Difference exists within the economic structures of welfare and nowhere is this more evident than in the ‘outsider’ status implicit in asylum policy in Ireland. Since the establishment of the system of Direct Provision (DP) in 2000, asylum seekers have been the subject of punitive and restrictive mechanisms of social control that have excluded, segregated, stigmatised, and set asylum seekers apart from the rest of society. This has been engineered through state sanctioned policies of group-based exclusion and a clustering of disadvantage, which has served to stigmatise and dehumanise asylum seekers. This exclusion has been justified on the grounds of security, the welfare of non-status migrant populations, and as a means of accelerating the speed at which asylum applications are processed (Conlon and Gill, 2013). It has been propagated through a language of deserving and undeserving, technologies of governance and policing, and a problematisation of asylum seekers which has given rise to a range of deterrence mechanisms in the policy arena. Within this context, risk factors are part of a broader picture relating to the actions of particular state institutions where asylum seekers experience dual burdens; that of visibility (as groups reliant on state welfare and support and as such, often the subjects of negative media attention and political hostility) and invisibility (as individuals whose psychological, social, political, and humanitarian needs are often neglected).
This paper draws attention to the standarised practices of state control and the restrictions mechanisms of state exclusion place on those seeking protection. It calls into question the actions of state institutions, and particularly those directly involved in the reception and administration of asylum policy. It also highlights forces that have led to the initiation and perpetuation of stigmatising processes through control and supervision, highlighting a distinct relationship between institutionalisation, stigma and poor health outcomes.