Resettlement at Risk: Meeting Emerging Challenges to Refugee Resettlement in Local Communities

Melanie Nezer
Date of Publication: 
February, 2013
Source Organization: 

Commissioned by the J.M. Kaplan Fund, "Resettlement at Risk: Meeting Emerging Challenges to Refugee Resettlement in Local Communities" 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. (Abstract courtesy Nicholas Montalto, PhD.)

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Nezer, M. (2013). Resettlement at Risk: Meeting Emerging Challenges to Refugee Resettlement in Local Communities. New York: Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society. Retrieved from