Manchester sociologist says illegal immigration crackdowns are counterproductive

Alice Bloch and Sonia McKay recently penned “Living on the Margins: Undocumented Migrants in a Global City.”
Alice Bloch and Sonia McKay recently penned “Living on the Margins: Undocumented Migrants in a Global City.” | File photo
University of Manchester sociologist Alice Bloch recently co-authored a book that looks into how restrictive immigration laws may do more harm than good despite regular calls to tighten immigration requirements and enforcement.

Bloch and Sonia McKay from the University of West England recently penned “Living on the Margins: Undocumented Migrants in a Global City.” The book paid particular attention to the effects tough sanctions against companies that employ illegal immigrants have. Their findings indicate that harsher penalties on those companies do very little to deter the exploitation of undocumented immigrants.

Another major theme of the book is that many policymakers don’t understand the situations many undocumented workers are living in. For many, they write, there is no going back to their home countries. Levying harsh penalties on them and their employers won’t stop them from taking what is often exploitative or illegal work.

Penalties aimed at companies “carry the effect of encouraging exploitative labour market practices, as employers offset the risk of being caught by keeping wages down,” Bloch wrote. “If penalties go up, this will serve to push them even lower… With the risk not just of deportation but of prison, [current policies] fail to recognise that for many migrants there is no way back; they are working not to break the law but to repay their migration costs and start a new life.”

The book is published by Policy Press and hit the shelves last month.

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