Feher, L. L. B. (2020). Overstaying Their (Un)Welcome: The Trials and Tribulations of Young Migrants in the "Country of Human Rights". Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.14418/wes01.1.2280
The aim of this thesis is to expose Europe’s hospitality crisis through the lens of the journeys and experiences of unaccompanied minors who struggle to obtain recognition in Paris, France. Their stories shed a stark light on the strategies deployed by state actors in order to prevent migrants from entering Europe, and to make life impossible for those who manage to reach European shores. While exposing the increasingly overt xenophobia displayed by European and, in particular, French authorities, my thesis also aims to show how humanitarian organizations such as Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) challenge EU and French immigration policies, both by mounting rescue missions in the Mediterranean and by providing legal as well as medical assistance to undocumented migrants in France. My focus is on the work of the MSF Center in Pantin, a suburb of Paris, where I volunteered: its mission is to help isolated foreign youths in their pursuit of the unaccompanied minor status to which international and French law entitle them but that French authorities are reluctant to grant. Finally, I examine how these young migrants themselves endeavor to challenge their exclusion from French society and ward off the social death to which the state condemns them. Given that, until they are officially recognized as unaccompanied minors, they are barred from school, their only way of articulating forms of identity and community is to engage in the few cultural activities available to them. For the unaccompanied minors I met, soccer and music are the privileged practices that they seize upon in order to construct their social life.