Public service work and discretion in migration policies

A publication is out!

Some weeks ago, the RIEM (Revista Internacional de Estudios Migratorios) published my article “The role of established immigrants within institutionalised immigrant integration in Israel. I wrote this article after having submitted my dissertation, with the idea to focus on one aspect of it: street level bureaucrats.

As a matter of fact, a large part of the interviews I conducted was with persons working in municipalities and other governement agencies, and were in direct contact with the residents. They were part of the welfare department, the employment department and more frequently, the department dealing with immigration and so-called integration-related matters.

The many differences I could spot between each city’s policies were in part to be attributed to these street level bureaucrats. I tried to make sense of it through this article.

This has also impacted our arrival in Portugal. Throughout the administrative maze that one immigrant follows, one can only recognise the high level of discretion public service workers have: at the tax office, at social security, at the clinic, and at the home office (SEF here in Portugal). Every person tells a different story, and by coming twice for the same thing, you might get two different responses.

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Winter is coming

The title of this post is obviously a marketing ploy.

But more seriously, after a week in Trás-os-Montes, I believe again in the power of seasons over our overall rhythm.

While the Christmas decorations were mere reminders that a week before, families were celebrating the end of the year’s festivities together, I arrived in Trás-os-Montes through a thick fog, and surrounded with the smell of burnt wood.

I had a plan to shoot some images at the houses of the people I met during the summer. Unfortunately, everyone was gone, had a cold, and in general, was not as eager as during summer days to show outside of their home.

First, I was frustrated. But I thought this was part of winter life in the region: empty villages once the sun sets, cold and foggy weather… So I took the decision to film just this. The absence.

To be fair, there were some people: the ones working – in agriculture in the villages, and in shops and services in Bragança. In the city, it seems that winter was also an opportunity to renovate the roads and sites. I decided to expand my horizons, and I visited Vimioso, Mirando do Douro, Vila Real and Chaves. Every where were works, renovations, and… empty streets, closed shops… The north was getting ready for its visitors!