Caseworkers of the Repatriation and Departure Service (DT&V), responsible for enforcing return orders in the Netherlands, systematically orchestrate “return conversations” with rejected asylum seekers and apprehended irregular migrants in hopes of realising the return of their “clients” without physical force. Based on semi-structured interviews, we analyse which strategies the caseworkers use under which conditions and what they think about their strategies' (in)effectiveness. The analysis is informed by Scott's institutional theory and Lipsky's concept of street-level bureaucracy. Our results show that caseworkers prefer regulative strategies but are under organisational pressure to also use normative and cultural-cognitive strategies, especially when migrants cannot be deported. According to the caseworkers, these cases are often the most labour-intensive and the normative and cultural-cognitive arguments used are considered rarely successful. Also, these arguments seem to conflict with their social norms and cultural-cognitive beliefs. We develop three hypotheses which can be used in future research.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This study was made possible by a EUR fellowship (Leerkes) from Erasmus University Rotterdam. We thank the DT&V for their collaboration on this study, and are grateful to two anonymous reviewers for their valuable and extensive feedback on earlier drafts of this paper.
© 2022 The Authors. International Migration published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of International Organization for Migration.