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Pablo Ceriani Cernadas critically examines, from a human rights perspective, the process
of constructing and utilising certain concepts in the field of international migration. He first
highlights the contradiction between various terms and the reality they are supposed to
explain or define. Secondly, he shows how these concepts play a dual role: how they conceal
other aspects of this reality and also how they legitimise the policies and decisions that
are presented as the necessary reaction to events portrayed in a partial, if not distorted,
manner. Behind these concepts and the policies they seek to legitimise lie multiple, serious
violations of the human rights of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees.
This analysis of discursive practices and migration policies gives special attention to a concept
used widely by the international press and various social and political actors: the “economic
migrant”. In recent years this concept has become especially prominent, given, in particular,
the highly publicised migrations of tens of thousands of children and adolescents from Central
America to the United States of America (U.S.) in mid-2014 and, a year ago, of the displaced
populations of Syria and other countries of the Middle East and Africa towards Europe.
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