In his new article, Martin Lemberg Pedersen investigates the concept of deportation corridors for unaccompanied Afghan minors in the context of the Nordic policy drive to deport unaccompanied minors to Afghanistan, with a focus on the rise and fall of the EU-funded European Return Platform for Unaccompanied Minors (ERPUM). By applying the notion of feasibility constraints, the article problematizes and rejects two nationalistic arguments for such deportations.
Martin Lemberg Pedersen uses the concept of deportation corridors as an analytical framework, from which the ERPUM project is examined. The concept of deportation corridors combines transnational processes and infrastructures, and is continuously shaped through geopolitics and diplomacy. In this context, the ERPUM project (2011-2014) was an attempt to launch the administrative mass deportation of unaccompanied minors from several European countries. The project was managed by Sweden, with participation by Norway, the Netherlands and UK, as well as Denmark and Belgium. The project failed to send back unaccompanied minors, but successfully facilitated legal reforms for deportation of this vulnerable group of children in several European countries. Part of the reason was that the project became a platform for different and often conflicting interests as the participating countries used it to promote their national priorities.
According to Lemberg Pedersen, two arguments have been dominant in Nordic deportation debates: The credibility argument claims that deportation corridors are necessarily to preserve a credible asylum system, which is able to differentiate between those who are granted legal protection and those who are not. The humanitarian argument claims that deportation of unaccompanied minors is the more humane alternative to spending years in the psychosocial limbo of expulsion camps. Both arguments are, however, subject to feasibility constraints: The first argument assumes asylum policies to be fair. But given that the system can be arbitrary and unfair, it can be legitimate to resist deportation. The second argument is becomes inconsistent since states paradoxically use appeals to humanitarian urgency in order to justify deportations, even though it is the states´ own actions, which create such urgency.
According to Lemberg-Pedersen, for all its emphasis on facts, nationalistic ethics seems to disregard crucial questions concerning institutional/structural and political ethical feasibility. It thereby leaves the issue of implementation underdetermined and seems to end up with the implausible view that the feasibility of ideals dictating UAM deportations need only be justified by referring to the pre-theoretical opinions and motivations of Nordic citizens, and not by any reference to the actual causes, choices, conditions and hazards of children in corridors or Afghanistan.
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Publication (2015): ERPUM and the Drive to Deport Unaccompanied minors