migration: undocumented/illegal 3031

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migration:
undocumented/illegal

Joanna Hadjicostandi

Illegal migration involves people moving away
from a country of origin to another country in
which they reside in violation of local citizen
ship laws. Entry into the receiving country can
be legal (student, temporary work, or tourist
visas) or illegal (crossing the border from
places other than the legal entry ports). Illegal
immigration has been studied widely and sys
tematically only in the past two decades, partly
because of the difficulties involved in obtaining
information. The literature shows that illegal
immigrants in most countries share certain
characteristics closely related to their position
of insecurity, fear, and precarious existence.
Multiple reasons lead to peoples movement
from their country of origin to another illegally.
Typically, illegal immigrants seek better liveli
hoods for themselves and their families, or seek
to avoid persecution. Lack of and/or poor sta
tistical recording systems and the illegal status
and high spatial mobility of migrants make the
measurement of numbers extremely unreliable.
Nonetheless, examples from Southern Europe,
the US, and Canada here will illustrate a few
commonalities as well as differences.
Southern Europe has played a major role
in shaping the global map of migration during
the last few centuries. In the early 1980s it
witnessed a remarkable migration turnaround
from emigration to immigration both return
migration in the 1970s and early 1980s and the
great influx of Eastern European, African, and
Asian nationals. Reasons for the rapid change
are multiple. They include the changes that
happened in Eastern Europe and the effects
of globalization on people in third world
countries. Another is local changes, which
include some economic growth, characterized
by increasing tertiarization and prevalence of
small scale family enterprise, along with the
development of segmented labor markets with
large informal sectors. Further, the seasonal
nature of intensive agriculture and construc
tion, and the need for technologically backward
areas of the economies to survive global com
petitiveness, have increased the demand for a
flexible non unionized, cheap labor force able
to move from place to place on short notice.
Migrant workers typically operate within the
informal labor market. Migrants find it easier
to enter Southern European countries, either
settling or using them as a step towards moving
northwards. Southern Europe has become an
alternative to traditional more desirable des
tination countries with strict frontier controls.
Another reason is the proximity of Southern
Europe to the countries of migrants (North
Africa, the Balkans, Eastern Mediterranean)
and the long coastlines, numerous islands, and
mountainous border regions which are almost
impossible to seal (King 2000). Cross border
smuggling has become important in relation to
the massive flow of Albanians into Italy and
Greece. Ease of entry is also related to inade
quate immigration policies, weak mechanisms
for controlling migration flows, and national
bureaucracies.
According to Lazaridis and Poyago Theotoky
(1999) migrants from Eastern Europe are
employed in six segments or niches of the
Southern European labor market, some of which
are monopolized by one gender. We find males
working as seasonal agricultural workers in
periods when demand is high, as well as in
construction. Many nationalities are involved,
including nationals of the former Yugoslavia
in Madrid, and Ukrainians, Albanians, and
Poles in Athens. Some are employed in small
manufacturing and artisan workshops, others
in tourism and catering (males and females).
Street hawkers are all males, but females domi
nate domestic service, some as live in servants,
others on a live out basis (Lazaridis 2000). Other
females are involved in the sex industry. Each
of these occupations involves some interaction
with local people, but because they operate
through the informal sector, with no contracts
or welfare provisions, and with wages below the