Do rights violations deter refugees?
May 19, 2022
Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, May 2022
Do crackdowns by destination countries deter refugees? Much of the existing literature conflates containment measures (forcibly restricting refugees in their home region or country) and deterrence policies (discouraging refugees by making the destination appear less attractive). In addition, empirical studies have focused almost exclusively on Western countries and analyzed the effects of acceptance rates or policy reforms on the number of asylum applications lodged. In contrast, this paper examines whether rights violations deter asylum-seekers and refugees by leveraging a global dataset drawn from reports by the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants. I find that deportation, detention, and encampment are not associated with decreases in asylum applications or refugee arrivals, and may actually be correlated with increases in them in some cases. While reduced access to the labour market may deter very small numbers of asylum-seekers and refugees, there are other sound reasons for destination countries to eschew restrictive employment policies.
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