When, where, and how do asylum seekers encounter the state? Anyone seeking asylum in the Global North might meet state authorities of the country where they want to apply for international protection long before arriving at its borders. However, if the state often becomes “very present” by transcending its geopolitical margins in border control, once asylum seekers have managed to cross into national territory, the state frequently vanishes. Insufficient information, opaque proceedings, and difficulties in reaching state agencies, which dramatically increased with the COVID pandemic, often translate into a denial of asylum seekers’ rights and their exclusion from welfare programs. Moreover, following a widespread tendency to outsource public services, access to asylum and related welfare programmes are being increasingly mediated by a range of nonstate actors (such as NGOs, activist groups, companies, and individuals) acting as state agents. Drawing on the analysis of ethnographic results from Spain and Italy, this article proposes the concept of “ghost bureaucracy” to theorise the street-level bureaucrats from their absence and explore asylum seekers’ encounters with a seemingly powerful and omnipresent but unreachable state through closed offices, digital bureaucracy and third-party actors.

Governing Asylum without ''Being There": Ghost Bureaucracy, Outsourcing, and the Unreachability of the State

Borelli, C
;
2023-01-01

Abstract

When, where, and how do asylum seekers encounter the state? Anyone seeking asylum in the Global North might meet state authorities of the country where they want to apply for international protection long before arriving at its borders. However, if the state often becomes “very present” by transcending its geopolitical margins in border control, once asylum seekers have managed to cross into national territory, the state frequently vanishes. Insufficient information, opaque proceedings, and difficulties in reaching state agencies, which dramatically increased with the COVID pandemic, often translate into a denial of asylum seekers’ rights and their exclusion from welfare programs. Moreover, following a widespread tendency to outsource public services, access to asylum and related welfare programmes are being increasingly mediated by a range of nonstate actors (such as NGOs, activist groups, companies, and individuals) acting as state agents. Drawing on the analysis of ethnographic results from Spain and Italy, this article proposes the concept of “ghost bureaucracy” to theorise the street-level bureaucrats from their absence and explore asylum seekers’ encounters with a seemingly powerful and omnipresent but unreachable state through closed offices, digital bureaucracy and third-party actors.
2023
12
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/10278/5020621
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