit valid for a maximum of one year on the condition that the person works in a certain workplace or at a certain job in workplaces that are in the same line of business as the employer. Affiliated to the same employer, the first extension will be granted a work permit for a maximum of two years and the next extension application will be granted a work permit for maximum three years. For each employer, a work permit valid for a maximum of one year is granted. Foreigners who hold long-term residence permit in Turkey or who have legal work permit for at least eight years can apply for indefinite work permit. Foreigners who have indefinite work permit benefit from the rights granted to Turkish citizens. Foreigners who have indefinite work permit do not have the right to choose, to be elected and to become civil servants and have no obligation to perform military service. The independent work permit may be granted by taking into consideration the foreigner’s education level, professional experience, contribution to science and technology, and the impact of their activities in Turkey or investment on the country’s economy ←56 | 57→and employment. As temporarily protected Syrians are allowed to work only for a period of time when they are under temporary protection, their work permits are periodical (Şahankaya Adar, 2018: 19). Hence, fixed term contracts are concluded with these persons. According to Article 29/4 of the TPR, “Validity period of the work permits given to the persons benefiting from temporary protection shall not be longer than the duration of the temporary protection. The validity of the work permits issued within this scope shall end upon the end of temporary protection.” According to the Temporary Protection Directive of the European Commission, the period of temporary protection is one year unless terminated for reasons specified in the directive. This period can be extended for at least one year with 6-month periods (Article 4/1). However, if the reasons for temporary protection persist, the Council may, by a qualified majority, decide on a proposal submitted by the Commission to extend the provisional protection period to a maximum of one year by examining any request addressed by a member state to submit a proposal to the Council (Article 4/2). In Turkey, the duration of the work permit of persons who have been granted temporary protection is regulated in such a way that it cannot exceed the duration of temporary protection, parallel to the EU Directive (Elçin, 2016: 57).

According to Article 17 of the ILFL, foreigners who are temporarily protected may apply for a work permit or work permit exemption, six months after the date of the issuance of temporary protection identity card. Therefore, the first condition for obtaining a work permit is to be issued a temporary protection identity document, and the second condition is to apply within 6 months from this date.

Domestic work permit applications are made to the Ministry of Labour, Social Services and Family; overseas work permit applications are made to the embassy or the consulate general. The application can also be made by an authorized intermediary institution (ILFL, Article 7). The person who will apply for a work permit is the foreigner himself/herself for independent workers, and their employers for dependent employees (Regulation, Article 5). The fact that the employer is the applicant can yield both positive and negative results. While some consider this situation as a positive step in terms of language barrier and lack of familiarity with the procedures in Turkey which refugees experience (Şahankaya Adar, 2018: 19); others argue that the low number of Syrians obtaining work permits is due to employers not applying for the permit in order to not pay fees (Yıldız, 2017: 20).

Foreigners who obtain a work permit or work permit exemption do not need to obtain a residence permit again. While the residence permit of refugees or holders of secondary protection status gives the right to work to foreigners, the residence permit of those under temporary protection does not function as a ←57 | 58→work permit (TPR, Article 29/5; Ergin, 2017: 100). Foreigners are required to come to Turkey within six months from the date of validity of the work permit. The work permit of foreigners who do not come to Turkey within this period is revoked (ILFL, Article 12).

Foreigners who wish to work in health and education services must obtain prior permission from the Ministry of Health, Ministry of National Education or the Council of Higher Education before obtaining a work permit (ILFL, Article 8). Otherwise, their applications are removed from the process without evaluation (Regulation, Article 6). The purpose of seeking preliminary permission in these areas is to assess whether foreigners have the qualifications necessary for their professions (Ergin, 2017: 43).

Another ease the ILFL provides regarding work permits is the implementation of Turquoise Card. “…According to their education, experience, contribution in science and technology, the impact of their activity or investment in Turkey on the economy and employment in the country”, foreigners are given Turquoise Card which “grants indefinite work permit to the foreigner in Turkey and residence permit to his/her spouse and dependent children in accordance with the provisions of the legislation.” However, in compliance with Article 11/6 of the ILFL, foreigners who have been granted temporary protection cannot receive Turquoise Card (Karaağaç, 2018).

Some restrictions have been introduced on the right to work of those covered by temporary protection. These restrictions can be listed as provincial restrictions, vocational restrictions and employment quota. According to the first of these restrictions, those under temporary protection, in accordance with Article 29/2 of the TPR, can obtain work permits in sectors, business branches, and geographical areas (provinces, counties or villages) to be determined by the President. These provinces are provinces that continue the practice of temporary protection (Regulation, Article 7). If the temporarily protected person wants to work in a different province, he or she must first change their city of residence. This requirement is criticized by a certain opinion in the discipline which we agree with, and it is stated that it leads to unregistered employment (Çoban, 2017: 270). Furthermore, one can only apply for a single job (UNHCR: 15.12.2018).

The work permit is valid for the work and the workplace that the work permit is issued to. In the event of periodical displacement -even if there is another branch of the same company- the work permit for that branch must be obtained again. If a foreigner under temporary protection quits from the job where they obtained the work permit, the work permit is canceled within 15 days from the date of termination. The new employer who hired this person must reapply for a work permit (UNCHR: 15.12.2018).

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One of the limitations imposed on the right to work of those under temporary protection is the employment quota. According to Regulation, Article 8, “Number of foreigners under temporary protection, who work at the work place, where work permit application is lodged, cannot be more than ten percent of the number of Turkish citizens working at the work place. In workplaces with less than ten employees, the work permit may be granted to maximum one foreigner under temporary protection. In cases of applications where the employers are able to document for the Provincial Directorate of Labor Agency to where his/her workplace is registered; within the last four weeks prior to the work permit application date, that there would be no Turkish citizens to undertake the same work to be done by the applying foreigner, the employment quota may not be implemented.” If an employer wants to employ a number of persons under temporary protection which exceeds the 10 % quota, he/she should apply to the Provincial Directorate before applying to the Ministry for those who exceed the quota limit and obtain a document indicating that the employment quota may not be applied for their case (Kaya, 2017). Determining the quota limit is predicated on not all the workplaces owned by the employer but on the workplace that the foreigner will be employed at (UNHCR: 15.12.2018).

The latest limitation on the right to work of those under temporary protection is the jobs and professions that are allowed to be legally exercised by Turkish citizens only. In Turkey, in accordance with the legislation, foreigners are forbidden from performing certain professions and duties regardless of their status. Foreigners in Turkey cannot work in the fields of dentistry, nursing, midwifery, pharmacy, veterinary medicine, private hospital management, advocacy, notary, security officer in private or public institutions, diving within territorial waters, captaincy, guiding and other professions, customs brokerage and tourist guidance (Parlak, 2017: 2330; Başbuğ, 2017: 141; Çoban, 2017: 271).

In addition to the procedures and restrictions on the employment of those under temporary protection, there are also certain conveniences. The first of these is the work permit exemption granted to foreigners under temporary protection to work in seasonal agriculture or animal husbandry (Regulation, Article 5). However, in order to benefit from this exemption, the minimum temporary protection period of at least six months must be completed (Application Guide for Foreigners Under Temporary Protection: 17.12.2018). Since the majority of persons under temporary protection are unskilled, it will be relatively easier for them to find a job in these sectors. Therefore, according to an opinion in the discipline that we agree with, the exemption of these fields from work permits is received favorably (Şahankaya Adar, 2018: 20). It should be noted that any foreigner with a valid work permit cannot apply for a work permit exemption. ←59 | 60→Also, there is no quota limitation on the employment of temporarily protected foreigners in seasonal agriculture and livestock (UNHCR: 15.12.2018). In addition to this regulation, if health professionals which are Syrian nationals under temporary protection wish to work in refugee centers established by the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority, it is sufficient that they submit a document indicating that they are authorized to perform their occupation (Regulation on Principles and Procedures of Foreign Medical Professionals’ Working at Private Medical Organizations in Turkey).

It is ensured that those under temporary protection may apply to the Ministry to employed at public benefit associations and tax-exempt organizations as humanitarian aid workers (Regulation, Article 11/1). Associations and foundations that are not included within the scope of the law may also employ temporarily protected persons, but are required to seek the assent of the Ministry of Interior (Regulation, Article 11/2).

Another special regulation on foreigners who have been granted temporary protection is vocational training. According to Article 12 of the Regulation, “Applications to the Ministry may be lodged for persons, who will receive vocational training and on-the-job training at a work place within the scope of courses and programs organized under active work force services by Turkish Labor Agency, and employment of these persons at the same work place at the end of training period. Work place employment quota may be implemented differently in applications to be lodged within the scope of this article.” The subject of vocational education is also of great importance in the integration of these individuals into the country.

Apart from all these regulations, just like Turkish workers, foreigners under temporary protection who obtain a work permit have employment rights such as minimum wage, annual leave, and severance pay and social security rights, including the payment of insurance premiums by the employer and general health insurance coverage.

A foreigner whose temporary protection has been revoked will also have their work permit canceled (Ekşi, 2016a: 28; Ekşi, 2016b: 601–602). According to Article 13/3 of the Regulation which regulates this, “Work permits of foreigners, whose temporary protection is ceased or canceled within the scope of Temporary Protection Regulation, shall be canceled.”

The fee for a temporary work permit valid from 01.01.2019 up to one year is 761,10 TL. For permits valid for more than one year, 761,10 TL is paid each year. So, for example, for a work permit valid for 2 years, 1.522,20 TL, for a work permit valid for 3 years, 2.283,30 TL must be paid in fees. The fee for the ←60 | 61→permanent work permit is 7.612,70 TL. The fee for the independent work permit is 7.612,70 TL. The annual fee for a work permit has been determined as 283,20 TL for those under temporary protection which is far more affordable than for other foreigners (Directorate General of International Labor Force: 05.02.2019).

Foreigners who have been found to be working without a work permit are delivered to the Ministry of the Interior to be deported and then to the Directorate General of Migration Management where necessary procedures are carried out. For each foreigner, an administrative fine of 8.821 TL is imposed on employers who employ foreigners without a work permit; 3.527 TL on foreigners who work dependently without a work permit; 7.057 TL on foreigners who work independently without a work permit.

4 Primary Problems Faced by Persons under Temporary Protection

The purpose of regulating the working conditions of foreigners who are granted temporary protection in Turkey’s national legislation is to facilitate their access to the labor market and to ensure that they are self-sufficient and socially involved while earning a livelihood (Dönmez Kara, 2016: 154; Elçin, 2016: 57; Kaya and Eren, 2015: 60).

Those under temporary protection work mainly in textile, ready-made clothing, seasonal agriculture-livestock, and construction sectors (Korkmaz, 2018: 64–65; Parlak, 2017: 2331; Kaygısız, 2017: 3). The common feature of these jobs is that they are labor-intensive and predominantly unskilled (Korkmaz, 2018: 77; Kaygısız, 2017: 3; Bidinger, 2015: 235).

The major issues that Syrian immigrants face when entering the labor market and in the process of employment can be listed as undeclared work, work without job security, getting paid less than the minimum wage due to undeclared work, widespread child labor due to financial difficulties, serious health problems among children, poor working conditions, high risk of occupational accident and illness due to lack of occupational health safety measure, language barrier, women not participating in the labor market, and low unionization rates (Korkmaz, 2018: 64, 70, 72, 77; Yücel et al., 2018, Şahankaya Adar, 2018: 21 and 23; Sağıroğlu, 2018: 59–60; Parlak, 2017: 2332–2335; Çoban, 2017: 272–275; Kaygısız, 2017: 3; Başbuğ, 2017: 142; Yıldız, 2017: 39 and 92; Erdoğan, 2016: 33; Dönmez Kara, 2016: 154 and 164; Kaya and Eren, 2015: 60; Del Carpio and Wagner, 2015: 2). In the next section, suggestions will be made for the solution of these problems.

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5 Conclusion and Recommendations

Despite the problems they face in daily and work life, Syrians living in Turkey under temporary protection continue to live within the borders of this country as the conflicts in their country have not yet ended. The data from surveys and the conviction in the discipline predict that Syrians will not return to their country and will stay in Turkey even if the conflict in Syria ends (Korkmaz, 2018: 59; Adıgüzel, 2018: 41; Erdem, 2017: 33; Parlak, 2017: 2330; Kaygısız, 2017: 19; Erdoğan, 2016: 32). Therefore, it is important to accelerate integration policies (İçduygu and Millet, 2016; Başbuğ, 2017: 143; Parlak, 2017: 2330; Erdoğan, 2016: 32). Improving the working conditions of those covered by temporary protection will benefit both these persons, the labor markets and the economy, and will reduce the share allocated from the state budget for basic maintenance costs (Dönmez Kara, 2016: 165 and 168; Bidinger, 2015: 244; Uzun, 2015: 116).

Some of the problems and proposed solutions covered in the discipline (Yücel, 2018: 64; Çoban, 2017: 277; Kaygısız, 2017: 6–7; Düzkaya, 2016: 23–29; Çalıştay, 2016: 93–94; Bidinger, 2015: 245–246;) and at the Workshop on Problems Faced by Syrian Workers, Employers and Entrepreneurs in Labor Market and Suggestions for Solution organized on 13 June 2016 by the ILO Turkey Office working in line with this objective can be listed as follows:

- In order to stop undeclared work, the operability of audits should be increased and penalties should be applied diligently.

- Registered Syrian workers should be encouraged to become union members.

- Vocational training for Syrians should be extended considering their low level of education and vocational skills. The Turkish Employment Agency should be brought to the level of providing on-the-job training to Syrians.

- These employees should be encouraged to register for the Turkish Employment Agency.

- These persons should be given free Turkish language courses.

- Child labor should be prevented and additional policies that encourage children to be sent to school should be developed.

- Arrangements, such as tax reduction and social security premium support for employers who employ those under temporary protection, should be made.

- Analysis of the knowledge and skills of these persons should be carried out. To this end, the “Expert Hands” Project, put into practice under the leadership of the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB) and financed by the EU, will certify the professional competency of 15,000 ←62 | 63→people, 65 % of whom are Syrians under temporary protection and 35 % of them are Turkish citizens. These analyses should be aligned with the needs analysis of the sectoral and labor market.

- The disparities between foreigners on work permits should be eliminated.

- Work permit fees should be reduced.

- Syrian women should also be informed of their rights in the labor market and protected by stronger mechanisms against sexual exploitation.

- The number of projects such as job creation and entrepreneurship opportunities implemented by the ILO and international assistance for job creation should be augmented.

- The ILO Convention No. 97, Migration for Employment Convention, and the ILO Migrant Workers Convention (No. 143) must be ratified by Turkey.

Turkey has taken the heaviest burden in relation to refugees in the world. In general, it has brought its legal legislation in compliance with contemporary international regulations. However, there are some shortcomings as explained above. It is difficult to ensure that such a large number of people adapt to the country and unfair to expect the country to digest the situation so easily. However, we have faith that the existing shortcomings will be remedied.


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Emre Çıtak

International Migration and Immigrants: An Evaluation in the Context of the New Security Concept

1 Introduction

Migration has been a reality and necessity experienced in every period of history. People have shown the tendency to move from place to place by the force of current circumstances or by choice. A limited human movement from a small settlement to the nearest city in search of a lucrative job and a long-term activity in search of a new life to reach a destination that is thousands of kilometers away due to social problems in one’s country are both considered to be in the scope of migration. The political, social, economic, cultural and demographic impacts of migration and immigrants, triggered by whatever cause, is one of the most important factors that have changed the course of human history. Society and state structures, cultural elements, national identities, economic parameters, urbanization rate, political opinions, employment opportunities, criminal tendencies have been directly or indirectly shaped by immigrants.

Migration is divided into internal and external migration, depending on where the scope of mobility is realized. Internal migrations have profound effects on the general structure of the concerned country and external migrations on that of multiple countries. People who cannot find the opportunity to lead the lifestyle they desire, who face political-legal-religious difficulties, who suffer from natural disasters, who cannot meet their economic needs, who cannot hold their family together, who have security concerns or who are just looking for adventure are involved in this process in planned-unplanned, voluntary-involuntary, legal-illegal, safe-dangerous, easy-difficult ways (Segal, Mayadas and Elliott, 2006:5).

Today’s world is experiencing an intensive process of both internal and external migrations, with it becoming increasingly complex, uncertain and inextricable. Internal migration is becoming more of an issue for states; external migration for the international arena. While the authorized bodies of states are trying to address the impact that domestic migrations have on spheres such as the economy, society, demography and security, the direct respondent of the effects of migration which might create serious consequences has, until very recently, been states targeted by immigrants. At a time when migration has become internationalized, ←67 | 68→or in other words globalized, the term “external power” fails to express the extent of the activity. As the use of concepts “international migration” and “international immigrant” is becoming increasingly common, migration convoys attract more and more people, increasing the number of people seeking to leave their country. According to the International Migration Report of 2017 prepared by the United Nations, the number of immigrants in the international arena has reached 258 million (UN, 2017:4). This kind of intensity brings together security issues that need to be examined from multiple angles.

2 Assessment of International Migration and Immigrants in the Context of Security

2.1 Migration and International Migration

The concept of migration is generally defined as a state of movement by a population at different distances (Dingle and Drake, 2007: 113:114). The reasons behind a relocated community and the situation it creates are very impressive on a theoretical basis and have been a serious research topic throughout modern history. Certainly, human migrations, among all migrations, hold a special status due to its nature that directly concerns other people and living things. Migration refers to the crossing of spatial boundaries by one or more people in the process of changing residence (Kok, 1999: 20). Although this definition clearly reveals the issue, it is necessary to state that migration is an important and sensitive issue at an international level, which attracts the attention of many segments and is quite controversial from time to time, embedded within rational policies and constitutes one of the main themes of emotional literature and human stories (Moore, 2015). A number of reasons, including the search for a new life, wars, environmental conditions, social expectation, have led individuals or large communities to abandon their places since their existence.

Despite migration having undergone continuous transformation for reasons ranging from globalization to increasing security problems and the existence of numerous definitions of the concept of migration, the general characteristics of this ancient activity that require examination remain the same. As Lee (1996: 49–52) stated, these characteristics can be classified as elements pertaining to the starting point, the destination, obstacles on the route and personal factors. The examination of these elements provides an understanding of the reasons for migrations, immigrants’ motivation and struggles, and both the past and the future of migration.

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Migration, in substance, elicits the questioning of two crucial realities. The first reality is the forging of a bond between people and the place they live and the utter difficulty in breaking this bond (Ekici and Tuncel, 2015: 9). The second reality—especially in regards to external migration—is people coming together to form a state that they wish to live in, and the belief of safety in residing within its borders (Poku and Graham, 2000:1–3). Given this situation, irrespective of one’s will, migration reflects an escape, the manifestation of a need unmet or a necessity. Immigrants sometimes flee due to war, a need for adequate education, or simply due to phenomena such as famine. Although migration continues to involve such force majeure, today it has become a “desire”, the usual compulsory case of the movement of migration now becoming a popular “lifestyle change” where millions of people participate in it each year (International Organization for Migration, 2017: 1–3).

In the “Migration, Human Rights and Governance Report” prepared jointly by the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the International Labour Organization and the United Nations, migration is briefly described as the cross-border movement of people from the country they were born in, or are citizens of, to other countries for temporary or permanent settlement (IPU, ILO and UN, 2015:17). International migration is not a new phenomenon or situation; people have shown a tendency to relocate from their place of origin to the known or unknown in varying durations, form or intensity throughout history. For humans, migration has been a reality of life like “war”, “society”, “science”, “agriculture”, “faith”, “architecture”, and a gradual experience. Today, the ever-increasing cross-border migration waves have popularized the subject.

It must be stated that the factors triggering migration are quite diverse, going from global events such as revolutions and the rise and fall of empires, to general changes like conflict and exile borne out of economic expansion, nation-building, or political transformations (Koser, 2007:4). According to figures by the United Nations, the number of international migrants is increasing day by day, rising to approximately 258 million in 2017 (UN DESA, 2017). It is necessary to point out that the number of international migrants was 248 million in 2015, 220 million in 2010, 191 million in 2005, 173 million in 2000, and that the average annual increase during the period since 2000 is 2.4 % (UN, 2017:4). Today, 58 million immigrants are trying to establish a new life in North America, 10 million in South America, 78 million in Europe, 80 million in Asia, 8 million in Australia and 25 million in Africa (GMDACC and IOM, 2018:21).

The figures show that almost 3 % of the world’s population live outside of their native countries or is fighting to do so. Migrant influx, caused by job search, familial obligations, humanitarian situations, asylum-seeking, training ←69 | 70→opportunities, is shifted to so-called developed countries. The 36-member countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) make up the target of nearly half of current international immigrants (OECD, 2018b).

International migration is becoming an increasingly popular trend. The increase in the number of people travelling across borders brings with it the increase in illegal and irregular migrations. This reflects the desired trend for neither sending nor destination countries. It must be noted that globalization is one of the most important factors causing the rise. Migration is increasingly finding more foothold in global economic and social changes. Some of the emerging results include the globalization process and traditionally defined occupational crises causing increased developmental, demographic and democratic disparities contributing to people being forcibly relocated; the creation of demand for immigrant workers in some sectors within developed countries; the increase in communication means, creating awareness of new possibilities of life; the transformation in transportation facilitating mobility; the expansion of cross-border human rights thanks to human rights and powers becoming prevalent; the emergence of an economic space defined over immigrants and the expansion of the network between immigrants (Koser, 2007:28). Any development caused by globalization will undoubtedly affect the course of future migrations.

2.2 The Relationship Between Migration and Security

We are experiencing a period where the words “migration” and “security” are often used together. It is quite natural that human mobility brings along security discussions; migration, directly or indirectly, concerns various issues such as economy, state structure, society, law, border security, health, demography, and employment. This accelerates the process of including migration in security discussions.

In fact, it is hard to argue that migration or immigrants have a direct impact on insecurity; the long history of international migrations have demonstrated as many positive effects of this mobility as it has negative effects for both sending and receiving countries (Robert Rowrhorn, 2015: 17–44; Pirvu and Axinte, 2012; OECD, 2018a). It is necessary to state that migrants count for 9 % of national income in the world; that they contribute economically to the country of origin, transit and destination; that they have a positive impact on the labor force; and that they accelerate cultural interaction and bring with them various talents (IOM, 2018:11).

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The inability to manage international migration and the irregular increase in the number of immigrants causes problems to surface by suppressing the positive aspects of said mobility. Discussing these problems is not a new phenomenon; people settling in a different society by crossing borders has a negative impact on the economy, demography, security, politics, etc. Such problems have been discussed even in an article dated on 1921, when the intensity of international migration had not reached the present level (Monthly Labor Review, 1921: 213–215); however, the current trend has brought about a process in which problems that have not been encountered or kept on the agenda are being discussed.

The relation between international migration and security can be addressed under three general headings, which are: security reasons behind migration, security problems created by migration and the security of immigrants. In other words, the threats underpinning the migration-security relationship which trigger migration are caused by migration and faced by the people in the migration movement.

There are many security-related factors which necessitate migration and force people to migrate. Those who are forced to leave their birthplace perceive the wars of their country with other states, internal conflicts triggered by politics, religion, ethnic origin, sect, illegal groups acting on terrorism and smuggling as threats to their lives, property, living standards and social development. In cases where states fail their duty to protect them, individuals turn to countries which are structurally and militarily strong. Furthermore, environmental problems, among which global warming is of primary importance, constitute a link between security and migration. Drought, the decline of livable and arable land, the shortage of food and clean water, the reduction of other sources and tensions leading to conflict create security problems for indigenous peoples and this situation, by extension, trigger displacement movements (Elliott, 2011). By the end of 2017, the number of displaced persons due to violence or natural disasters reached 40 million (IDMC, 2018: 1–8); it is also important to note that the majority of those who do not have the opportunity to return to their homes are struggling to find a new life in other countries.

The second dimension of the security-migration debate is the security challenges during and after migration. Security problems incurred for destination countries and international security issues that are a product of a more widespread understanding are discussed within this context. In the context of national security, the impact of international migration closely concerns all states of the world. Migration pushing the national borders and immigrants entering through borders brings along some security problems. These problems can be summarized as loss of sovereignty, damage to border security, free movement of ←71 | 72→terrorist or smuggling groups, rise of xenophobia, burden on economy, concentration of security incidents, difficulties in employment due to low-cost labor, countries taking advantage of immigrants to further their interests (Adamson, 2006: 165–166; Choucri, 2002; Mandacı and Özerim, 2013: 112–125; Meier, 2000: 127–129; Şener, 2017: 102–23). Migration as a cross-border and inter-state mobility requires that it is classified as a topic of the international arena and analyzed under the international security framework in the field of security studies (Choucri, 2002:114–117). Irregular and undocumented human communities moving across countries have a negative impact on regional and international security. Negative circumstances, such as problems related to national security in countries where immigrants become citizens of with their departures/arrivals and target countries being brought to the international arena, advantages illegal groups gained thanks to migration, problems caused by such human movements between contracting parties, concentration of illegal migration intertwined with human trafficking on international waters, disturbance of the desired peace and stability in the international arena, must be reckoned.

The third dimension of the security-migration relationship is the security of migrants. The subject to be considered in the context of individual security is discussed in the context of threats and dangers that immigrants are exposed to during the migration process, their arrival at the border of the target country and entering into the border, at the stages of living within the relevant community. Even though national or international security types are prioritized when it comes to migration, migrants have been increasingly placed at the center of security (Huysmans and Squire, 2009:5–6). The attacks on immigrants en route, unfavorable natural conditions, hunger and thirst, deprivation from housing, problems illegal immigrants in particular face in land and sea transportation, immigrants being targeted by various smuggling groups, dangers immigrants are exposed to in their temporary residence, physical and psychological threats that may be received from the society of the host country are considered in this context.

3 The Role of Migration and Immigrants in the New Security Concept

3.1 The Outline of the New Security Concept

In general terms, it is possible to frame security as the state of being protected from threats. However, this short definition is not adequate to clarify the issue. It is also essential to clearly state the threats, their sources, and the objects ←72 | 73→towards which said threats are targeted or from which they are protected. It is these topics that constitute the distinction between the traditional and new security concepts.

Traditional security reflects an understanding of the centrality of the state or international field, within whose context threats are defined. In the traditional security context, it is stated that military threats are the main concern undermining security, that these threats adversely affect both the survival of the state and the international order; that states need to increase their powers in order to counter these threats; and that the state is the object to be protected and to protect (Carr; 1946; Waltz, 1954; Morgenthau, 1948). The traditional security concept made special references to the state, military power, economic relations, capacity, international conflict or cooperation, high politics, borders, supremacy and ignored many issues until the end of the Cold War. Therefore, critical approaches to the structure of traditional security which is defined as “narrow or limited” rose.

Until the 1990s, there was a series of discussions about the scope of security; however, with the end of the Cold War, it was only possible for different issues apart from states and wars to be put on the agenda. Besides military and politics, the consideration of fields such as the economy, environment, and society within the scope of security studies; the inclusion of individual, region and society -besides the state and international arena- in the list of objects to be protected, the start of a trend towards issues that have been overshadowed by hard politics such as terrorism, global warming, and contagious diseases (Buzan, 1991; Booth; 2007; Buzan, Wæver and De Wilde, 1997; Kolodziej, 2005) have birthed a new concept. In the development of this concept, the relationship between the way security is theorized and the theorization period is very important. The arguments developed by the theories and approaches that gained power in the post-Cold War period over topics mainstream theories realism and liberalism overlooked -such as individual, environment, identity, gender and technology- changed the scope and orientation of security (Peoples and Vaughan-Williams, 2010:8–11).

In the process formed by factors such as the end of the Cold War, globalization and the September 11 attacks, the traditional security concept underwent a major change in topics such as scope issues, cooperation, continuity, threat perception, protection methods (Baylis, 2006: 300–315). Under the circumstances, an extensive security agenda which encompassed migration and immigrants has emerged.

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3.2 International Migration and Immigrants in the New Security Concept

Heavy waves of migration from Central and Latin America to U.S. territories, to European countries through the Mediterranean and Southeast Europe, and to Turkey and neighboring countries because of the Syrian War caused a serious discussion of security in this field; because such migration directly challenges the limits of state sovereignty and international order (Bello, 2017: 1–4). The number of international immigrants, which was about 85 million in 1970, rose to 173 million in 2000; today, it has reached 258 million. The current increase estimates that there will be over 400 million immigrants by the middle of this century (IOM, 2017: 2–15). The rise in international migration over the years has increased the share of this issue in the field of security. International migration and immigrants, which were seen as an unexceptional issue and remained under the shadow of primary policies in the traditional security concept, have found an important place in the new security concept.

Along with the new period in the international arena, there has been a transformation in the nature of both migration and perceptions about migration. The link between security and migration is regarded to be the major topic in this change. Migration in the context of security and security in the context of migration have been an important area of investigation. One the one hand, considering migration as the “generator of insecurity” and a “threat”, on the other hand, viewing security as an element to be ensured during the migration process has paved the way for relevant debate (Huysmans and Squire, 2009: 1–5).

Migration and immigrants becoming a more pronounced topic in the field of security was realized through the sectors of security and areas of analysis expanded within the scope of the Copenhagen School. With topics such as human rights, economic issues, internal conflicts, individual safety, social security gaining importance in security discussions and with the inclusion of new items, besides the state, at the center of security (Buzan, 1991; Buzan and Hansen, 2007; Buzan and Hansen, 2009; Buzan, Wæver and De Wilde, 1997; Wæver, 1995), migration which concerns different fields has gained more importance as an agenda item. Emphasizing the importance of the individual in the security concept, which had centered the state throughout history, even viewing security as a tool for the liberation of the individual (Booth, 1991: 318–320) has also created a profound change in the perception of migration and immigrants.

The waves of migration created by the conflicts and instability in the Middle East, the Balkans and throughout Africa were seen as a serious issue in the early 1990s. This problem was initially seen in the eyes of states as a threat to borders ←74 | 75→and, in this context, protecting the borders was considered the main approach (Gök: 2016:68–72). Although there was not a multidimensional study of migration, which was considered as “low politics” or “secondary politics” during the Cold War period, it is necessary to state that intensive study of this period constituted adequate literature and historical framework (Gabaccia, 2015: 47–52). In this period, the undermining of state sovereignty, inadequate immigration policies, increasing illegal immigration, intensified identity problems coming to the fore, instability of sectors and economies with globalization (Hollifield and Wong, 2015:250–253) has had a striking impact on migration and security. Globalization encouraging migration and making it compulsory has paved the way for concentration, demand and, as a negative outcome, illegality in this area. The figures related to the number of immigrants and their movement becoming indefinite and exceeding the recorded constitutes the basic definition of illegal immigration (Dauvergne, 2008:10–13). The increase in illegality and irregularity of migration has brought along security problems which present themselves on different dimensions. This situation has been a product of the process of integrating migration into the scope of security studies.

The increased waves of migration in the 1990s, due to reasons such as war, ethnic conflict, political turmoil and of economic globalization increasing inequality in various parts of the world, (Heywood, 2016: 215) persisted while spreading and extending its sphere of influence. Migration, through the context of the international arena today, is mentioned alongside topics like conflicts and tensions moving to different geographies, terrorism, international crimes, xenophobia and border control (Peoples and Vaughan-Williams, 2010: 136). On one hand, international migration has an impact on social order, demographic structure, cultural fabric, social security system, and both internal security and welfare within the scope of a state’s national security (Şener, 2017:2); on the other hand, it is associated with instability and human tragedies, issues that occur among countries on the international arena.

The new security concept has brought forward the issue of migration as a result of the expansion process. One of the important issues that stood out amongst topics which occupied the agenda, such as inter-state wars, the race for weapons of mass destruction and economic conflict, has been migration. In this context, the process of securitizing migration was realized rapidly. Today, the issue of international migration has risen to the top in the list of current discussions on international security. The close relationship of migration with the new areas of security, such as globalization, economic crises, national security, terrorism and human trafficking, has also been important in this regard. In a cycle where security problems create migration and migration creates security ←75 | 76→problems, the impact that both the receiving and sending countries experience and the international reflections in this context have a large place in the agenda (Weiner, 1992/1993:106–107).

In the context of the new security concept, the integration of the individual and society as reference objects into the center of security has revealed the relationship between both immigrants and security, and the communities in the host country and security. The emphasis, research, and studies on security factors (e.g. civil wars) which force individuals to migrate, on human rights violations, on increased xenophobia and racism as a result, on fluctuation in the distribution of population, on identity discussions, on employment opportunities in society, on fundamental rights and freedoms immigrants are deprived of, on qualifying for free movement and citizenship (Kicinger, 2004:3–5; Dummett, 2001: 137–150; Bean and Brown, 2015: 81–83; Bauböck, 2006: 145–165; Carling, 2017) are the gains achieved with the new concept. When discussed within the context of individual and social security as much as within the context of national and international security, the economic, political, cultural, social, environmental security dimensions of migration (Graham, 2000: 191–197) may become prominent.

4 Conclusion and Assesment

Migration, approached from different angles, has become an agenda topic with the development of the new security concept. The new security concept, beyond the concept of security that is based on military and politics and centered around the state, points to a process where threats and threat sources are diversified, the number of objects that need to be protected increases, and the state of being secure becomes ambiguous. In addition to identity discussions, environmental issues, economic crises and terrorism, migration has been also added to the security agenda.

Migration has a close relationship with individual, social, national and international security. Migration can present individual threats for immigrants, social threats for the communities which immigrants leave or join, national threats due to its undesired effects on borders, economies and demographic structures, and international threats because of its nature that concerns multiple countries. For this reason, especially economically, socially and legally developed countries resort to various measures to obstruct the migratory waves directed towards them. These precautions are discussed within the scope of “security measures”.

As stated throughout the study, the number of international migrations and immigrants has been increasing steadily. From Asia to the Middle East, from North Africa to Central America, millions of people travel in hopes of a better ←76 | 77→and safer life. Migratory waves, which occur mostly in an illegal and irregular manner, also create insecurity. The peaceful and orderly atmosphere desired in the international arena is, thereby, negatively affected. Circumstances, such as environmental disasters, civil wars, the threat of terrorism, financial crises, failed states, human rights violations, create waves of displaced people whose only option is to leave their homes. While the perception of security threats in the administrative wing of countries targeted by immigrants is amplified, the seeds of xenophobia are cultivated by the public.

It is not difficult to predict that, in the future, people will continue to search for life opportunities beyond their homes by crossing borders. This will ensure that more human tragedies are created, smuggling organizations win more, terrorist organizations find more opportunities to recruit new members and have more mobility, demographic issues come to the fore more often, and racism and xenophobia increase. It is necessary to state that the significance of international migration and the perception of threats pertaining to international migration will, thus, increase for the new security concept.

The investigation of security problems that underlie irregular and illegal migration is extremely vital. The prevention of problems created by people who view migration as a necessity is only possible through the elimination of threats that cause their exodus in the first place. Within this framework, in order to solve the physical, psychological, economic, political, identity, environmental security problems in immigrants’ homelands, policies on a global scale must be adopted by all states.


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Zeynep Yücel

The Effects of Transboundary Movements on Security and Stability

1 Introduction

In recent years, there has been a growing concern that massive movement of refugees and migrants poses a threat to state security. It is also claimed that massive transboundary movements create security challenges to international peace and stability so there is a need to more of restrictive policies on the state level. We believe this view is dangerously misleading. In fact the perception of transboundary movements as a threat gives rise to serious complications. Considering migration as a threat might lead to political instability and social disturbance. As a matter of fact migration can have significantly positive impacts on host country. In this article it is aimed to discuss how transboundary movements can affect the state security within the framework of the new security paradigm. In this respect, the factors that strengthen the complex interdependence between security and transboundary movements will be mentioned.

2 Societal Dimension of Security and Migration

It should first be noted that societal security is related to the issue of collective identity. Societal security dealing with the threats that are targeted to society’s identity and also society’s cohesion and/or homogeneity. In Waever’s words, “societal security concerns the ability of a society to persist in its essential character under changing conditions and possible or actual threats.” (Weaver, et al. 1993: p.23) In the security dimension of international migration it is claimed that there are some conditions in which citizens perceive their cultural, religious or national identities as threatened by immigrants. In this context “societies perceive a threat in identity terms.” (Waever, et al. 1993: p.23; Krause and Williams 1996:230) In other words the national values as a referent object is under threat. (Weiner, 1992:103) It is said that migration threatens identity and culture of a society by causing deterioration of social cohesion and also by leading a shift in the composition of nation.

The threat can be expressed as follow: (i) mass migration can give rise to instabilities, (ii) may cause a shift national composition; and (iii) in terms of time culture of migrants especially which has distinctive historical, lingual and ←81 | 82→religious roots may gain ascendancy over national culture. In fact the perceived threat allegedly created by immigration is a subjective threat and stems from how the host state defines it. (Weiner 1992:110) Some countries see the multiculturalism as an instability factor, on the contrary for some countries it is a merit of its own community.

In the period after the World War II, European states had transformed from homogeneous nation-states to heterogeneous ones. Since then new arguments related to difficulties in integrating immigrants into society are adversely affecting stability of the society and posing threat to the state security emerged. (Heisler and Layton-Henry 1993:158–162) Multiculturalism policy is also supported since national identity is defined differently in the countries that accept immigrants throughout history. The policies of these countries differ from those that see immigrants as a danger to their social unity and homogeneity.

The perceptions of whether or not immigrants are threat and therefore the immigration policies shaped by the historical experience of each countries. For instance, in some countries as in Canada, immigrants, asylum seekers and refugees are considered necessary for development; on the other hand, in some countries as in UK and Germany, they count as a risk factor for ethic and moral values of the nation. German chancellor Merkel said “multiculturalism has utterly failed” and “immigrants need to do more to integrate in German society”. British PM Cameron declared that multiculturalism prevents immigrants from finding a collective identity and it leaves them feeling rootles in England and as a result of this immigrants are drawn into violent extremism.

On the other hand, it is also argued that cultural diversity and multiculturalism have a significant contribution to combating discrimination. The function of multiculturalism can also be considered as organizing diversity in the society. Therefore, different cultures and religions etc. are accepted with more tolerance in some countries such as Canada (Esses et al. 2006:655) Cultural affinity is a socially constructed concept. This concept is constructed in such a way that other groups pose a threat and will not change over time. (Weiner 1992–1993:105). While a state perceives migration as a security threat, another state can support it as a policy. It is possible that migration is perceived differently between states. The different perception of migration among states shows that this is a political tendency. Migration can be transformed over time and therefore has a subjective nature rather than an objective threat.

The securitization of immigration as a security measure for the continuation of the existence of the national community is problematic. In the securitization process immigrants are labelled as the “other” and are excluded from society. ←82 | 83→Securitization of immigration “reproduces the political myth that a homogeneous national community or western civilization existed in the past and can be re-established today through the exclusion of those migrants who are identified as cultural aliens.” (Huysmans 2000:758) Securitization of immigration itself leads to xenophobia and racism by posing a greater threat to social security and stability than cultural differences.

3 Economic Dimension of Security and Immigration

It is claimed that migration also poses a threat to the state economy. It is a fact that immigration has economic impacts on host country as well as on the country of origin. Migration has both economic advantages and disadvantages. The widening of the definition of security has attracted more attention to the economic difficulties caused by immigration. As a result, migration is labeled as a security problem. Refugees, asylum seekers and also economic immigrants perceived to threaten the economic security of the state.

Labor migration is said to pose a threat to the economic security of states. From this point of view, the migration of skilled and qualified workers from developing countries to developed countries leads to negative consequences such as “brain drain” in the sending country. (Weiner 1992:95) Brain drain can be expressed as the outflow of knowledgeable and well educated individuals from their countries to another country in order to achieve better living and working conditions. Although developing countries may lose their highly skilled workers, this may be temporary. There is a possibility that qualified people may return to their own country through reverse migration. (Carr et al. 2005:387–388) In addition, remittances as a substantial source of external funding have a significant effect on the economic growth and development of the origin state. (De Haas 2005:1274; Adams and Page 2005) There are also studies showing that remittances are more stable than the flow of capital and such a source of income is more beneficial for the states. (Dilip 2005)

According to World Bank data, transfers flows to low- and middle-income countries (LMICs reached $ 466 billion, globally $613 billion in 2017. and it is expected that this figure continue to increase in following years. In many developing countries, remittances have been effective in reducing the percentage of the population living below the poverty line. For example, poverty line declined by 4.2 per cent in el Salvador (Campos and Palomo 2002) 11% in Uganda, 6 in Bangladesh, and 5 in Ghana. (Sharma 2009: 8; Ratha 2007: p.5; Dilip 2013; (Gupta, Pattillo, and Wagh 2007 Banga and Sahu; Dilip 2013; Yoshino, Taghizadeh-Hesary and Otsuka 2017)

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In this sense, economic security is directly related to human security. This aspect of migration has a positive effect on the conditions (economic, physical and financial etc.) of the origin country and its society. Labeling migration as a security issue looks at these advantages. These positive issues are overshadowed due to the perception of migration as a security problem.

Another positive economic effect of migration is related to remittances. Davis and Brazil (2016) show the improvements in left-behind children’s well-being through the increase in the purchasing power of migrant workers. It can be seen as a household’s livelihood strategy for alleviating poverty and malnutrition. Remittances has two benefits. Guest workers send remittances to own families who live in home countries. An amount of money is consumed; some are directed to investment. There are studies showing that these investments allow the strengthening of the infrastructure in the country. (Dilip 2005) In many developing countries, this revenue item has been effective in reducing the percentage of the population living below the poverty line. (11 % in Uganda, 6 % in Bangladesh and 5 % in Ghana, Sharma 2009: 8; Ratha 2007:5). They can increase the amount they send to their families who live on the hunger border. As a vital issue migrants increase the amount of money they send their families who live on the poverty line or the hunger threshold in economic hardtimes. (Dilip, 2005:164; Dilip 2013:5–6) Remittances also has positive effects on reducing the underemployment and unemployment problems. (Shah 1983) migration has both the effects of reducing poverty and strengthening the world economy (Clemens 2011)

It is discussed whether the impact of the migration on the labor market poses a threat to the economic security of the host country. Some studies argue that impact of migration on the labor market poses a threat to the economic security of the host country. There are some discussions that reflect these concerns. The following questions emerge in discussions: Do immigrants reduce workers’ wages in developed countries? In developed countries, do migrants strip native born workers of their jobs? (Guild 2009: 135) Actually they are not substitutes for all domestic workers. Some public surveys show that migrants reduce salaries, take jobs, and deepen economic problems in host country. (Somerville and Sumption 2009: 3). In order to justify restrictive immigration policies such arguments are widely used. In fact, these arguments are based on a perception rather than reflecting reality. According to some studies, the assumption that the number of jobs are determined by the number of people is not correct. (Stangler and Litan 2009; Friedberg and Hunt 1995: 42; Dustmann, et al. 2004). According to Dustman et al., there is no evidence to support the claim that immigrants take jobs away from native born workers. (2004:48). It is a fact that immigrants’s ←84 | 85→wages lower than native‐born workers in host countries. Studies show that these concerns do not reflect reality. (Powel, et al. 2017)

Some studies show that the difference will decrease over time as migrants gain work experience in the new country. These studies also point that education and language proficiency are also important in this process. (Portes and Rumbaut 2006: 87 91).

Although the economic impact of migration is different depending on the economic conditions of each country, migration affects the employment of the host country positively. (Islam 2007: 53). The study in 2007 examined the relationship between immigration and unemployment in Canada and concluded that immigration did not increase unemployment. (63). Migration may increase temporary unemployment. Nevertheless, this effect is eliminated when the state economy begins to adapt to the increase in labor supply. (Islam 2007: 63; Somerville and Sumuction 2009: 9).

In one study, it was found that in the long term, the demand side effects arose, wages improved, labor demand reappeared and native workers benefited from this process (İslam 2007:64). According to Somerville and Sumption (2009), even if the effects of migration is different in each state, the impact on wages is minimal. In the England, for example, most workers are not affected by their wages but are gaining immigration. (13–14).

Economic migration is not an absolute threat to the economic security of the states. It is claimed that, for example, educational and demographic changes and other factors on the labor market in host states have a much stronger impact. (Somerville and Sumption 2009: 3). Contrary to the perception that immigrants reduce wages and cause negative effects on the labor market and thus increase unemployment, immigration can actually increase job opportunities and strengthen the host country’s economy. (Borjas 2015)

It is also a matter of debate that migrants, especially refugees and asylum seekers, are a threat to the social security and welfare system of the host country. From this point of view, migration is not seen as an opportunity but a threat. Refugees and also asylum seekers are perceived as free-riders or freelancers who paralyze and exploit the welfare system of the industrialized host states. It should also be noted that there is growing concern that the welfare system of the host state will collapse due to migratory waves. (Huysmans 2006: 78–79).

It is also recognized that migrants are a serious economic threat, leading to settlement problems and shortage of housing and they also paralyzing the basic functions such as sanitation, education, health, communication, transportation services of the host country. (Weiner 1992–1993: 95, 114; Stivachtis 2008: 17). According to Weiner (1993), the use of welfare state services by migrants and ←85 | 86→refugees creates a negative reaction and leads to anger among the nation. (114). According to the citizens in the host states, migrants not only steal their jobs but also exploit all the facilities and benefits that the social states provide for their own citizens.

In fact it is a discourse that immigrants exploit the social system of the host country. When referring to refugees, concepts such as “influx “, “waves”, “invasion” are used intentionally. These concepts have a certain purpose. The aim here is to create a perception that immigrants poses a threat to economic security and thus make the issue appear more threatening by exaggerating the difficulties that need to be overcome (Huysmans 2000: 769).

The results of a study on media reveal that distorted reports and deliberately chosen concepts, such as “influx” “waves” etc., create a sense of fear and insecurity among the nation and reinforce negative perceptions of immigrants. (İGAM 2019) In addition, immigrants are easily accused of being responsible for socio-economic problems in the host country (Chimni 2000; Heisler and Layton-Henry 1993: 157).

There are studies that draw attention to the narratives that migration leads to stagnation and economic difficulties, gives rise to unrests due to social change in society, and causes insufficiency of institutional capacity. Anti-migration rhetoric is increasingly supported in host countries, thus economic, social and cultural problems arising from different reasons are easily attributed to migrants, so that migrants are easily turned into scapegoats. (Heisler and Layton-Henry 1993: 157). The perception of immigrants as “others” is related to security. The fact that immigrants are regarded as burdensome on the economy is closely linked to social and economic security because they are perceived as others.

Obviously, the claim that immigrants are a threat to the economic security of a state is greatly influenced by the wide range of trite related to, as well as misperceptions that stand out in the discourse. As Chimni states “Refugees are now seen as threatening a host country’s security by increasing demands on its scarce resources or threatening the security of regions by their mere presence. The fact that the perceptions can often be attributed to a policy of containment or to the absence of burden sharing is veiled by the language of security.” (Chimni 2000: 252) The increasing number of refugees and asylum seekers, in particular, constitutes a financial and fiscal difficulties for the host state to deal with, while the effects of migration on social services and social spending can vary from state to state throughout the period. By focusing on the short-term costs of migration, its long-term economic benefits should not be ignored. (Stevenson 2005) Stevenson, in his study of the impact of refugees, shows that the cost of social services for refugees and asylum seekers has been countervailed ←86 | 87→the medium term. (Stevenson, 2005). The fact that migrants are perceived as a threat to the welfare state by securitization of the immigrants, asylum seekers and refugees results in the exclusion of migrants with the claim that they do not have the right to benefit from social services.

According to Suhrke (2003) “applying a “security” perspective to examine the needs of “outsiders” and their relationship to the community typically involves assumptions of antagonistic relations and non-tradable interests. In other words, the negative effects often assumed to follow the “securitization” of the discourse on refugee movements that was associated with “societal security” in the 1990s are likely to occur even when the adjective is “human” rather than “societal.” (106–107).

4 Dimension of Internal Security and Immigration

There are also debates on the agenda that internal security is threatened by immigration. In fact, the view that internal security has been threatened by migrants has been expressed since the 80s. (Huysmans 2000: 756). Migration was linked to terrorism, international crimes and border control. After 11 September, immigration became concerned with the fight against terrorism and governments began to address migration together with terrorist acts by restricting immigration policies. (Aldırmaz, 2017; Spencer 2008:1; Edwards 2009: 776) In the United States, immigration has become a matter of national security. President Bush has declared his strategy of combating terrorism and his view of new immigration policy. In addition, Ministry of The United States Immigration and Citizenship Service would deal with the immigration which defined as a threat to internal security. Six weeks after 9/11, the US PATRIOT Act was introduced, allowing foreigners to monitor, tighten border controls and allow the government to arrest, prosecute and deport foreigners suspected of terror act. (Lebowitz and Podheiser) 2001–2002: 876). Migration policies and border control began to be used as a tool in the War on Terror. (Adamson 2006: 196) Many have argued that that migration policy should be restrained and restricted to maintain security of the state.

Terrorism is, in fact, a real threat, yet it should be scrutinized as to whether it is connected to immigration. Actually It is really difficult to examine terrorism because of the irregularity of the attacks and the fact that the terrorists’ common ideologies and political goals change over time and thus many potential factors that can convince someone to become a terrorist. (Fortna, 2015) In order to overcome these difficulties, it is necessary to empirically examine the correlation between immigration and terrorism. There are studies focusing on this research. ←87 | 88→(Bove and Bohmelt 2016; Dreher, Gassebner and Schaudt 2017; Braithwaite and Chu 2018)

Mueller does not accept the view that the lack of terrorist acts in the US is due to tightened border control and more rigid immigration policies. According to him, thousands of people crossing the border illegally enter the United States every day, while millions of people enter the US legally every year. Mueller claims that the argument about immigrants increasing the threat of terrorism is exaggerated. (Mueller 2006: 3–4).

One study argues that the relationship between illegal immigration and terrorism is constructed and it does not reflect the objective situation. (Saux 2007:63 It is argued that the perception of terrorism causes people to accuse certain people whom they think are not like themselves, to blame them and to create a separation between “them and “us”

Due to the attacks 2001 New York, 2003 Istanbul, 2004 Madrid, 2005 London, 2015 Paris, 2015 Ankara, 2016 Nice, 2016 Berlin, 2017 Istanbul, 2017 Mancester and London, 2017 Barcelona, migrants and asylum seekers began to be seen as potential terrorists and enemies as if they were planning and carrying out all the aforementioned acts of terror.

Hostility towards immigrants through political discourses and media has become widespread, and the efforts to relate immigration and terrorism to each other have increased. Tv reports and newspapers began to emphasize frequently that there is a connection between migration and crime.

In fact, refugees and asylum seekers have always been a part of international and international security debates. Even if immigrants are seen as victims or as a threat to state, security issue is decisive for the protection of refugees. This is why security perceptions are taken into account in discussions about immigrants. The concept of security was discussed in favor of refugees during the Cold War period. The international refugee regime is based on the understanding that emerged after the Second World War. By the 1950s, refugees gained importance for the geopolitical interests of States. It was perceived as a flow of people among the states that were political enemies. (Edwards 2009:774–775) Undoubtedly, in this period, governments always prioritized protecting security and strategic interests of states. Due to the acceleration of international migration and the increasing number of internal conflicts in the 1990s, refugees were perceived as criminals and even terrorists, evaluated as threats to national homogenity and to security of the state, and began to be viewed as threats to international peace and security. The refugees no longer offer the same geopolitical benefits to the state’s interests as the Cold War policy in the bipolar system.(Edwards 2009: 775)

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Immediately after the 9/11 attacks, the discourse has become widespread in the news and in political discussions that the non-implementation of immigration laws are required as a security measure. (Huysmans and Buonfino 2008: 768) Clearly, the alleged connection between immigration and terrorism has been strengthened through discourses. Migration and border control are two different issues. In fact, the terrorist attacks cannot be seen as a result of liberal immigration policies. In fact it is very difficult to identify people who pose a real threat to security and it is often not possible to prevent them from entering the country. This leads to security deficits. (Griswold 2001): Spencer draws attention to the problems arising from conceptualization and description of immigration. In many scientific papers, the difference between immigrants and foreigners is ignored. For example, the terrorists engaged in the 9/11 attack were not immigrants and came to the United States with temporary visas. It should be noted that immigrants are only a small part of the total foreigners in a state. (Spencer 2008:9). The problem here is that it is problematic because immigrants, especially those identified as Muslim or Middle-eastern, lead to alienation, exclusion and racism, which has a much more negative impact on society. (Adamson 2006: 196).

Biographical notes

Ufuk Bingöl (Volume editor)

Ufuk Bingöl is assistant professor at Bandırma Onyedi Eylül University, Turkey. His main interests are qualitative data analysis on policy debates on social networks, economics and social sciences.


Title: Immigration Policy Studies