In the migration history literature, the number of marriages between newcomers and the native population is considered to be the ultimate litmus test of the integration or assimilation of migrants. However, little attention has been paid to how the state has actively intervened to prevent such marriages. The premarital counselling for mixed marriages provided by Dutch state officials, in cooperation with churches and NGOs, represents one such intervention. It mainly targeted Dutch women marrying Muslim men, and until the 1990s it was informed by stereotypes about gender, class and race that intersected with religion. Counselling Dutch girls about Islamic family law served as a way to demonstrate how intrinsically different ‘the other’ was. Ultimately, premarital counselling was about the power of regulations of mixture in shaping identities and producing ‘race’, linking it to sex, gender and family formations.
Betty de Hart
This article looks at the extent and way in which the European Court of Human Rights takes the interests of insider spouses (citizens or permanent residents) into account in Article 8 ECHR cases (right to family life). It uses Caren's three moral principles for family reunification policies as an analysing tool for the evaluation of the Court's first admission and expulsion cases, and looks at the underlying notions of gender and ethnicity. The author concludes that insiders' interests play only a marginal role in the case law and offers several explanations. Although the Court has acknowledged that family reunification is about insiders, it has not taken the consequences of such a position into account. It does not look at the ties of the insider spouse to his or her country of citizenship or residence. It sees the relationships of insider women with migrant partners as a more serious threat to restrictive immigration policies than relationships of insider men with migrant women. Furthermore, the Court thinks of nation-states as closed units to which migrants may be admitted as an exception to the rule, and does not acknowledge that insiders develop family relations with outsiders either within or outside the nation-state.
Betty de Hart
The tension between the right to family reunification as laid down in European Directives and Member States’ concern to protect their sovereignty in regulating migration has resulted in growing attention to and concern about fraudulent family relationships (especially marriages of convenience). This contribution addresses the question of what forms of control are permissible from a European law perspective and whether national practices are in conformity with European law and fundamental rights. Looking at these national practices several problems are identified: definitions of ‘marriages of convenience’ extending beyond what European law allows; systematic checks of certain nationalities/ethnic groups, mixed couples and/or gender may amount to discrimination and the burden of proof seems to be shifting to couples. Comparing control practices for marriages of convenience with those of homosexual asylum seekers, it is argued that human dignity is at stake.