Refugees, Rights, and Responsibilities: Bridging the Integration Gap

Report Author: 
Megan J. Ballard
Original Date of Publication: 
September, 2017

The author of this paper makes two important arguments: first, that the U.S. refugee resettlement program has operated under an early employment goal that "undermines" the goal of successful integration; and second, that private sector actors can help to overcome this deficiency, in part through a workshop program piloted in Spokane, WashingtonThe author considers refugee integration to be a multi-dimensional process involving 10 different domains (a theoretical model borrowed from two British scholars: Aliastair Ager and Alison Strang). Despite a mandate from the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees requiring the 37 countries admitting refugees to facilitate their integration, the U.S. has chosen to rely instead on "a free market approach to social welfare" that has been especially ineffective since the 2008 financial crisis. For example, the growth of the contingent workforce has resulted in lower pay and fewer benefits for so-called entry-level jobs.  Moreover, refugees trapped in such jobs lack the time and resources to acquire the English language skills, job training, and social capital necessary to truly advance in the job market. Recognizing the flaws in the U.S. refugee resettlement program, groups in Spokane developed "an interactive, multicultural, and multilinguistic opportunity for refugees to learn about their legal rights and responsibilities." The balance of the paper explains why this program was developed, what it accomplished, and how it was implemented. The author concludes that "local communities can support refugee integration even in the absence of a U.S. integration policy." (Diversity Dynamics)

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Citation: 

Ballard, M. J. (2017). Refugees, Rights, and Responsibilities: Bridging the Integration Gap. University of Pennsylvania Journal of International Law, 39(1), 64.

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