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One West African migrant I interviewed in Istanbul (I will call him Ibrahim) came to Turkey because he understood Istanbul to be a large, cosmopolitan city with ample work opportunities, and because Turkish visas are relatively easy to obtain for nationals of his country.
Now though, one year later, work opportunities have proved to be sparse, and Ibrahim is considering moving on to Europe.
Migration continued throughout the twentieth century, though since the 1990s and the end of the Cold War, Turkey has witnessed new forms of migration involving refugees from neighboring states, EU nationals, and irregular and transit migrants.
Turkey has indeed sent large portions of its population to Europe, particularly during the 1960s and 1970s through guestworker programs and family reunification processes.
However, Turkey also has a long history as a receiver of migrants, though this fact has been overshadowed in recent years by its emigration narrative.
Some individuals will also “jump” categories in order to obtain work or as they acquire new information concerning legal categories, and both refugees and other migrants may use similar networks and smugglers to facilitate transit.
Turkey illustrates this overlap well, and Ibrahim’s situation is not unique.
While up until now refugees found residing outside their assigned location have generally been detained and then returned to their respective satellite city, refugees will face stricter conditions under the new 2013 Law on Foreigners.