Academic journal article Refuge

"Imposter-Children" in the UK Refugee Status Determination Process

Academic journal article Refuge

"Imposter-Children" in the UK Refugee Status Determination Process

Article excerpt


This article describes and analyzes an emerging problematic in the asylum and immigration debate, which I cynically dub the "imposter-child" phenomenon. My preliminary exploration maps how the imposter-child relates to and potentially influences the politics and practices of refugee status determination in the United Kingdom. I argue that the "imposter-child" is being discursively constructed in order to justify popular and official suspicion of spontaneously arriving child asylum-seekers in favour of resettling refugees from camps abroad. I also draw connections between the discursive creation of 'imposter-children' and the diminishment of welfare safeguarding for young people. Further complicating this situation is a variety of sociocultural factors in both Afghanistan and the United Kingdom, including the adversarial UK refugee status determination process, uncertainty around how the United Kingdom can "prove" an age, and a form of "triple discrimination" experienced by Afghan male youth. Through unearthing why the "imposter-child" is problematic, I also query why it is normatively accepted that non-citizens no longer deserve protection from the harshest enforcement once they "age out" of minor status.


Cet article decrit et analyse une problematique emergente dans le debat sur l'asile et l'immigration, queje denomme d'une facon cynique le phenomene des <>. Mes explorations preliminaires demarquent comment <> est relie aux politiques et pratiques de determination du statut de refugie au Royaume-Uni, et comment il les influence potentiellement. Je soutiens que l'enfant-imposteur est constitue comme discours afin de justifier la mefiance populiste ainsi qu'officielle a l'egard des chercheurs d'asiles qui sont issus des arrivees spontanees, pour favoriser plutot la reinstallation de refugies arrivant de camps a l'etranger. Je trace egalement des liens entre la creation discursive de ces <> et la reduction des aides sociales publiques pour les jeunes personnes. Cette situation est rendue encore plus compliquee par divers facteurs socioculturels en Afghanistan ainsi qu'au Royaume-Uni, dont notamment le processus antagoniste de determination du statut de refugie au Royaume-Uni (DSR), l'incertitude autour de la <> d'age dans le pays, et une forme de <> subie par les jeunes Afghans de sexe masculin. En faisant ressortir les raisons pour lesquelles l'enfant-imposteur est problematique, j'interroge egalement pourquoi il est normativement acceptable que les non-citoyens ne meritent plus d'etre proteges des activites coercitives et d'execution de reglements les plus severes une fois qu'ils ont depasse << l'age limite>> de statut de mineur.

Introduction (1)

In the United Kingdom, refugee status determination (RSD) is a declaratory process performed usually in an administrative tribunal to adjudicate whether spontaneously arriving asylum-seekers should be granted asylum and its accompanying protection against removal. (2) RSD is founded on a definition of the refugee elaborated in the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol (the Refugee Convention). Along with some other vulnerable groups identified during screening, unaccompanied or separated asylum-seeking children (3) are granted access to preferential treatment over adults while navigating the UK RSD process. This access includes entitlements to housing and legal aid, and a staying of detention and deportation orders until the claimant "ages out" of the protective shield of child status.

The special protections for children in the RSD process are increasingly valuable and sought out in a world of 65.3 million forcibly displaced people, of whom 11 million are child refugees and asylum-seekers searching for safety. In 2015,88,245 unaccompanied or separate children applied for asylum in the EU, including 3,045 in the United Kingdom, representing an increase of 56 per cent from the previous year. …

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