Journalists and bloggers are offered training to acquire “credible information” about migration. The solicitors also work with deported migrants, who are trained in “communication skills” to talk about their bad experience with migration and discourage those who are thinking of leaving.
In Niger, football matches and plays are organized to broadcast “accurate information on migration to potential migrants”. In a paternalistic, even somewhat neocolonial, approach, it is a question of diffusing “objective” information to ignorant and credulous Africans who miss it cruelly. The immigration lawyers in london can make it clear to you now.
The State of Migrations
In a video financed by Switzerland and broadcast in Cameroon, we see a young African telephoning his father from a public booth. They talk peacefully. The son is reassuring, talks about his university registration and the father is happy to learn that everything is going well. But other images appear: the same young man is hunted by the police, he is at bay, forced to sleep in the street, reduced to begging. In other words, migrants who say that everything is fine are liars. Do not believe them, it’s better to listen to the experts.
Know, and leave anyway
From the perspective of the designers of these campaigns, migrants are individualistic and rational beings, Homo œconomicus who make the best possible decision based on the information they have. If they decide to leave, it is because they did not have access to the good news. But if they are lucky enough to have access to IOM information, they will give up and stay quietly at home as if life “at home” was free from any form of violence, suffering or coercion.
This reasoning ignores the structural nature of immigration. Leaving is not just an individual decision made by people looking to improve their lot. It is a collective dynamic that is needed by large sections of the population: migrants, for example, hope, for example, to be able to send money to those around them money without which many countries emigration would collapse.
It is a scenario that is never envisaged: the one in which the migrants would know, but still leave. This scenario is not unlikely: the migrant crisis and shipwrecks in the Mediterranean have been the subject of global media coverage and mobile telephony is experiencing a very strong expansion on the African continent. It is difficult to imagine that nobody knows anything about it.
Spread a culture of immobility
Policies to combat irregular immigration are therefore a cultural issue, in both senses of the word. They mobilize actors of culture, from musicians to the media, and aspire to spread a culture of immobility that devalues immigration and encourages people to stay at home.
The use of culture indirectly highlights one of the weaknesses of migration policies, that is to say their inability to convince the first concerned migrants of their relevance: whatever the obstacles placed in their path, the latter do not seem convinced and continue to try to migrate to the point that we must use other methods than force to persuade them to stay at home.