Irregular migration, as a concept, is complex and chock full of complicated circumstances and contexts. Afraid of the Light: Unmasking the Discourse on Irregular Migration and its Implications for Migration Governance in ASEAN aims to shed a light on the situation of undocumented migrant workers and to contribute to national and regional discourse on irregular migration. Through case studies and analysis of policy, the research hopes to foster awareness on the issue of irregular migration and serve as a baseline study for future advocacy efforts on the issue of protection and promotion of rights of undocumented migrants and those caught in situations of irregularity in the ASEAN. Primarily, it focuses on the governance of migration, or the lack thereof, by contextualising the current status of irregular migrants in major destination countries of the ASEAN region, being Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore.
The foremost method to understand and study the complete environment of irregular migration in a specified region would require qualitative research. Qualitative research allows the researcher to capture realities and patterns beyond data that would be numerated and that are not easily represented. Furthermore, due to the nature of the topic and scope of the paper, quantitative research is inadvisable and would be non-representative.
Qualitative research for this paper involved primary and secondary methods. The primary research component involved qualitative interviews with irregular migrants, members of civil society and embassy officials of origin countries. Research is further supplemented by literature review of secondary sources such as relevant and existing academic papers that address migration issues in the region and ad-hoc published material of civil society organisations that work with irregular migrants on the ground. Methods had to be evolved depending upon, foremost, the respondents convenience, safety and comfort and secondly, the resources available to our partners at the grass-root level.
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