Journal of Immigration and Refugee Studies, 2013, vol. 11, n. 4.
(Co-edited with Anna Triandafyllidou)
Many national and EU policy makers have heralded the idea of ‘circular’ migration with great enthusiasm as the solution to many of ‘our’ migration ‘problems’, supposedly addressing at once labour market shortages – by providing quickly and flexibly labour force on demand – and the migrant integration challenges – since circular migrants are not there ‘to stay’ and hence will create very limited if any integration challenges. This special issue/book is concerned with the realities of circularity, notably of migrant domestic and care workers who rotate between their country of origin and the country of settlement. We use the term migrant domestic and care worker to refer to the wider category of migrants employed in the private cleaning and home based care sectors. The special issue/book focuses on circular migrant domestic and care workers. ‘Circular’ migrants in these sectors work for a few months at destination and then find a replacement (a relative, a friend or simply a co-national) and go back home to take care of their own families (children, elderly parents). They stay for a couple of months at the country of origin and then return at destination to work. The circulation of migrant domestic and care workers goes against their settling down and thus avoids the related integration challenges that European societies would face if migrant domestic carers would bring their families over. However, at the same time, circular domestic work poses important integration challenges for the people involved as they somehow belong nowhere, they hang in-between the two countries. Circular domestic work provides no long term answer to the crisis of the European welfare systems and the ageing of native European populations. In addition it raises important welfare issues for the circulating migrant workers.