Refugees Are (Not) Welcome Here
228 pages, 6 x 9
3 charts/diagrams
Release Date:15 Jul 2024
Release Date:01 Dec 2023
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Release Date:01 Dec 2023
Release Date:01 Dec 2023

Refugees Are (Not) Welcome Here

The Paradox of Protection in Canada

SERIES: Law and Society
UBC Press

State-controlled refugee protection in Canada has gone through paradoxical developments in recent decades. While refugee rights have expanded, access to these rights has tightened. Previously unrecognized groups – such as women experiencing gender-based violence and LGBT populations – are now considered legitimate refugees. Yet, the implementation of stringent administrative measures has made it harder for refugees to secure protection.

Refugees Are (Not) Welcome Here explores how refugee claims are processed within a complex and contradictory regime that is stretched between the separate fields of law and bureaucracy. Azar Masoumi draws on archival and media sources, interviews with people in the field, and organizational data to map the arrangements that allow the Canadian system to sustain itself, in spite of and through its internal paradoxes. In doing so, she explains why state-controlled refugee protection persists despite its many failures to protect refugees, not only in Canada but globally.

This rigorous study deftly argues that the paradoxical interplay between refugee law and the claim-processing bureaucracies of the state is symptomatic of a larger illogic: reliance on the exclusivist mechanisms of the nation state to ensure the universal application of rights. Ultimately, Refugees Are (Not) Welcome Here illuminates just how this paradox has turned refugee protection into an unfulfilled promise.

Scholars of law, politics, refugee studies, and immigration studies will find the robust empirical framework of this book persuasive and useful, as will practitioners and policy makers engaged in immigration/refugee process, activists, and members of NGOs.


  • 2024, Shortlisted - W. Wesley Pue Book Prize, Canadian Law and Society Association/Association canadienne droit et société.
The strength of this book is its use of archival and official material of the Canadian regime of refugee protection to show the inherent tensions in the work of state officials, and the difficulty of securing universal rights within a context of unwanted migration control. There is no other book like it. Sule Tomkinson, Department of Political Science, Université Laval
Focusing on the bureaucracy of refugee status determination, Refugees Are (Not) Welcome Here makes a significant and original contribution to critical refugee and migration studies. The volume will be of great benefit to Canadian audiences and beyond. Adèle Garnier, coeditor of Refugee Resettlement: Power, Politics and Humanitarian Governance

Azar Masoumi is an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Carleton University. She has been published in Canadian and international journals including Social and Legal Studies, Studies in Social Justice, Social Identities, Feminist Legal Studies, the Oñati Socio-Legal Series, and Social Justice: A Journal of Crime, Conflict, and World Order.

Introduction: States of Paradox, the Paradox of States

Part 1: The Early Years, 1946–92

1 Forty Years of Beginnings: The Origins of Systematic Refugee Protection in Canada

2 With Rights Came the Rightless: Bureaucracy and Restrictionism

Part 2: The Middle Trenches, 1993–2006

3 A Nice Symbolic Gesture: The Making of the Gender Guidelines

4 The Losing Game of Protection: Administrative Failure and Restrictionist Salvage

Part 3: Recent Times, 2007–17

5 Pivoting on Gay: Sexual Rights and Migration Restriction

6 Protection on Life Support: Bureaucracy, Intersectionality, and SOGIE Protection

Conclusion: For Whose Protection?

Appendixes; Notes; List of References; Index

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