Managing 'Mass Marine Migrant Arrivals': The Sun Sea, Anti-Smuggling Policy and the Transformation of the Refugee Label
Ranford-Robinson, Corey Jay
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Managing mass marine migrant arrivals: The Sun Sea, anti-smuggling policy and the transformation of the refugee label, examines the Canadian governments response to the arrival of the Sun Sea, a ship with 492 Sri Lankan asylum-seekers onboard. After the ship's arrival and to prevent future asylum vessels from coming to Canada, the federal government implemented a new anti-smuggling policy, the Migrant Smuggling Prevention Strategy. In examining this new policy, this dissertation pursues two questions: first, how, under what conditions, and with what effects are people that enlist smugglers labelled irregular arrivals, i.e. bogus rather than genuine refugees? Second, how is the identity of smuggled asylum-seekers constructed, transformed and politicized in the context of anti-smuggling policy? Using a reformulated conceptual framework of labelling, Managing mass marine migrant arrivals responds to these questions by drawing on interviews and access to information requests with the federal governments agencies of migration management. I argue that the legal ambiguity, classificatory struggles, and interpretive controversies surrounding the refugee label and its sub-categories allow the Canadian government to manage and, indeed, pre-emptively label, delegitimize and deny, the refugee claims of asylum-seekers that enlist the services of smugglers. The analysis reveals the instrumentality of anti-smuggling policy and its role in what Roger Zetter (2007) calls the fractioning of the refugee category into various pejorative sub-categories that restrict access to asylum and the rights of refugee status. The transformation of the refugee label in and through anti-smuggling policy thus serves as a means of restricting asylum-seekers from accessing the rights and procedural protections of refugee status.