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Rebordering Britain & Britons after Brexit

Conditional citizens and hostile environments: Polish migrants in pre-Brexit Britain

Abstract

This article explores recent shifts in the governance of British migration and welfare regimes, considering how far a so called `authoritarian turn' (Tyler, 2018) in immigration policy has reached into the everyday lives of Polish migrants - a population nominally protected by mobile EU citizenship status in the UK. Theoretically framed by debates about racialised govemmentality, everyday bordering and conditionality, the discussion draws on a series of in-depth interviews undertaken with Poles in late 2017 into early 2018. Firstly, the article makes important contributions to understanding how broader hostile environment and welfare bordering policies are affecting people who hold more secure migration statuses - not only those deemed `illegal' - and how this is in turn shaped both by whiteness and by socio-economic position. It also documents the relevance Brexit has to these developments and the future security of EU citizens. But it also underlines how the protections that freedom of movement extend are currently still significant, despite efforts to erode them. Hostile environment, welfare reforms, even Brexit - these were all present in our respondents' narratives, but not dominant. The discussions analysed here then bring a more nuanced appreciation of how different people come up against the state and the everyday border, as well as how these encounters are made sense of in an interview setting. They highlight the importance of acknowledging a wider range of the sources of power which shape everyday lives, from relationships to experiences in the workplace, in which hostile environment encounters and Brexit anxieties are contextualised.

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Geoforum

Authors

Kathy Burrell (United Kingdom)

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