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Awareness and Migration: Organizations for bi-national family Rights Empowerment

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The importance of civil society organisations in the protection of binational families' rights

EU-funded researchers applied an action-research approach to studying migration policies and administrative practices that regulate access to citizenship and residence permits. The particular focus was on binational married families formed by an EU citizen and a third country national (TCN).

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A TCN residing in an EU Member State is subject to specific administrative practices and regulations that also affect the EU spouse in binational families. The project AMORE (Awareness and migration: Organizations for bi-national family rights empowerment) examined the unintended consequences of migration policies for the TCN spouse, but also for the EU citizens in order to address at what point such policies and practices negatively impact family life freedom (a universal human right). The research team conducted fieldwork in Belgium, France and Italy, focusing on local practices in Brussels, Strasbourg and Turin. They employed an ethnographic research method and participant observation in associations defending binational families' rights. After mapping the associations that deal with binational family for legal and social reasons, four associations have been chosen in each city and observed. AMORE interviewed members of EU-level policy groups and family organisations, bodies that monitor and act on changes to family migration law. At least two members of associations and other groups concerned with the rights of binational families and migrants have been interviewed. In parallel, in each city, the team collected life stories of 10 binational families with a Moroccan partner. Finally, researchers also interviewed ten policemen in charge of controlling and dealing with binational unions as well as six state agents in order to better contextualised the perspective of the associations and of the couples. In addition, they used four informal groups (two in Brussels, one in Strasbourg and a European platform) and their activities and actions (carried out during the project's mandate) as case studies thanks to an in-depth participant observation. This participative approach enhanced the project's action-research potential and supported innovative perspectives in research on family migration policies and binationality. Preliminary findings have been presented at 13 conferences worldwide, a number of papers have been produced, and a book has been completed. A final seminar, 'Bi-national Family Day', has been scheduled for January 2017 where the outcomes of this project and related research will be presented. The seminar will focus on legal consciousness and cause lawyering as intended both by couples and members of civil society – the two topics chosen to expand on AMORE outcomes. The outcomes will be shared with invited speakers working in United Kingdom and Germany on topics highly connected to AMORE. The study of civil society and of family members legal consciousness are currently lacking in public policies research. AMORE results thus have implications for future research on family migration. Overall, the work affords a more detailed and full understanding of the impact of various political and administrative factors on the lives of binational families.


Civil society, binational families, migration, migration policies, legal expertise, AMORE

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