Migration to Britain: Racism, State Regulation and Employment

  • Robert Miles
  • Paula Cleary


In order to understand British state responses to refugee migra¬tions in the recent past, it is necessary to outline the broader historical and political context in which these responses have developed. This is because the admission of refugees has been influenced by the evolution of an ideological conjunction of the idea of ‘race’ with immigration. Since 1945, a specific notion of ‘immigration’ has been constructed within the British political process which represents only particular groups of people as immigrants or migrants. This notion equates ‘immigrant’ with those who during the 1950s and early 1960s were termed ‘coloured people’ and who are now usually described as either ‘Black people’ or ‘ethnic minorities’. This signification tends to override other forms of categorisation and distinction, such as that between refugee and labour migrations. Hence, in this popular, racialised discourse (Miles, 1989a), ‘immigrants’ are by definition ‘Black’ people, irrespective of whether or not formally they are migrants or have the legal status of refugee.


Ethnic Minority Indian Subcontinent Race Relation European Economic Community Labour Shortage 
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Copyright information

© Refugee Studies Programme 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert Miles
  • Paula Cleary

There are no affiliations available

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