Migration Definitions

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The European Migration Network (which is part of the European Commission) recently published the third edition of a very large glossary containing over 400 migration-related terms. The EMN state that one of the purposes of the glossary is for legislators and policy-makers at EU and national levels to have “up to date, reliable, factual information” about migration. While such a glossary is helpful in understanding migration more broadly (particularly for students who are interested in migration), some of the terminology used is questionable: for example, the use of “alien” (while probably based on national legislation, is still used several times to refer migrants), “illegal immigrant”, “absconding”, “asylum shopper”, and “mass influx”. This wide-ranging terminology is presented as “reliable” and “factual”, which functions to legitimize any underlying negative connotations inherent within those terms. I have discussed migration terminology several times on this site, and in several academic publications, nevertheless, once again, I must highlight the significance of terminology use, especially by large influential institutions. Although we require definitions for further understanding and clarity, I think that at a very basic level, we can (and should) move beyond referring to people as aliens.

The full document is available here. The EMN Ireland website is available at: http://www.emn.ie/