Legitimized Refugees: The Political Goal of a Regulated Immigration, and the Promise of Legal Certainty

In my doctoral thesis (manuscript submitted to supervisors), I am focusing on asylum cases decided at Sweden’s migration courts. More precisely, my study analyses how the highest legal instance, the Migration Court of Appeal (hereafter MCA), legitimizes decisions that concern asylum seekers. After conducting ten interviews with judges at Sweden’s four (second-instance) Migration Courts as well as at the (third-instance) MCA, l have reviewed more than 200 precedents (published 2006-2016) that concern people who have applied for residence permit in Sweden – among them many refugees. Following Roberts Stake’s approach to what he calls collective case studies, I have used the interviews to sample six precedents that I analyse in line with Norman Fairclough’s research agenda of critical discourse analysis. With the analysis of these six last-instance decisions, it can be exemplified how precedents of Swedish asylum law discursively represent 1) families with children, 2) class, race/ethnicity and religion, gender and sexuality, and 3) the policy of ‘regulated immigration’. The in-depth discussion of two precedents per theme thereby constitutes the structure of the study’s analysis: three empirical chapters, analysing two precedents per chapter.

In the third empirical chapter (draft circulated), which will be the basis of my presentation, two cases are read against the background of the in several precedents stated policy of ‘regulated immigration’. The first precedent concerns an asylum-seeking mother, whose possible expulsion to Malta in accordance with the Dublin-system is assessed against the backdrop of ‘regulated immigration’. In contrast, the second precedent deliberates on the question whether a father, who applied for asylum in Sweden already as teenager, can be forced to return his country of origin. This case’s central question is whether it is ‘reasonable’ that the father is expelled to his country of origin in order to apply for a Swedish residence permit from there.