• Marie Bjerrum Trillingsgaard
4. term, Social Work, Master (Master Programme)

This thesis examines a central part of the Danish asylum procedure for unaccompanied minor asylumseekers: the asylum hearing that takes place at the Immigration Service. The primary focus of the thesis is which challenges and possibilities for the minors to present themselves and their asylum motives are present during the asylum hearings, and secondly how can these hearings be adjusted or changed in accordance with the interest of the minors. I have focused on 15-17 year old Afghan boys, who are by far the largest group among the unaccompanied minors in Denmark.
Inspired by the work of mainly Hannah Arendt, Pierre Bourdieu and Michel Foucault along with the methodological position of interactionism I have tried to critically examine the social and linguistic structures, which along with the interaction between the minor, the interpreter and the case officer condition the social scene of the hearings. In this perspective my primary concern has been what enables, confuses or prevents the minors from presenting their stories – and on the other hand what enables, confuses and constrains the case officers understanding and assessment of such claims for asylum. Thus the thesis is not an evaluation of the case officers’ work, but rather an examination of the social situation, the human conditions and the linguistic constraints that set the scene for the hearings.
The thesis is empirically rather broad-founded as qualitative interviews with unaccompanied minors, case officers from the Unaccompanied Minor Team at the Immigration Service, as well as interviews with the minors legal representatives have been carried out. Furthermore, the results of my analytic work along with practical suggestions for adjustments of the hearings have been presented to the case officers at a workshop at the Immigration Service.
The thesis concludes that in spite of the case officers’ professional and dedicated attempts to adjust the hearings to the needs of the minors, the minors can have a hard time trying to understand the logic and purpose of the asylum procedure in general and especially the questions during the hearings. The number and the character of the questions risk giving the minor the impression that he is not answering “correctly” or that his answers are not credible. Furthermore, due to prior experiences during the flight the minors can be very nervous when talking to authority personnel and be under extreme pressure given the important outcome of the hearings. Thus the thesis gives an understanding of the hearings as a situation where the minors are under extreme pressure after a long period of frustrating waiting time, and argues that when the asylum- and credibility-assessments are made, case workers should remember the difficulties of presenting a story concerning difficult topics under social pressure, and linguistic confusion.
Publication date21 Nov 2012
Number of pages104
Publishing institutionAalborg Universitet, Kandidatuddannelsen i Socialt Arbejde
ID: 70989974