RESOURCES ON U.S REFUGEE AND ASYLEE POLICY AND INTEGRATION
Arranged in order of publication date with the most recent on top. Scroll down for all entries. We regret that
we may not be able to repair broken links promptly.The conclusions and recommendations of the authors are not necessarily endorsed by Diversity Dynamics.
|The United States has a long tradition of offering refuge to those fleeing persecution
or war. Since World War II, the country has admitted over 4 million refugees for resettlement. U.S. policy towards refugees
and asylees, reflected in international protocols and treaties, legislative initiatives, and policy determinations, has evolved
over time. This collection of studies deals with U.S. refugee and asylee policy, efforts to integrate refugees into the mainstream
of American society, and refugee contributions to American life.|
Uprooted in Central America and Mexico: Migrant and refugee children face a vicious cycle
of hardship and danger,
UNICEF Child Alert, August 2018, 25 pp.
This report outlines the harsh process and painful
consequences of migration on children and families fleeing extreme violence and poverty in Central America and Mexico. These
conditions, combined with lack of economic and educational opportunity, spur irregular migration, but stricter border control
merely increases hardship for migrants. Forcible return to countries of origin often prompts additional attempts at migration.
Detention and family separation are deeply traumatizing experiences that can affect a child’s long-term development
and act as a trigger for present and future mental illness. Many alternatives to detention exist, including community-based
care, group homes and foster care, all of which have had positive results for families and unaccompanied minors. UNICEF urges
United Nations member states to adopt a 6-point “agenda for action” to safeguard the health and well-being of
migrant and refugee children. This agenda includes action points addressing all aspects of the migration experience, including
the root causes of migration, detention, family separation, protecting children from all forms of violence, and, finally,
steps to promote reintegration and address discrimination and xenophobia for children and migrants who have been returned
to their countries of origin. (Sam Jones for The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education Institute)
The U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program – a Return to First Principles: How Refugees
Help to Define, Strengthen, and Revitalize the United States,
Center for Migration Studies, June 2018, 34 pp.
Author: Donald Kerwin
United States has historically welcomed refugees fleeing violence and persecution in their home countries. Refugees have increased
the cultural diversity, economic competitiveness and security of their adopted homeland. Since 1980 alone, the U.S. Refugee
Admissions Program (USRAP) has resettled more than three million refugees in the U.S. However, the Trump administration has
drastically reduced the number of refugees allowed into the U.S. (45,000 in Fiscal 2018) and slashed USRAP’s budget
as part of its broader effort to limit legal immigration. Arguing that the refugee resettlement program serves U.S. interests
and values, the report details the contributions refugees make to U.S. society. The authors use data from the American Community
Survey to analyze the demographics, achievements and integration of over one million refugees. Findings indicate that refugees
participate in the labor force, start businesses and earn college degrees at high rates. For example, 68 percent of refugees
participate in the labor force, compared to 63 percent of the total U.S. population. In addition, a higher percentage of refugees
are self-employed, indicating that they create more jobs than non-refugees. Given the value of refugees to American society,
as well as the need for U.S leadership to address the global crisis of displaced persons, the author suggests that individuals
and organizations should facilitate refugee resettlement as well as advocate for generous refugee admissions to members of
Congress. (Deb D’Anastasio for The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education Institute)
Philanthropic Strategies to Support Refugees and Asylum Seekers,
Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees, 2018, 28 pp.
Author: Suzette Brooks
Since 2017, refugees and asylum seekers, and the infrastructure in the U.S. that supports them, have
faced dual challenges: first, the unprecedented movement of displaced peoples—begun prior to the Trump administration;
and second, the Trump administration’s hostility to those coming to the U.S. for protection. Foundations that have supported
organizations serving immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers have been challenged to adapt to this new environment. This
report provides a picture of how 10 different funders have stepped up their support for refugees and asylum seekers in response
to these challenges. Funders profiled are mostly U.S.-based, both large national foundations and smaller community foundations,
with grantees that are mostly U.S.-based. The report draws lessons from the foundation profiles and makes a set of recommendations
and next steps. One common thread is support for refugee resettlement agencies, to help them broaden their funding streams
and diversify their services in the face of sharp federal reductions in funding for refugee resettlement. Another lesson learned
is that funders must broaden their portfolios and break down the long-standing silos separating funders focused on immigration
issues from those focusing on refugee and asylum-seeker issues. Collaboration among funders, and using the convening power
of the foundations, are other themes that appear throughout. The report recommends that foundations join in collectives that
foster sharing of information and best practices (as in the recently-formed Funders for Refugees and Asylum Seekers); that
funders look beyond providing for immediate needs and support the long-term sustainability of their grantees; and that funders
work more collaboratively, to meet the daunting challenges now facing migrants seeking humanitarian protection in the U.S.
and around the world. (Maurice Belanger, Maurice Belanger Consulting)
A Needed Evidence Revolution: Using cost-benefit analysis to improve refugee integration programming,
Migration Policy Institute (Europe), July 2018, 47 pp.
Authors: Meghan Benton & Paul Diegert
Arguing that it is time for immigrant integration policy to catch up with fields such as health, criminal justice, and
education, that have experienced a recent “evidence revolution,” the authors of this study urge the use of frameworks
like cost-benefit analysis to evaluate the effectiveness of various policy interventions designed to facilitate the labor
market integration of refugees. Written for a European audience, and with European conditions in mind, e.g. high refugee unemployment
with undesirable ripple effects on the second generation, the report begins by taking stock of current approaches to measuring
the success of labor-market integration programs. Many studies only measure initial outcomes, and because they don’t
look into longer-term effects, often have results that are “underwhelming.” Other studies, even if they use cost-benefit
analysis, are often used as “political tools” to allay public fears about migration, rather than to decide how
to target program investments. The authors then proceed to give examples of studies that could take account of both the short-term
economic impacts of integration programs, as well as the longer-term impacts, such as the educational progress of refugee
children, the prevention of criminality, and lifetime earnings of the second generation. They also argue the importance
of segmenting the study population, e.g. refugees, asylees, or family migrants; taking into account spatial variables; and
evaluating against defined public policy goals. The report ends with a call for researchers and policy makers to work together
to achieve “an analytical revolution that paves the way for grounded, evidence-based policy-making.”
Economic and Fiscal Impact of Refugees in Colorado,
Colorado Department of Human Services, May 20, 2018, 36 pp.
Author: Dominic Modicamore
Using a unique methodology that attempts to capture the total amount spent on defined group of refugees, i.e. those receiving
state services in the years 2007 and 2014, this study attempts to quantify the return on investment to the people of Colorado
from state expenditures to support refugees. The 2007 cohort consisted of 2,670 refugees, while the 2014 cohort had about
3,600. All state spending on these refugees, whether in the year of record, or in prior or later years, was factored into
the calculations. The analysis found that for each dollar spent assisting the 2007 cohort, $25.49 was generated in the form
of assistance spending and wages earned. The comparable figure for the 2014 cohort was $20.94. The author concludes that “refugees
contribute to Colorado’s economic vibrancy and support jobs and income for refugees and non-refugees alike.” The
report includes a literature review covering five major studies that have appeared in recent years seeking to estimate the
economic costs and impact of refugee resettlement in the U.S.
Refugees as Employees: Good Retention, Strong Recruitment,
Fiscal Policy Institute & the Tent Partnership for Refugees, May, 2018, 47 pp.
Dyssegaard Kallick & Cyierra Roldan
Seeking to fill a gap in research on refugee resettlement in the U.S.,
the authors of this study focus on the experience of employers who have hired refugees. The authors conducted in-depth,
confidential interviews with employers in four different resettlement sites: Atlanta, Phoenix, upstate New York, and
Central Nebraska. They also interviewed staff at resettlement agencies, held discussions with experts in the field, and convened
a number of focus groups. While refugees and other employees have similar goals and needs, there were two clear differences
that emerged from the study: first, refugees have higher retention rates, i.e. tending to stay longer with firms than
other workers; and second, employers who can work through the inevitable adjustment problems faced by refugees are often eager
to hire more refugees and refugees, in turn, are inclined to work for such employers. Many employers report that “they
had learned and grown from the experience of integrating refugees in ways that made them not just better employers of refugees,
but better employers in general.” The report includes separate sections on the main sectors employing refugees, including
manufacturing, meatpacking, hotels, hospital and residential care facilities.
Bringing Evidence to the Refugee Integration Debate,
Urban Institute, April 2018, 32 pp.
Author: Hamutal Bernstein with Nicole DuBois
This report provides a summary of "the prodigious research evidence about refugees in the US." The authors
seek to ground policymaking in the existing research base (focusing on five major studies produced in recent years), as well
as to identify gaps in research that should be addressed in the future. Overall, the existing studies show that labor force
participation rates for refugees rise over time, often exceeding native-born rates, refugee income levels rise, and their
use of public benefits declines. A 2017 study found that refugees arriving between the ages of 18 to 45 ultimately contribute
$21,000 more in taxes than they cost over a 20-year period. The report addresses the strengths and weaknesses of various techniques
for extracting data about refugees from sources such as the American Community Survey, and identifies key questions for which
we have little data, such as long-term career paths, intergenerational changes, health and mental health status, and refugee
impact on local communities. The authors conclude that "refugees contribute to the strength and vitality of communities
across the US," but that "we need to push the evidence base to develop a stronger understanding of both sides of
the integration equation - refugees and receiving communities." The research for this report was funded by Unbound
A Way Forward for Refugees: Findings from the WES Pilot Project
World Education Services, 2018, 24 pp.
Project Lead: Denise Jillions
In 2017, 66 million people became
refugees and asylum seekers after being displaced from their homes. World Education Services (WES), an international credential
evaluation company, launched a program in 2016 called the Refugee Pilot Project, in order to test an alternative approach
to verifying the academic credentials of Syrian refugees in Canada. WES started this program because refugees often have missing
or incomplete documentation and their circumstances prevent them from obtaining verified documents to comply with WES's standard
procedure. As detailed in this study, the assessment reports WES provided to refugees included the nature of a credential,
its equivalency in Canada and information on the Syrian education system, which can be used to contextualize the results.
Survey responses from refugees and stakeholders in addition to interviews with refugees, academic institutions, regulatory
bodies, employers and other partners suggest that the Refugee Pilot Project was successful and well received by both the refugees
and community partners. Participants found the assessment reports to be empowering and useful for refugees trying to obtain
work related to their academic qualifications or to continue their education in Canada. Nearly half of surveyed organizations
reported that they would use or consider using the WES assessments for credential recognition. The authors hope to further
develop and expand their policies for non-verifiable documentation to serve additional populations of people who are unable
to obtain official documents. (Denise Jillions for Tulane University, PHIL 3930)
What Works: Innovative Approaches to Improving Refugee Integration
Center for American Progress, February 28, 2018, 50 pp.
Author: Silva Mathema
Trump administration has proposed funding cuts to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP), which will destabilize the
current infrastructure for resettling and integrating refugees. This infrastructure, based on a partnership between the federal
government and nonprofit organizations, has enabled the United States to successfully integrate millions of refugees into
American life. What Works: Innovative Approaches to Improving Refugee Integration from the Center for American Progress
attempts to document the specific strategies and programs that have produced these impressive results, as well as to suggest
approaches that can be used to weather the hostile atmosphere created by the current administration. The author used a "snowball"
sampling technique to identify 24 model programs providing services in four areas: employment and entrepreneurship, education,
social integration, and specialized services such as health care. In each of these areas, the author tries to explain
"why these programs work." For example, strong and lasting relationships with employers seem to be crucial
in the employment area. In the educational area, some programs have experimented with home-based instruction for hard-to-reach
refugee women and families with young children. The author makes a number of recommendations to help the resettlement sector
survive this challenging period, including advising cities to create umbrella organizations dedicated to refugee integration,
encouraging organizations to seek diverse sources of funding, creating opportunities for sharing among resettlement organizations,
expanding services to the wider community, and continuing to recruit and invest in volunteers. (The Immigrant Learning
Center's Public Education Institute)
U.S. Resettles Fewer Refugees, Even as Global Number of Displaced People Grows,
Pew Research Center, October 12, 2017, 38 pp.
Author: Phillip Connor
report presents a detailed demographic analysis of the incoming U.S. refugee population from FY 2002 to FY 2017 and includes
the following data points: nationality, religious affiliation, gender, age, and state of resettlement. The author points
out a number of trends observable in the data, including an increase in the share of refugees from the Middle East and Africa
(from 17 percent in 2002 to 68 percent in 2017), the growth in the share of refugees who are Muslim, reaching 43 percent in
FY 2017; and the large number of refugees ages 20 or younger (between 40 percent and 50 percent throughout this period). The
author also tracks U.S. resettlement activity in the context of the worldwide refugee problem and notes that U.S. resettlement
usually moves in tandem with the rise and fall of refugee numbers around the world. However, at a time when world refugee
numbers have peaked at 17.2 million, the U.S. commitment to refugees has faltered in recent years, dropping to 0.2 percent
of the world's refugee population, far less than the U.S. historic average of 0.6 percent.
U.S. Leadership Forsaken: Six Months of the Trump Refugee Ban,
Human Rights First, July 2017, 26 pp.
Authors: Eleanor Acer & Natasha Ampriester
to advance America’s foreign policy and national security interests, as well as to protect some of the world’s
most vulnerable populations, the United States must be a global leader in the world’s refugee crises. According to this
report by Human Rights First, the United States is retreating from its responsibilities in this area. The report examines
the effects of the “travel ban” executive order of U.S. President Donald Trump and finds that it has worked to
make America less safe by destabilizing refugee resettlement programs worldwide. Utilizing Worldwide Refugee Admissions Processing
Systems data, the report finds that the travel ban has more than halved U.S. refugee admissions in the six months following
the January 2017 order, including an 80 percent reduction in resettlement of Syrians; a three-fourths drop in resettlement
of Muslim refugees; an effective halt of new refugee processing worldwide, and the layoff of hundreds of refugee processing
staff. As a result, the report finds that the U.S. “abdication of leadership” in this area has burdened U.S. allies
and front-line refugee hosting countries, threatened intelligence sharing in the War on Terror, and fueled smuggling and trafficking,
which ultimately threaten the safety of American citizens. The report argues that the U.S. should reaffirm its commitment
to refugee resettlement and resume processing of refugees, in order to reassert its global leadership and protect its security
interests. (Joanathan Eizyk for The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education Institute)
How are Refugees Faring: Integration at U.S. and State Levels
Transatlantic Council on Migration, June, 2017, 33 pp.
Authors: Michael Fix, Kate Hoper, and Jie
This study looks at the educational and economic outcomes of five refugee
communities (Vietnamese, Cuban, Russian, Iraqi and Burmese) in four states (California, Florida, New York and Texas).
The key question is whether the location of refugee resettlement has a significant impact on refugee integration. This
has been described as “the lottery effect” – the idea that refugees’ lives are impacted by being placed
in locales with very different labor markets, costs of living and social safety nets. The authors begin by reviewing refugee
outcomes more generally, pointing out that they tend to enter employment quickly. However, these outcomes vary by community,
with some populations (e.g., Russian) faring better than others (e.g., Bhutanese). The study finds the same is true at the
state level, with Vietnamese and Russian refugees having higher employment rates and higher median income and the Iraqi and
Burmese refugee communities having lower employment rates and lower median income across the states. The authors conclude
that national origin seems to be more highly correlated with positive economic outcomes than location of resettlement. They
offer some suggestions for why this might be the case, including the fact that many Iraqi refugees are widows with limited
experience of the workforce. The authors also note that to get a fuller picture of resettlement outcomes, research should
be conducted on non-economic factors such as levels of civic participation and refugees’ sense of belonging to the community
where they have resettled (Erik Jacobson, Montclair State University).
The Perils of Expedited Removal: How Fast-Track Deportations Jeopardize Asylum Seekers,
American Immigration Council, May 2017, 28 pp.
Authors: Kathryn Shepherd & Royce Bernstein Murray
paper documents what is happening to women and children crossing the U.S.-Mexico border and seeking asylum in the U.S. For
the most part, they are fleeing horrific violence in Central America. Using information drawn from thousands of cases of families
detained at the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas, this report illustrates the difficulties these asylum
seekers are having navigating the fast-track removal process known as expedited removal. Among the problems documented are
a lack of ability for some to fully understand the credible fear interview process, a failure of some asylum officers to follow
procedures designed to elicit information from the asylum seekers who otherwise might not feel comfortable talking about sensitive
subjects; distraction caused by the traumas suffered in the home country, family separation by U.S. authorities, or medical
illnesses; limited access to interpreting services for those who speak less common languages; and lack of legal representation.
Those given a negative credible fear determination rarely are successful in having the negative determination reversed unless
they have a lawyer representing them. The cases highlighted in this report raise questions about the appropriateness of using
fast-track removal for individuals fleeing traumatic violence and seeking refuge in the U.S. (Maurice Belanger, Maurice
Crossing the Line: U.S. Border Agents Illegally Reject Asylum Seekers,
Human Rights First, May, 2017, 26 pp.
Authors: B. Shaw Drake, Eleanor Acer, & Olga Byrne
report, based on the cases of 125 individuals and families, documents the difficulties asylum seekers are having requesting
asylum at the U.S.-Mexican border. In many cases and at multiple ports of entry, asylum seekers are being turned away by Customs
and Border Protection (CBP) officers without being referred to an asylum officer. Many are told that they must have an "appointment"
from Mexican officials before they can seek asylum in the U.S. or that the U.S. is no longer providing asylum. Others are
intimidated or coerced by CBP officers into abandoning their attempt to gain safety. Some asylum seekers have resorted to
enlisting lawyers to accompany them to the border to ensure that CBP officers follow their own rules. Those who are turned
away-many fleeing violence in Central America-face violence and even death if returned to their home country. Those turned
back into Mexico have increasingly been at risk for kidnapping, extortion, rape, and even murder, as cartels have increased
their surveillance of U.S. ports of entry and see asylum seekers who have been turned away as easy targets. The authors report
that the practice of turning back asylum seekers, a problem that has been documented for many years, has proliferated since
the November 2016 election. (Maurice Belanger, Maurice Belanger Associates)
Overview of Refugee Resettlement in the United States,
Niskanen Center, March, 2017, 12 pp.
Author: Kristie De Peña
Though the federal government
retains control of the refugee resettlement process in the United States, it must consult with individual states for effective
and responsible resettlement. The Niskanen Center's report, Overview of Refugee Resettlement in the United States,
provides a summary and assessment of U.S. refugee resettlement. Currently, 21.3 million refugees worldwide require some form
of assistance from the world community; 4.9 million Syrians have registered as refugees since 2011. Individuals seeking refugee
status in the U.S. must receive a referral from the United States Refugees Admissions Program. All applicants are vetted through
rigorous biometric security checks and medical screenings by several government bodies before being interviewed by United
States Citizenship and Immigration Services, while Syrian refugees undergo an additional "Enhanced Syrian Review."
Applicants may be deemed inadmissible on health-related grounds or a variety of criminal grounds. Once a refugee is evaluated
and allowed entry, the federal government must work within the state's resettlement structure. Most states are enrolled in
state-administered programs and are reimbursed for the total costs of their refugee cash assistance and refugee medical assistance
programs, though several states use models involving volunteer agencies and nonprofits or public-private partnerships. While
states are crucial to refugee resettlement, recent legal challenges from governors have aimed to stop or curb the resettlement
of Syrian refugees in their states. The author maintains that such directives contradict traditional American principles and
suggests that the federal government give stronger consideration to state recommendations so that refugees are resettled in
areas where they are more likely to be welcomed and supported. (Sarah Purdy for The ILC Public Education Institute)
Social Science Research Network, March 1, 2017, 54 pp.
Author: Elizabeth Keyes
Believing that the 1951
Refugee Convention fails to cover all types of forced migration in the modern world, and that new approaches to protection
for "unconventional refugees" need to be developed beyond refugee status, the author - Director of the Immigrant
Rights Clinic at the University of Baltimore School of Law -- spells out the rationale for an easily administered "sojourner
status" that would be country-specific -- similar in some respects to the Temporary Protected Status program. The status
would last for a period of five years, and would be granted only when certain conditions have been met, e.g. applicants would
have to have close relatives in the U.S. In addition, the U.S. would bear some responsibility for the instability in the home
country, and would undertake meaningful efforts to address the root causes of the displacement. There would also be a clear
understanding that the ultimate goal of the program is repatriation, not resettlement. One goal of the new policy would be
to "fit the response to the actual migration flow." The proposed approach would have special relevance to
the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. The author believes that "do(ing) something
less-than-perfectly satisfactory" is better than doing nothing at all, as the pressure to migrate is difficult to contain,
and illegal flows create worse problems in the long run. One advantage of the proposed system is that it would avoid
costly and time-consuming individual legal proceedings. "The solution replaces costly individualized adjudications with
broader, simpler protection that is easier to access. It privileges investment in the security and governance of the sending
countries as the only durable way to change migration patterns in the long-term."
The U Visa's Failed Promise for Survivors of Domestic Violence,
Available at SSRN, November 19, 2016, 38 pp.
Author: Natalie Nanasi
Recognizing the unique vulnerabilities
of immigrants who become victims of crime, Congress enacted the U visa, a form of immigration relief that provides victims,
including survivors of domestic violence, a path to legal status. Along with this humanitarian aim, the U visa was intended
to aid law enforcement in efforts to investigate and prosecute crime, based on the notion that victims without legal status
might otherwise be too fearful to "come out of the shadows" by reporting offenses to the police. Survivors
were required to cooperate with law enforcement as a condition for receiving legal status. The author of this article argues
that the interest of victims, who may have legitimate reasons for not wanting to cooperate with law enforcement, have
often been ignored in the U visa process. Despite early feminists' support for punitive approaches, "many scholars and
advocates argue that the pendulum has swung too far and that the deprivation of choice inherent in mandatory legal interventions
can be extraordinarily harmful to survivors of domestic violence." The author recommends that the requirements for U
visas should be rewritten to permit exceptions especially for "survivors who are too traumatized to engage with law enforcement,
for those whose safety or security would be compromised by reporting or cooperating, or for victims who can demonstrate that
a law enforcement agency arbitrarily or unreasonably refused to sign a certification form."
Addressing the Syrian Refugee Crisis,
Brookings Institute, December 16, 2016, 9 pp.
Authors: Jessica Brandt & Robert L. McKenzie
a tradition dating back to 1921, Brookings scholars in late 2016 provided recommendations to the incoming Trump administration
on a range of vital public policy issues, including how to handle the Syrian refugee crisis. According to the authors
of refugee policy brief, the scale of Syrian humanitarian "catastrophe" is unprecedented and threatens to undermine
the security of frontline states in the region, like Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey, which have taken in 5 million Syrians living
outside the borders of Syria. To effectively deal with the crisis will require both an American commitment to resettle a small
number of these refugees and support for refugees remaining in frontline states. Noting that the numbers and threat of Syrian
refugees in the U.S. have been "overstated in public discourse," and that our government gives preference to vulnerable
refugees, such as single mothers with children, this policy paper argues that the U.S. posture towards refugees will shape
the response of the world community, and that the U.S. should follow through on its commitment to resettle 110,000 refugees
in 2017 (a 30 percent increase from 2016). In addition, the administration must make Syrian refugee education in countries
of first asylum a top priority, ensuring that all refugee children living in the Mideast have access to primary and secondary
education by September of 2017, so as not to create "environments where violent extremism can take hold." In addition,
barriers to refugee employment need to be lowered, so that parents are not dependent on child labor and are willing to send
their children to school.
Refugee Integration in the United States
Center for American Progress & Fiscal Policy Institute, June, 2016, 56 pp.
Authors: David Dyssegaard Kallick
& Silva Mathema
Refugee Integration in the United States analyzes levels of economic and social
integration of refugees over time through the study of Somali, Burmese, Hmong and Bosnian refugee groups. This report examines
data from the American Community Survey and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and finds that refugees are
integrating well into their new communities as evidenced by growing rates of labor force participation, business and home
ownership, naturalization and English language acquisition. For example, the homeownership rate for Bosnian refugees rose
from 57 percent to 72 percent after 10 years' residence in the United States, exceeding the average homeownership rate of
the U.S.-born. Burmese refugee men saw their wages nearly double after 10 years in the U.S. The significant impact of these
refugee groups on the economic revitalization of metropolitan areas such as St. Louis and Minneapolis is a clear sign of their
successful integration. To ensure that refugees can reach their full economic and social potential to contribute to community
improvements and the growth of the U.S. economy, the authors recommend that federal, state and local governments invest in
refugee integration efforts. (Jasmina Popaja for The Immigrant Learning Center Public Education Institute)
The Integration Outcomes of U.S. Refugees: Successes and Challenges,
Migration Policy Institute, June, 2015, 36 pp.
Authors: Randy Capps et al
Originally prepared to inform a 2014 MPI Roundtable on the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program, this report examines trends
in refugee arrivals and integration using previously unpublished data from the State Department and the Office of Refugee
Resettlement, as well as data from U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey. The researchers examine educational attainment,
English language proficiency, household income, and participation in public benefit programs. They find "that, as their
years in the United States increase, refugees' income levels and benefits use approximate those of the U.S. born, suggesting
that most refugees become self-supporting over time - a core goal of the U.S. resettlement program." However, refugees
arriving in recent years with low levels of education and literacy: Bhutanese, Burmese, Liberians, and Somalis, in particular,
may be at a disadvantage compared to those resettled earlier. The 2007-2009 recession had a particularly adverse impact on
low-skilled workers. Moreover, the U.S. resettlement program, with its emphasis on early employment, provides minimal support
for education and language services for these groups.
Strengthening Communities by Welcoming All Residents: A Federal Strategic Action Plan on Immigrant
& Refugee Integration,
The White House Task Force on New Americans, April, 2015, 64 pp.
November 2015, President Barack Obama created a formal interagency body, called the White House Task Force on New Americans,
to develop a plan of action to integrate immigrants into the civic, social, and economic life of the nation. Personnel from
18 federal departments and agencies served on the task force. The Task Force sought public input to guide its deliberations,
including a National Call for Ideas, which generated approx. 350 submissions, online stakeholder listening sessions, and site
visits to local communities. The plan contains 48 recommendations in four broad areas: building welcoming communities, strengthening
pathways to naturalization and promoting civic engagement, supporting skill development and entrepreneurship and protecting
New American workers, and expanding opportunities for linguistic integration and education. Within each of these four
areas, the report reviews existing federal, state, and local efforts, and then outlines recommended actions to be taken by
relevant federal agencies. In December 2015, the task force is scheduled to submit a status report to the President on progress
made in implementing these recommendations. Although the report refrains from recommending the establishment of a separate
White House office to coordinate, monitor, and support integration efforts in the future, it does call for “strengthening
the underlying federal infrastructure” and creating “interagency working groups” to focus on key issues,
such as workforce development. The National Center on Immigrant Integration Pollicy of the Migration Policy Institute has
assembled on its website the recommendations submitted to the White House Task Force by a variety of national and local organizations.
Unaccompanied Migrant Children from Central America: Context, Causes, and Responses,
Center for Latin American & Latino Studies, American University, November, 2014, 44
Authors: Dennis Stinchcomb & Eric Hershberg
This paper examines conditions in
the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras that have produced a steady increase in the
migration of unaccompanied children (UAC) to the United States. The three primary "push" factors are:
economic stagnation and social exclusion, societal violence, and household violence. The report also traces the hardships
and abuses that these children undergo as they traverse Mexico on their way to the U.S., including sexual assaults,
kidnappings, and disappearances. "Given the range and severity of the abuses," the authors observe, "UAC migration
on a mass scale seems implausible absent grave, even life-threatening circumstances in migrants' communities of origin."
Reinforcing the primacy of push factors is the fact that children are dispersing throughout the region, including Nicaragua,
Costa Rica , Panama, and Mexico. Nicaragua, for example, saw a 420 percent increase in asylum claims from 2012 to 2013.
The U.N. also reports that large numbers of central Americans (130,000 within El Salvador alone) are internally displaced
within their own countries. "These numbers," the authors write, "cast doubt on unsubstantiated allegations
that lax border enforcement and U.S. immigration polici8es, such as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program,
are primarily to blame for the surge in Central American Migration." The report also looks at the trajectory
of UACs after arrival in the U.S. and steps that have been taken, albeit limited in scope, to afford these children
the opportunity to make the legal case for asylum. The Ford Foundation provided support for the research involved in producing
You Don't Have Rights Here" US Border Screening and Returns of Central Americans to Risk
of Serious Harm,
Human Rights Watch, October, 2014, 44 pp.
Author: Clara Long
For this article, Human Rights Watch (HRW) collected data from more than 683,000 Customs and Border
Protection (CBP) apprehensions between 2011 and 2012 and interviewed 35 Central American migrants in 2014 who had recently
been deported to Honduras or who were in US detention. HRW also interviewed border patrol officials in McAllen, Texas,
migrant service providers, lawyers, academics, and government officials in Honduras and the United States. The report found
flaws in the effectiveness of the screening system of CBP and immigration agencies ostensibly designed to "identify people
fleeing serious risks to their lives and safety." Based on her analysis of the data and the first-hand accounts detailed
in the report, the author argues that in many cases, expedited removal does not allow for adequate consideration of asylum
claims; "...the fears they expressed should have led US immigration authorities to give their cases sufficient scrutiny
before they were returned to their home country." The article notes the prevalence of violence, gang wars, sexual harassment
and abuse, and the breakdown of the justice system, in the environments into which these migrants are deported. To increase
the accuracy of assessment of the danger of immigrants and to combat the identified priority of CBP officers who have been
shown through this research to be focused primarily on removal, rather than an assessment of the dangers present required
by the principle of nonrefoulement, the author makes a number of recommendations. These include: having CPB apply a presumption
of fear of return to migrants from countries where basic security is lacking, and strengthening legal representation for indigent
migrants. (Kate Lesnewich, Rutgers Graduate School of Social Work)
Believable Victims: Asylum Credibility and the Struggle for Objectivity,
Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, 16: 1 (2015), Forthcoming, 14 pp.
Author: Michael Kagan
This article assesses the current state of the art in adjudicating asylum claims both
in the U.S. and internationally. The author finds that the U.S. process is flawed and highly subjective and "in danger
of being left behind" by developments elsewhere in the world. Acknowledging the paucity of evidence available to
substantiate asylum claims, and the role that the adjudicator must play in determining the credibility of the applicant, the
author nonetheless argues for a "more objective analytical approach" similar to the one developed by UNHCR and incorporated
into a training manual produced by the European Commission. As the consequences for negative determinations can be grave,
i.e. return to countries where applicants could be persecuted or killed, the standard of proof in such cases, the author points
out, should be low. Past experience also suggests that asylum officers often minimize the threat to applicants, especially
during the early stages of a world crisis. The author also suggests that the U.S. may be rushing to judgment on the veracity
of young people fleeing gang violence and other threats in Central America. "Implicit assumptions about how foreign countries
work and, most importantly, how a genuine victim would act or talk can lead to inconsistent, unreliable decisions with grave
consequences for people in danger."
Children Fleeing Central America: Stories from the Front Lines in Florida,
Americans for Immigrant Justice, August, 2014, 43 pp.
Prepared by: Cheryl
Since 2009, thousands of unaccompanied children in the "Northern Triangle" - Guatemala, Honduras
and El Salvador - have fled their homes in search of a better life in the United States. Published by an organization that
has operated an immigrant Children's Legal Program in Florida since 1999, this report identifies the factors that lead these
children to seek refuge in the U.S. and recommends steps to protect them, legally and physically, upon entering the country.
Replete with quotes, interviews and case histories, the report describe lives of desperation in Central America, harrowing
border crossings and deplorable conditions in the "hieleras" (Spanish word for iceboxes), or detention centers run
by the U.S government. The author points out that Post-Traumatic Stress disorders and other mental health conditions
"are disturbingly common in this vulnerable population." She also notes that many of these children can assert a
legal right to stay in the U.S., if they are represented by attorneys or accredited representatives. The report explains the
process of transferring these children to the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which enables them to stay in
shelters and/or to be reunited with relatives in the U.S. To ensure the humane treatment of the migrant minors, the report
recommends better conditions in detention centers, faster court processing without sacrificing due process, access to
refugee processing in countries of origin, and humanitarian relief in the form of Temporary Protected Status. (Ariella
Katz Suchow for The Immigrant Learning Center, Inc.'s Public Education Institute)
New Directions in Research on Human Trafficking,
The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 653 (May 2014),
Author: Ronald Weitzer
Introducing an entire issue of the ANNALS devoted to human trafficking, Ronald
Weitzer, Professor of Sociology at George Washington University, laments the paucity of rigorous research on the subject.
As a result, "much of the popular writing on human trafficking has been anecdotal or sensationalistic..."
Too much attention, according to the author, has been paid to the problem of sexual exploitation, to the neglect of labor
trafficking - in agriculture, manufacturing, fishing, mining, and domestic service. Moreover, "definitional problems
plague both scholarly and policy discussions on human trafficking." Some people, for example, claim that any illegal
migration for the purpose of obtaining work, including prostitution, should be classified as trafficking, even if the migrant
gave tacit or open consent to such an arrangement. The author disputes "four central claims" that are often made
about trafficking: that the number of victims is huge; that the problem is growing in magnitude, that human trafficking is
the 2nd or 3rd largest organized criminal enterprise in the world, after illegal drug and weapons trading;
and that sex trafficking is more prevalent and/or more serious than labor trafficking. He is particularly harsh on the U.S.
government and the International Labor Organization for greatly inflating the number of people victimized by trafficking.
The research in this volume suggests that "the lived experiences of human trafficking and migration vary tremendously.
They range from highly coercive and exploitative to cooperative, consensual, and mutually beneficial relationship between
migrants and their facilitators, with more complex gray areas in between the two poles."
Belonging: The Resettlement Experiences of Hmong Refugees in Texas and Germany,
Migration Policy Institute, September 30, 2014, 9 pp.
Author: Faith Nibbs
This article is drawn from Faith Nibbs' book on the same subject. The author compares the resettlement experience of Hmong
refugees in two different locations: Dallas-Fort Worth in Texas and the small town of Gammertingen in Germany. Approximately
120,000 Hmong, a minority group from Laos, were resettled in third countries beginning in 1978, primarily in the U.S., but
also in Argentina, Australia, Canada, France, French Guyana, and Germany. Although there were local sponsors in both locations,
the role and responsibilities of sponsors differed considerably. In the U.S. "a more diffuse approach privileging
immediate self-sufficiency led to weaker links between refugees and sponsors," whereas in Gammertingen, a kind of division
of responsibility was worked out between local government and sponsors, in which the former could focus on the mechanics of
resettlement, whereas sponsors could concentrate on socialization activities, or "benevolent inclusion." The imperative
of early employment was not as strong in the German context as it was in the U.S. Indeed, in Germany, the refugees were given
a full year of language and cultural instruction to prepare them for the labor market. In the U.S. context, the relationship
with the sponsor was "hierarchical" in nature, with approval based on meeting sponsor's expectations for early employment
and quick adaptation to local culture. In Gammertingen, sponsors became "special friends" and relationships often
lasted a lifetime. The author devotes much attention to the capacity of refugees to navigate different reception environments
and achieve results beneficial to the community and themselves.
No Childhood Here: Why Central American Children are Fleeing Their Homes,
American Immigration Council, July 1, 2014, 5 pp.
Author: Elizabeth Kennedy
This essay discusses the role that gang violence, extreme poverty, and family separation play in pushing Central American
children to leave their home countries. The author was a Fulbright fellow who lived in El Salvador and interviewed
322 minors who attempted to migrate to the U.S. Males fear assault or death from gang activity and abuse from corrupt officials
while females express fear of rape and kidnapping from the same sources. Meanwhile, fear arises from inadequately equipped,
corrupt government and legal systems that fail to provide protection or programs to counter violence. However, in the most
rural areas of El Salvador, extreme poverty drives migration, especially for adolescent males expected to provide support
for their family members. Meanwhile, for one third of children interviewed, family reunification seems to be the primary motivation
for leaving. Over 90 percent of the children had a family member in the United States, with just over 50 percent having one
or both parents there. The U.S. is not always the destination of choice as many move within El Salvador or to neighboring
countries. While risks associated with journey to the U.S. create trepidation among parents, families often decide that long-term
safety in the U.S. is worth the short-term risk. As children reach adolescence, gang threats increase, as does the potential
to withstand the rigors of the long and hard journey. Even police move from place to place to shield their family members
from retaliation from gangs. The author believes that these children should be given full opportunity to assert their claims
to asylum in the U.S. under relevant statutes. (Colin Liebtag)
Restoring America's Commitment to Refugees and Humanitarian Protection,
(Article available through subscription only)
Law Journal, Spring, 2013, 25 pp.
Authors: Eleanor Acer & Tara Magner
of this article discuss flaws in existing immigration law which limit the rights and protections afforded to asylum seekers
and propose policy and legislative reforms designed to ensure humanitarian rights for such individuals while promoting efficiency
and decreasing government costs. Among the roadblocks faced by asylum seekers are: a one year filing deadline for asylum claims,
delays in the court system, policies used to exclude individuals deemed to be potential terrorist threats, evidence requirements
to establish membership in a persecuted social group, and lack of protection based on humanitarian needs for security. In
addition, the authors object to the use of penal facilities to detain asylum seekers -- a practice they see as both a human
rights violation and a waste of resources owing to its high cost compared to other approaches such as monitoring. They also
find flaws in U.S. maritime interdiction of Haitian asylum seekers; language barriers and the absence of interpreters
make it difficult to assert asylum claims. In addition to legislative reforms, the authors also propose steps to eliminate
backlogs in an underfunded asylum adjudication system. Potentially, handling more cases in a better equipped and staffed asylum
office rather than immigration court would reduce adjudication time, as would the provision of appropriate legal orientation
and representation. The paper also discusses the need for protection for stateless persons. Finally, the paper urges passage
of provisions in the bipartisan Senate immigration reform bill that would achieve compliance with terms of the Refugee Convention,
or in lieu of a comprehensive approach, special legislation to address problems in the asylum and refugee system. (Colin Liebtag)
Creating a More Responsive and Seamless Refugee Protection System: The Scope, Promise and Limitations
of Temporary Protection Programs,
Center for Migration Studies, Journal on Migration and Human Security, 2014, 29
Author: Donald Kerwin
This paper reviews the broad range of U.S. temporary protection programs, including
temporary protected status (TPS), humanitarian parole, executive discretion, "T" visas for victims of human
trafficking, and "U" visas for crime victims. Although each program addresses a specific need, with greater or lesser
degrees of effectiveness, the programs combined leave many gaps. The author points out that in 2011 "only one-fourth
of the world's 72 million forced migrants - those displaced by violence, conflict, development projects, natural disasters
and hazards - met the refugee definition" under the U.N. Protocol (and the U.S. Refugee Act of 1980 which is modelled
on the U.N. Protocol). For example, TPS does not cover people from designated states who arrive after the effective
date of the designation, even those who fled life-threatening situations, and the parole authority of the executive branch,
although used repeatedly prior to 1980, is severely limited by the Refugee Act of 1980. For these and other reasons, the author
makes a number of recommendations, including the creation of a new "protection" visa limited to 10,000 per year
for primary beneficiaries; allowing long-term TPS recipients to adjust to permanent resident status through an automatically
updated registry date; and prioritizing TPS-designated states for reconstruction and development assistance in order to make
repatriation a viable option.
Children on the Run: Unaccompanied Children Leaving Central America and Mexico and the Need for International
UNHCR, The UN Refugee Agency, 2014, 114 pp.
Alarmed by the "surge"
of unaccompanied children apprehended by U.S. immigration authorities, UNHCR conducted interviews with 404 children to understand
their reasons for migrating and whether any of them were in need of international protection. The study was "specifically
designed to be representative and statistically significant for drawing conclusions and inferences..." Over half the
children said that their primary reason was to escape the violence in their homes or communities. "Two overarching patterns
of harm related to potential international protection needs emerged: violence by organized armed criminal actors and violence
in the home." Noting that UNHCR and the international community have an obligation to step in when governments are unable
to protect their own citizens, UNHCR concluded that on average 58 percent of unaccompanied children arriving in the U.S. from
Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador are in need of international protection. The study explains the meaning of protection
under international law. The "cornerstone" of that protection is the guarantee against return to danger or non-refoulement
and the ability to remain lawfully in the country of asylum. Even if these children do not meet the definition of refugee
under the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, they should be granted "access to a process to
review their eligibility for a formal, legal - complementary or subsidiary - status, with defined rights and obligations,
for the period of time necessary to safeguard their safety and security." The balance of the report provides recommendations
to the governments of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and the United States in three broad areas: recognizing
emerging forms of displacement in Central America and the need for international protection, strengthening and harmonizing
regional and national frameworks for ensuring international protection, and addressing the root causes of the problem.
A Treacherous Journey: Child Migrants Navigating the U.S. Immigration System
Center for Gender & Refugee Studies (CGRS) & Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), 2014, 84 pp. + appendix
Lisa Frydman, Elizabeth Dallam, & Blaine Bookey
This report addresses a range of issues stemming from the
dramatic increase in the number of unaccompanied children crossing the southern border of the United States. The majority
of the 24,668 children who crossed in FY2013 were from Mexico and the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Guatemala
and Honduras. Many are fleeing violence in their homelands and/or seeking to reunite with family members in the U.S. The
study draws on qualitative data from case records compiled by the two sponsoring organizations, published studies, and statistics
provided by USCIS and EOIR. Although attempts have been made in the past, most notably through the Trafficking Victims Protection
Reauthorization Act of 2008, to protect children in immigration proceedings, the authors find major gaps and shortcomings
in the system. Although some children are represented by volunteer attorneys, the majority must navigate the system without
representation and in most cases in an unfamiliar language. The report recommends that the government mandate the provision
of legal counsel for these children to ensure protection of their interests. At the same time, all children should benefit
from the appointment of child advocates to guide them through the system. The authors also urge Congress to enact legislation
that would make the principle of the "best interests of the child" the "primary consideration" in all
immigration proceedings and to enact a new form of immigration relief that would prevent deportations when not in the best
interests of the child. The report also urges the U.S. government to support safe return and reintegration programs for repatriated
children. The balance of the report offers analyses and recommendations in specific areas of the law, such as procedures
for granting Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) and challenges in obtaining T and U Visas for child victims of trafficking
and children who have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of having been a victim of certain serious
crimes. The study was funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
Gang and Cartel Violence: A Reason to Grant Political Asylum from Mexico and Central America,
Yale Journal of International Law Online 31 (2012), Posted December 21, 2013, 15 pp.
Author: Jillian Nicole Blake
The growing threat of gang-related violence in Mexico and Central America
has led to a significant increase in the number of asylum applicants seeking safety and protection in the U.S. Even
as this trend has intensified, U.S. approval rates remain low- only 1.1 percent of asylum requests from Mexico in 2011 were
granted, compared with 35 percent from China, and 67 percent from Iraq the same year. The author describes the extent of gang
and cartel violence in Mexico and Central America to support the basis for protection from gangs and cartels under U.S. law.
According to the essay, "Recent gang-based asylum judicial decisions and scholarship focus heavily on the ‘particular
social group' persecution ground." The essay argues that the United States needs a broader perspective to create
"coherent standards on the legal status and rights of asylum seekers." Observing that refugee law is simultaneously
international law, the author discusses gang-based asylum within three theoretical contexts: humanitarian, political, and
human rights -suggesting that an integration of all three approaches would develop a best practice model for refugee law in
the U.S. "The holistic political asylum approach advanced in this Essay combines the level, type, and probability of
harm (humanitarian), with lack of sovereign control, political conflict, and opposition to a political element (political),
with the failure of state protection (human rights)." (Jade Flora-Holmquist)
Resettlement at Risk: Meeting Emerging Challenges to Refugee
Resettlement in Local Communities,
Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS),
February, 2013, 30 pp.
Author: Melanie Nezer
Commissioned by the J.M. Kaplan Fund, this paper was written by Melanie Nezer, Senior Director of U.S. Policy and
Advocacy for the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS). The paper explores the impact of resettlement on local communities and
looks at the current rise of anti-refugee sentiment through case studies in three states: Tennessee, New Hampshire, and Georgia.
Beginning with an examination of how the current refugee admissions program operates, Nezer discusses policy shifts within
the program over the last few decades, moving from a model focused on long-term support and gradual integration to one of
immediate immersion and self-sufficiency. Nezer also comments on the changing demographics of U.S. refugee populations, as
the government has shifted focus from the resettlement of refugees of political concern to the United States, e.g. Vietnamese
and Soviet, to those with the most critical humanitarian needs. According to the paper, in 2012 over 70 percent of refugees
admitted in the U.S. came from just three countries: Bhutan, Burma, and Iraq. In discussing the rising tide of anti-refugee
sentiment, Nezer notes fiscal concerns over scarce resources among local governments and social service agencies, unemployment,
and the higher visibility of today's refugees when resettled in smaller communities as factors. The spread of anti-immigrant
groups and anti-immigrant legislation, along with the growth of Islamophobia, have also played a role according to the author.
The report concludes with a number of recommendations for countering the refugee backlash and to foster integration and openness
in communities. Recommendations include methods for resettlement agencies to build capacity and gain the support of local
and national stakeholders, and establishing national benchmarks for integration along with a system of evaluation that measures
progress. The Appendices provide a variety of tables and charts relating to local, national, and global resettlement statistics.
The Faltering US Refugee Protection System: Legal
and Policy Responses to Refugees, Asylum Seekers, and Others in Need of Protection,
Migration Policy Institute & the European University
Institute, 2011, 38 pp.
Funded by the European Union, this paper argues that the U.S. refugee protection system
"needs significant policy attention and revitalization." The author Donald Kerwin traces the evolution of
the U.S. Refugee Assistance Program (USRAP) from 1975 to the present -- a period during which the U.S. admitted nearly 3 million
refugees, three-quarters of whom came from Southeast Asia or the former Soviet Union. In recent years, the character and composition
of the refugee population has changed dramatically. In FY 2009, for example, the U.S. admitted refugees from more than
60 nationalities, including 25 African nationalities - often in a deliberate attempt to address the needs of the most vulnerable
refugees. Many have limited formal education and have languished in refugee camps for many years, yet they are expected
to achieve self-sufficiency in eight months, at a time when the economy is in recession and job opportunities are limited.
Kerwin also reviews how USRAP has been impacted by new security measures put in place after the 2001 terrorist attacks. Finally,
he discusses the consequences of interdiction and expedited removal on the ability of asylum seekers to find protection in
Refugee Resettlement in the United States:
An Examination of Challenges and Proposed Solutions,
Columbia University School
of International and Public Affairs, May, 2010, 22 pp.
This report was commissioned by the International Rescue
Committee and produced by a team of six graduate students under the guidance of Professor Howard Roy Williams. The report
is based on extensive research and interviews with key figures in the refugee resettlement field and is intended to inform
the dialogue on system reform initiated by the National Security Council. The report summarizes the strengths
and weaknesses of the U.S. resettlement program and makes a series of recommendations to improve program operations and outcomes,
including regular consultations with refugees on program operations, more sophisticated tracking of outcomes beyond short-term
employment, and a "comprehensive study of the domestic resettlement system to determine optimal funding levels."
Iraqi Refugees in the United States: In Dire Straits,
International Rescue Committee, June, 2009, 36 pp.
Based on field observations in several U.S.
cities by a private "Commission on Iraqi Refugees" appointed by the International Rescue Committee, this report
finds that the federal refugee resettlement program "faces major structural challenges in its organization and funding."
With 17,000 Iraqi refugees slated for admission during FY 2009, many of whom suffering from trauma, injury, and illness, with
large numbers of widows with children, the economic downturn is wreaking havoc on the ability of individual refugees to achieve
rapid self-sufficiency. Without policy reform, many Iraqi refugees, according to the Commission, will end up homeless
and in long-term poverty. The report contains five recommendations for policy reform, including alternatives to early employment
to permit refugee professionals to participate in recertification programs.