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Categories form the backbone of policies. This chapter examined how categories are constructed in immigration and integration policies, alongside who policies target and in what ways categorizing may lead to stereotypes and exclusion. Processes of categorization both reflect reality and construct identities as they are understood by the ethnic majority. Categories furthermore determine the policy route migrants are subjected to upon their arrival. At the EU level the basic binary categorization is EU citizen versus TCN, and this defines who requires integration (TCNs) and who does not (EU citizens). Although European citizens are not formally subject to integration policy, Western European immigration countries do make implicit distinctions between migrants from “new” and “old” member states. In other, words, not all intra-European migrants are as equal in daily life as they are on paper. Migrants from the Eastern European member states are categorized differently. TCNs—i.e., migrants from outside the EU—form the general target group of EU integration policies as well as return and deportation measures. TCNs who are legal, or at least admitted, become the target of integration policies. Others become the object of increasingly exclusionary social policies and deportation.

Hierarchies within the categories European citizens and TCNs produce implicit and sometimes explicit unequal treatment at the national and local levels. Some groups, such as Muslims, are more problematized than others, and hierarchies are often based on a combination of identity markers such as gender, class, and ethnicity. Hierarchies are bound to national contextual factors, such as the mode of categorization used (top-down or based on self-identification), the type of welfare state, the scope of certain types of immigration, and the extent to which immigrants are “needed” to fill gaps in the labour market. Categories create stereotypes that persist over generations, resulting in patterns of social stratification. Categories cannot be abandoned in policymaking, but to make policies more effective scholars and policymakers alike should be alert to their use, scope, and impact.

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