Punishing Those Who Do the Wrong Thing

af Eve Dickson | dec 2020 | Article

Eve Dickson and Rachel Rosen (2020)  “Punishing Those Who Do the Wrong Thing”: Enforcing Destitution and Debt through the Uk’s Family Migration Rules. Critical Social Policy (online first)

In 2012, the ‘no recourse to public funds’ (NRPF) condition was extended to long-standing migrant families in the UK who had previously achieved rights to residence and welfare through human rights mechanisms. Through close examination of policy, political statements, and media coverage, we make the case that the NRPF extension was – and continues to be – intentionally subjugating and punitive, most aptly understood as a policy of enforced destitution and debt imposed on negatively-racialised post-colonial subjects. In drawing out the implications of our argument, we point to time, destitution, and debt as core technologies of the UK’s migration regime, alongside everyday bordering, detention, and deportability. Denying support through NRPF serves to exclude putatively included migrants while normalising conditional approaches to social support. Our article reveals why moral arguments against NRPF based on destitution fail and suggests that challenging welfare bordering requires a more systemic appraisal of policy frames, intentions and effects.

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