Several discussions have been done to explain the issues of border and citizenship as well as immigration. It is vital to define the terms to understand their cultural dimension in the contemporary world. Citizenship is the legal right of belonging to a particular country (Cebeci 2012, 14). There are different ways of becoming citizens of states. Notably, each country has its individual constitution that outlines the procedures that should be followed when applying for citizenship in their countries. On the other hand, the issue Syrian refugees have become a prevalent in the media because of the wars that fought there (Gomberg-Muñoz 2011, 102-110). As a result, many of the Syrian citizens end up running from the wars and go in other countries in the Middle East and beyond, for example, Turkey, Lebanon, among others. Evidently, the refugees have encountered many challenges as they run away from the crises. Turkey has the highest number of Syrian refugees and some of them play an essential role in the growth of their economy. In fact, there is the idea of legalizing their citizenship, especially those who have lived in the state for more than five years. Notably, there are cultural dimensions that are related and affect immigrants as well as their legalizations. Therefore, it is critical to evaluate the cultural aspects of the legality of refugees and how it relates to citizenship and border.
Legality of refugees is an aspect that needs to be critically evaluated. It is critical to note that experts have discovered that many of refugees in Turkey will stay permanently (Gomberg-Muñoz 2011, 102-110). In this context, many governments have urged the Turkish government to loosen its laws and integrate the refugees as their citizenship. It is essential to note that there are new rules that came into effect in January regarding entering and leaving Turkey, some of which challenge the lives of the refugees. It is critical to state that there are gender biases in the application of immigration policy, although, on its faces it looks neutral. In fact, many women are facing difficulties in gaining legalization within the existing immigration system (Gomberg-Muñoz 2011, 102-110). The system is characterized by inequalities, stereotypes, and assumptions that remain unchallenged (Gomberg-Muñoz 2011, 102-110). It is worrying to note that even women laws that are against gender bias continue to play out in practice. In this context, it is necessary to debate policies that to citizenship and integration to be accessible and affordable to all citizens, irrespective of their gender. Some of them are not paid for their work while others are in the informal sector and experience many challenges. For such laws to be enacted, it is crucial to develop stronger and open pathways for women to access legalization process. Moreover, Turkey has made it explicit that any person who is found in the state without the required document should be investigated by the law enforcement officers to establish his or her immigration status. In fact, the individual is supposed to be arrested and detained, especially when there is reasonable doubt that he or she has illegally entered the state. What is evident from the law is that it encourages racial profiling. Gender-biased nationality laws may end up making children who are born to refugees stateless (Gomberg-Muñoz 2011, 102-110).
Besides, the law was criticized not only in the media, but also by many political leaders across the globe. The law was prone to discrimination, unjust detentions, and deportation quotas. In fact, there are many immigration patrols far from the border, which has resulted in several protests. In fact, residents have called for the closure of checkpoints because of the increased racial profiling and invasion of civil rights. Notably, it is only women who can pass citizenship to their children and not women. In this view, based on the fact that most of the refugees are women whose husbands have died, children may not be legalized to acquiring citizenship (Alpak et al. 2015, 45). Notably, there are various illegal activities that take place at the border. For example, refugees buy fake passports, making prevalent forgery activity at the checkpoint. There are cartels that engage in the sale of the fake passports and sometimes the refugees prefer them, especially those who do not relate well with the security personnel.
Inequality is a fundamental aspect that influences the settlement of refugees in Turkey. In fact, there are regional inequalities regarding access to public services, employment, as well as infrastructure as is the case with other inequalities. Most of the Syrian refugees have been settled in remote areas that are characterized by a shortage of resources and jobs due to competition with the natives. It is surprising to note that even when refugees enter Syria, they are also classified according to their ethnicity, class, region, as well as their nationalities (Gomberg-Muñoz 2011, 110-120). For example, the creation of a category of refugees who are deserted in Turkey resulted from the process of the categorization and their unique history. Due to the high rate of poverty and the effects that the refugees’ experience, they have formed their identity themselves. It is important to state that the difference between immigrants and the citizens of the Turkey is that the natives do not live in poor conditions as the Syrian refugees.
Different ethnic, financial, and educational backgrounds are other cultural dimensions that have played a significant role in the acquisition of citizenship among the Syrian refugees in Turkey. Notably, these people have challenges in moving up the economic ladder, despite the fact that they are the ones who engage in hard tasks. Equally, they can only move up to the middle class. Those that reach that ladder are the people who are employed in white collar jobs. Regarding individual background, they dictate how they relate to each other in Turkey. Most of the immigrants are brought up in disadvantaged backgrounds and struggle to enter the middle class. It is important to say that people from humble communities will put all their efforts to be out of their situation and better their lives. Equally, the segment of the population is socially mobile and has strong ties to poorer kins, especially to their older members of their families who have retired. Sometimes, the legal status allows the members to move up the economic ladder and offer the lifestyle that is equivalent to that of the middle class. In fact, upon arriving in Turkey, immigrants from the middle class were more likely to have the legal status of being documented than others from the lower level. After entering the state, they have legal rights to move out of the margins of the society and get white collar jobs (Giordano 2008, 588).
Surprisingly, it is the class that defined their neighborhoods. The wealth gap is a dimension that is closely related to the social class. Immigrants are more likely to be unauthorized and get low wages employed than others. In fact, it takes time for them to build assets and become at the same ladder with the wealthy citizens. The age also played a significant role in determining whether one will move into the middle class. The reason behind the argument is that some of them help their parents to go into another economic ladder while others remain in the low economic status. Consequently, their parents may continue in their poor states while they move to the middle class. However, kids from legal immigrants can enter the middle class, but they should try to overcome the significant social and structural hindrances to reaching there. Some of the barriers originate from the marginalized statuses of their parents’ economic positions (Giordano 2008, 589). As aforementioned in the report, the environments in which the refugees settle influence how first their status will be legalized. Notably, some of the immigrants are flexible because of their neighborhood. For example, children who grow in middle class settle in developed communities. Therefore, some refugees enjoy the easy life, they open up businesses, and integrate into the social fabric with others easily. However, others live in poor environments, such as bus terminals, city parks, as well as suburban government housing projects.
Another critical aspect that should be evaluated when examining refugees in Turkey is the plight of children (Schiller and Georges 2009, 256). In fact, the kids experience extreme trauma due to the environment in which they are brought. For example, the children do not receive a high-quality education, be given inadequate healthcare services, and live in basements. It is worrying to note that more than half of the refugee children do not attend school, yet others from Turkey receive an education. The reason is that their parents cannot work, forcing children to work in exploitive condition. In fact, they are treated like illegal immigrants. Due to gender-biases, girls enter marriage while still young. It is evident that more than ten percent of Syrian refugee kids live to engage in child labor (Schiller and Georges 2009, 256). In fact, a lack of legal status makes them live in fear because they are afraid that they can be chased out of the country anytime.
It is interesting to note that the Turkish government has begun to legalize citizenship of the Syrian refugees. The first group that comprised of two hundred and fifty-two will complete the five-year residency that is required by the in April. It is projected that after this time the number of the refugees will continue to rise. However, the process that is needed by the law is involving, and after they apply, the council of ministers is required to recommend it. Once these people become citizens, they would be needed to participate in the democratic rights (Sahlool et al. 2012, 25). Additionally, they are allowed to marry and have children as evident in some of the cities where their number is higher compared with. However, it is important to say that the ultimate goal of citizenship is open to refugees who have attained residency as well as work permits. Besides, they are supposed to possess biometric identification documents and have children. The treatment they are receiving is better than the one in 2015 where they were treated as guests.
In conclusion, the Turkey laws regarding legalizing Syrian refugees and citizenship, as well as border, should be examined. The cultural dimensions that influence them have been explained. For example, it is not right for one’s background and his or her economic status to determine where he or she will settle. In fact, it is important that laws enacted address the discrimination that is prevalent in the society. Gender is a sensitive issue that should be dealt with by the law to make sure that children acquire citizenship. Although they are not discriminate theoretically, practically they are biased. Women cannot engage in the process of legalizing their statuses by themselves because they do not have legal rights.
- Cebeci, Erol, and Kadir Üstün. 2012. “The Syrian Quagmire: What’s Holding Turkey Back?.” Insight Turkey 14:13-20.
- Gomberg-Muñoz, Ruth. 2011. Labor and Legality: An Ethnography of a Mexican immigrant network. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Alpak, Gokay, Ahmet Unal, Feridun Bulbul, Eser Sagaltici, Yasin Bez, Abdurrahman Altindag, Alican Dalkilic, and Haluk A. Savas. 2015. “Post-traumatic stress disorder among Syrian refugees in Turkey: A cross-sectional study.” International journal of psychiatry in clinical practice 19: 45-50.
- Giordano, Cristiana. 2008. “Practices of translation and the making of migrant subjectivities in contemporary Italy.” American Ethnologist 35: 588-606.
- Schiller, Nina G., and Georges Eugene F. 2009. ““The Blood Remains Haitian”: Race, Nation, and Belonging in the Transmigrant Experience.” Perspectives on the Caribbean 34: 256-282.
- Sahlool, Zaher, Abdul Ghani S., and Mazen Kherallah. 2012. “Evaluation report of health care services at the Syrian refugee camps in Turkey.” Avicenna journal of medicine 2: 25-70.