chapter  8
14 Pages

Mouth swabs and other techniques of verification

Determining refugees’ rights to a family life
WithKaren Fog Olwig, Kristina Grünenberg, Perle Møhl, Anja Simonsen

This chapter focuses on the present-day situation regarding family reunification, wherever-more elaborate and complicated application procedures have been introduced. It discusses how the many different officials who act on behalf of the ‘state’ become involved in testing and determining individuals’ right to a family life and on what basis. It argues that as the immigration and refugee system has become more and more extensive and elaborate, no individual can be identified as actually taking responsibility for decisions in family reunification cases. Rather, the assessment of family reunification is the result of a number of separate decisions made in disparate parts of the border world by a large bureaucracy. Furthermore, by using a seemingly neutral ‘scientific’ approach in which ‘objective’ things, like the swab used to collect saliva for DNA, are given central authority, the key role played by human interpretation and decision-making is hidden.