Legalization, transnationalism, and integration: the case of Senegalese migration in Europe

Cris Beauchemin, Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED)
Erik Vickstrom, Princeton University

Many European countries have embarked on a variety of legalization schemes for resident irregular migrants over the past twenty years. Previous research on Latin American migration to the United States has found that incorporation in the host society does not weaken transnational practices (Itzigsohn and Saucedo 2002), but the relationship between transnationalism and immigrant integration in European societies remains unexplored. We wish to test the relationship between the legal and political dimension of immigrant integration embodied in changes in legal status and the social, cultural, and economic dimension of integration evidenced in transnational practices. Does legalization – a move towards fuller legal inclusion in the host society – lead to a decrease in transnational activities that connect migrants to their sending communities? We hypothesize that the impact of legalization will differ across countries according with different contexts of reception of immigrants. We also hypothesize that the impact of legalization will vary with the type of transnational activity, with legalization promoting some kinds of connections with home communities (such as the ability to circulate between origin and destination) while perhaps attenuating other kinds of transnational activities. Our final hypothesis concerns the link between transnational practices, legalization, and integration in the host society: instead of a monotonic relationship between integration and transnational practices, we expect that the interaction of legal status and measures of integration will have varying impacts on the transnational practices of migrants in European societies. These hypotheses will be tested through quantitative techniques looking specifically at the Senegalese population. We will thus bring new evidence on the understanding of African migration, a flow of special interest for European policy makers. More specifically, we will contribute to a better understanding of the process and consequences of legalization.

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Presented in Session 57: Transnational relations between origin and destination