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From social instrument to migration management tool: assisted voluntary return programmes : the case of Belgium

Ine Lietaert (UGent) , Eric Broekaert (UGent) and Ilse Derluyn (UGent)
(2017) SOCIAL POLICY & ADMINISTRATION. 57(7). p.961-980
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Abstract
The return of migrants to their country of origin and the development of efficient return measures have become more prominent on the political agenda of many Western European countries. Since policymakers prefer ‘voluntary’ return, governmental programmes to support the return of migrants – Assisted Voluntary Return (AVR) programmes – were developed as far back as the 1970s and have played an increasingly important role in migration policy over the last three decades. At the same time, general migration policy and welfare systems have undergone profound change, including in the meanings and connotations attached to social welfare, return support and return policy. This raises questions about the implications of these broader societal and policy changes for the widely implemented AVR programmes. In this article, we discuss the interpretation and evolution of AVR programmes by analyzing how one particular European country, Belgium, has developed its AVR programme over time. We explore the evolution of the programme’s content, target group and institutional positioning, which shed light on its changing goals and are closely linked to a broader shift towards a ‘managerial’ approach to migration policy and the welfare state. We argue that return support may become decontextualized when it adopts ‘conditional entitlement’ as a central principle. This leads to strong differentiation, based on personal responsibility, between ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ migrants, the levelling down of the support given to returnees, and a more coercive voluntary return policy in which social support is linked to deportation.
Keywords
Migration management, Belgium, Assisted voluntary return programmes, Return policy

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Citation

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Chicago
Lietaert, Ine, Eric Broekaert, and Ilse Derluyn. 2017. “From Social Instrument to Migration Management Tool: Assisted Voluntary Return Programmes : the Case of Belgium.” Social Policy & Administration 57 (7): 961–980.
APA
Lietaert, I., Broekaert, E., & Derluyn, I. (2017). From social instrument to migration management tool: assisted voluntary return programmes : the case of Belgium. SOCIAL POLICY & ADMINISTRATION, 57(7), 961–980.
Vancouver
1.
Lietaert I, Broekaert E, Derluyn I. From social instrument to migration management tool: assisted voluntary return programmes : the case of Belgium. SOCIAL POLICY & ADMINISTRATION. 2017;57(7):961–80.
MLA
Lietaert, Ine, Eric Broekaert, and Ilse Derluyn. “From Social Instrument to Migration Management Tool: Assisted Voluntary Return Programmes : the Case of Belgium.” SOCIAL POLICY & ADMINISTRATION 57.7 (2017): 961–980. Print.
@article{8029562,
  abstract     = {The return of migrants to their country of origin and the development of efficient return measures have become more prominent on the political agenda of many Western European countries. Since policymakers prefer {\textquoteleft}voluntary{\textquoteright} return, governmental programmes to support the return of migrants -- Assisted Voluntary Return (AVR) programmes -- were developed as far back as the 1970s and have played an increasingly important role in migration policy over the last three decades. At the
same time, general migration policy and welfare systems have undergone profound change, including
in the meanings and connotations attached to social welfare, return support and return policy. This raises questions about the implications of these broader societal and policy changes for the widely implemented AVR programmes. In this article, we discuss the interpretation and evolution of AVR programmes by analyzing how one particular European country, Belgium, has developed
its AVR programme over time. We explore the evolution of the programme{\textquoteright}s content, target group and institutional positioning, which shed light on its changing goals and are closely linked to a broader shift towards a {\textquoteleft}managerial{\textquoteright} approach to migration policy and the welfare state. We argue that return support may become decontextualized when it adopts {\textquoteleft}conditional entitlement{\textquoteright} as a central
principle. This leads to strong differentiation, based on personal responsibility, between {\textquoteleft}deserving{\textquoteright} and {\textquoteleft}undeserving{\textquoteright} migrants, the levelling down of the support given to returnees, and a more coercive voluntary return policy in which social support is linked to deportation.},
  author       = {Lietaert, Ine and Broekaert, Eric and Derluyn, Ilse},
  issn         = {0144-5596},
  journal      = {SOCIAL POLICY \& ADMINISTRATION},
  keyword      = {Migration management,Belgium,Assisted voluntary return programmes,Return policy},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {7},
  pages        = {961--980},
  title        = {From social instrument to migration management tool: assisted voluntary return programmes : the case of Belgium},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/spol.12185},
  volume       = {57},
  year         = {2017},
}

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