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Three - Migration: motives, journey and status mobility

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 September 2022

Sonia McKay
Affiliation:
University of the West of England
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Summary

“I travelled by all sorts of means. Sometimes we travelled by lorry; sometimes walked, we had to climb mountains … We actually didn't know where we were as we were on the move. You travel through different places along the way. There are different ways to go west … The snakeheads can get everything done for you. All you need to do is pay them the money … There were six of us inside the container. Three Chinese and three Asian guys. The lorry came to a stop in the middle of nowhere and someone opened the door; we jumped out of the container. None of us knew where we were. We didn't know that we were already in the UK.” (Hai, male, from China)

Hai is one of 17 interviewees (Table 3.1) who entered the UK clandestinely. He came to the UK aged 23 and was looking to see something of the world. The UK had not been a planned destination for him but was simply where he had ended up. Destinations, he said, were a matter of ‘fate’; in his experience it was the snakeheads that decided routes and destinations. In China he had worked on the land and described himself as a ‘peasant’, which meant he had no transferable skills. His experiences in the UK have been a succession of short-term jobs in and outside of London that started with cockle picking, but have included working in kitchens and selling DVDs. He has not attempted to regularise his status, fearing the formal registration and finger printing that occurs when seeking asylum.

The focus of this chapter is on migration journeys and routes into becoming undocumented. There is no one experience of these processes; instead they combine with structural barriers and immigration policies, personal circumstances, opportunities and resources, both economic and social (Geddes, 2005; Hagan, 2008; Koser, 2008; Bloch, Sigona and Zetter, 2011; Schuster, 2011). In Chapter Two we introduced some of the main structural barriers in place at the level both of the EU and of the nation state, noting how immigration controls can in fact be counterproductive, ‘with new controls producing new evasions’ (Geddes, 2005: 330). This includes the flourishing of the migration industry as a lucrative and sometimes necessary business that can and does offer returns for all parties involved (Koser, 2008).

Type
Chapter
Information
Living on the Margins
Undocumented Migrants in a Global City
, pp. 51 - 74
Publisher: Bristol University Press
Print publication year: 2016

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