How is your city responding to irregular migrants?

January 29th, 2018

New guidance for European municipalities is on the way.

Migrants with irregular status are a reality in cities in Europe and around the globe. Yet, responding effectively to the social challenges they bring is a task that municipalities often struggle to achieve. National or international (as in the case of the European Union) integration strategies only offer a reference framework to respond to regular migrants. When it comes to the welfare of irregular migrants, municipalities do not find guidance in national laws; and policies on irregular migration tend to focus solely on enforcement and removals. Cities though can find it difficult to ignore the precarious living conditions of their population with irregular migration status with no right to work or to access social assistance, and the implications of their presence for municipal responsibilities such as tackling homelessness, community safety and child protection. The experiences of Sanctuary cities in the USA shows how municipalities can have an interest in implementing inclusive initiatives for migrants with irregular status. Less is known about the responses of European municipalities. What about your city?

The City Initiative on Migrants with Irregular Status in Europe (C-MISE) is a knowledge-exchange project of the University of Oxford’s Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS) in cooperation with ten European municipalities exploring how cities in Europe are responding to the challenges presented by irregular migrants in an inclusive way. The COMPAS report European Cities and Migrants with Irregular Status (2017) identified municipal initiatives for the inclusion of irregular migrants in several areas of service provision, including shelters and housing support, legal counselling, healthcare, education, civic documentation, and support for victims of crime. The report shows how – in the lack of clear guidance and often restrictive national policy frameworks –municipalities have to rely on innovative and often informal solutions to provide access to services without breaching national law.

Call to EU Cities for Good Practices 

The C-MISE initiative is currently preparing guidance for municipal authorities in Europe on ways to respond to irregular migrants and the social challenges they bring. To do so, COMPAS is reaching out to cities and towns across Europe to know about the initiatives or projects they adopted specifically relating to migrants with irregular status. The C-MISE initiative indeed believes that cities across Europe would highly benefit from sharing experience on what other municipalities are doing in this area. For this reason, if your city is implementing a specific practice or policy in relation to irregular migrants (or you are aware of other municipalities doing so), COMPAS would like to hear from you.

If you believe that European municipalities would benefit from the experience of your city, please write to Nicola Delvino (nicola.delvino @

If you want to know more the C-MISE initiative, please visit:

You can download the report European Cities and Migrants with Irregular Status at:


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