Refugee-driven and policy-driven resettlement: Examining resettlement geographies and service provision of Refugee Community Organizations
Gonzalez Benson, Odessa
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Refugee resettlement policy forwards its goal of socioeconomic integration through appropriate geographic placement and service provision. However, refugees and their communities, naturally, very much also determine their own resettlement, via self-placement and refugee-based services. My research examines (a) self-placement or onward migration patterns by refugees and (b) service provision by refugee-run community organizations, and the ways in which those patterns and services intersect with policy. By examining resettlement as refugee-driven, this dissertation complements existing U.S.-based research, the bulk of which primarily draws from the perspective of policy and institutions. This research is nationwide in scope and applies a case study approach, focusing on Bhutanese refugees, one of the new refugee cohorts in the post-911 era of resettlement in the United States. Empirically, I apply both quantitative and qualitative methods to examine data from several sources, and I partnered with refugee organizations for primary data collection, participant recruitment, and analyses. In the quantitative part of the dissertation, I lay the national landscape of primary arrival placement and onward migration patterns of Bhutanese refugees in maps, and then conduct multivariate analysis of relevant city-level factors, with particular focus on local immigrant policies and labor markets. For the qualitative part, I conducted semi- structured interviews and four focus groups with key members of 40 Bhutanese refugee organizations in 30 cities across the United States. I analyze themes and patterns in the data to formulate a typology of services and to understand scope of service provision, and then theorize how refugees’ organizations fit within broader policy systems and institutional networks. Informed by a refugee-driven perspective on resettlement, findings reveal theoretical insights and practical relevance for policy and practice with refugees.