ABSTRACT

Reflections on immigrants’ inclusivity in southern African cities are a retreat into the acceptability of immigrants in host countries. It is built on the premise that the acceptability of immigrants in host cities depends on their status and ability to get economic opportunities. At the centre of inclusivity in cities is the institutional framework of the host country that determines how the state apparatus responds to immigrants. Those who are documented and easily get decent jobs find it easy to lead decent life in host cities. Their access to opportunities, especially income, allows them to access decent services such as housing and education. Hence, their level of inclusivity in host cities is high. On the other hand, undocumented immigrants form part of the large group of vulnerable people in cities. The lack of proper documentation relegates them to refugee, asylum seeker and destitute status since some of them cannot support themselves. The influx of undocumented immigrants complicates the host–immigrant relationship – a situation which makes immigrants feel victimised. Hence inclusivity in cities emerges as a level of existence defined by access to social, political, economic and physical opportunities. Levels of inclusivity are not cast in concrete, but are fluid and immigrants move on these levels in either direction depending on their fortunes.