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Undocumented in the time of pandemic: exploring legal violence, health care and human rights of irregular Filipino migrants in Italy and the UK

Ron Bridget T. Vilog (Department of International Studies, De La Salle University, Manila, Philippines)
Carlos M. Piocos III (Department of Literature, De La Salle University, Manila, Philippines)

International Journal of Human Rights in Healthcare

ISSN: 2056-4902

Article publication date: 10 June 2021

Issue publication date: 22 July 2021

5398

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine the effects of states’ pandemic responses to the conditions and vulnerabilities of undocumented Filipino migrants in Italy and the UK. It also explores the role and strategies of migrant organisations in addressing the issues and concerns of undocumented workers.

Design/methodology/approach

Qualitative approaches are used to collect and analyse the narratives of the migrants and migrant organisations. This paper used government reports, policy briefs and documents from international organisations in analysing the socio-political vulnerabilities of undocumented migrants in the context of the global pandemic. In addition, we interviewed leaders of migrant organisations, which are involved in supporting irregular migrants.

Findings

The study reveals that states have exercised a regime of legitimate violence against undocumented workers in Italy and the UK. This regime is imposed not only by the stringent laws and policies that directly and indirectly cause economic, social and even cultural suffering to the migrants but also by the “symbolic violence” manifested in structural and social inequalities, and the exploitative economic order amid the pandemic. Responding to the “regime of fear”, migrant organisations provide immediate relief and “safe spaces” for the undocumented workers.

Originality/value

The paper contributes to the ongoing conversation on state practices in regulating migration by framing the conditions of undocumentation as legal violence that structurally deprives irregular migrants access to health care and human rights amid global health crisis.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors wish to acknowledge Godwil Coronel Magat for providing assistance in gathering materials and transcribing interviews.

Citation

Vilog, R.B.T. and Piocos III , C.M. (2021), "Undocumented in the time of pandemic: exploring legal violence, health care and human rights of irregular Filipino migrants in Italy and the UK", International Journal of Human Rights in Healthcare, Vol. 14 No. 3, pp. 209-222. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJHRH-09-2020-0072

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

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