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Accepted Paper:

The Mobility Experts: Circumnavigating Mobility Rules in the Atlantic Migration Route to Europe  
Ignacio Fradejas-García (University of Oviedo) Kristín Loftsdóttir (University of Iceland)

Paper short abstract:

Lawyers are integrative part of regulatory systems of mobility. This proposal seeks to disentangle the expertise of lawyer’s labour within the daily practice of helping migrants while dealing with unequal regimes of mobility of the European Union.

Paper long abstract:

Working within and outside of official structures, lawyers are essential actors in mobility regimes. Lawyers are experts in humanitarian, hosting and asylum systems, and their legal assistance is vital for refugees, asylum seekers and migrants in irregular situations who face detention, deportation, expulsion, and/or exclusion. Often, lawyers work as volunteers, activists or workers for a local or international NGOs, but they also represent state bodies or supranational organizations.

In this article we follow the strategies and tactics of lawyers as experts on the mobility game of disputing mobility regulations, to shed light on the process of ruling essential and non-essential mobilities during the new circumstances of pandemic mobilities. The discussion bases on ethnographic fieldwork on irregular migration to the Canary Islands during the first two years of the coronavirus pandemic. In the Canaries, mobility rules were arbitrarily and illegally applied as an excuse to immobilized to few thousand African migrants in transit to the EU in the archipelago, in contravention of the Schengen rules. We show how a single court win by activist lawyers changed some rules that immobilized people on islands that were just one stage in their mobility trajectories.

While lawyers have an important role in litigation with the state, we argue, that they are also counsellors in vital decisions for essential mobilities of precarious migrants, and legal mediators/brokers/translators between plural legal systems, facilitating the communication between the people on the move and the ruling apparatus (e.g., police officers, civil servants, migration and border agents, etc.).

Panel P010a
Navigating hurdles and pacing (im)mobilities in times of corona [AnthroMob Network] I
  Session 1 Wednesday 27 July, 2022, -