Nando Sigona (Senior Researcher at COMPAS and Research Officer at the Refugee Studies Centre)
The literature on irregular migration emphasises the fear of deportation, or ‘deportability’, as a central experience in the lives of migrants without a regularised legal status. Deportability impacts on livelihood strategies, social relations and the ability to make any plans for the future. Drawing on data from 75 in-depth qualitative interviews with young undocumented migrants in England, this paper investigates the multiple and interconnected impacts of deportability in the social and economic lives of these young migrants. The paper will examine the strategies used by undocumented migrants to remain hidden and the ways in which fear of deportation intersects with key social variables such as gender, life cycle, age, country of origin, length of stay in England and significantly the initial reason for migration. Overall, the paper aims to contribute to a more nuanced understanding how deportability shapes undocumented migrants’ experiences and coping strategies.