Refugees Welcome! recognizes the importance of not only staying up to date on news from mainstream media, but also relevant academic publications on issues pertaining to immigrants and refugees in the United States. On this page, we provide brief summaries from recent academic articles, along with direct links to those articles.

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Article Title: How Can Social Media Be Helpful for Immigrants to Integrate Society in the US

Citation: Erdem, Bora. 2018. “How Can Social Media Be Helpful for Immigrants to Integrate Society in the US.” European Journal of Multidisciplinary Studies, 3: 74-79.

Summary: This article discusses the role of social media platforms in integrating immigrants into the society of the United States. The author defines immigrant integration as “the process whereby newcomers in a particular country become part of the hosting community,”  while social media is described as “a collection of online channels of communication that have a dedication towards society-based inputs, collaboration, [and] improving interactions between different segments of the community […].” Having interviewed 30 immigrants to collect data on the interplay between social media and immigrant integration, the research postulates that: 1) social media was the respondents’ most prefered internet application, 2) these immigrants spend more time on social media in the U.S. than in their origin countries, and 3) the interviewees believe that social media makes cultural and language integration easier. These findings support the author’s hypothesis that social media can be leveraged to help immigrants integrate into the American society by sharing connections and vital information about residing in the U.S.

Link to full article: Research Gate


Article Title: The Refugee of My Enemy Is My Friend: Rivalry Type and Refugee Admission

Citation: Jackson, Joshua L. and Atkinson, Douglas B. 2019. “The Refugee of My Enemy Is My Friend: Rivalry Type and Refugee Admission.” Political Research Quarterly, 72(1): 63–74. doi: 10.1177/1065912918776136.

Summary: This article discusses the importance of interstate politics as one of the factors that contribute to a state’s decision to accept refugees. Specifically, scholars specializing in refugee policies point to the fact that states with “adversarial relationships are more likely to accept each other’s refugees” than states with friendly relations. In these cases, the most salient incentive for providing asylum comes from an ideological rivalry between two adversarial states, where “ideological rivals claim that their system of government is ideologically or morally superior to their rivals.” In this context, the acceptance of the rival’s refugees can act as a way to emphasize the harm and insufficiency of the other state – to the point that its own people want to escape their home country. Quantitative and qualitative data from 1960 to 2006 display a positive correlation between ideological factors (i.e. whether a country is democratic or not) and the count of refugees accepted by a receiver country in a given year. In short, the article concludes that ideological rivalry between two opposing states is one of the best explanations as to why some states accept tend to accept more refugees than others.

Link to full article (additional access required for full text): SAGE Journals

Article Title: Locating Refugees: A media analysis of refugees in the United States in “World Refugee Day” coverage

Citation: Hickerson, Andrea and Dunsmore, Kate. 2015. “Locating Refugees: A media analysis of refugees in the United States in “World Refugee Day” coverage.” Journalism Practice, 10(3). doi: 10.1080/17512786.2015.1025417.

Summary: This article explores how the topic of refugees was discussed in the American media during the 2018 World Refugee Day.  Using the media coverage of this UN-designated day, the researchers explored whether the American society views refugees through a domestic/local lens, or through a transnational one. Taking into account both the social and the cultural constructions that give meaning to this topic, the researchers utilized an online database to search through U.S. news content from 2000 to 2011 containing the phrase “World Refugee Day.” The research concluded that 75% of the coverage was “soft news,” with almost 30%  containing direct quotes from refugees themselves. These feature articles mostly display what the authors call the “needing care” and “giving care” framings, as well as the “persevering and successful refugee” framing. As a result, most of the media coverage framed refugees in a local rather than an international context and failed to highlight the political aspect of refugees as a global issue.

Link to full article (additional access required for full text): Research Gate

Article Title: Defending the Rights of Refugees: A Catholic Cause

Summary: The article delves into a Catholic point of view on how and why refugees should be welcomed to their desired destinations with open arms. With a concept called Catholic Social Teaching as her framework, the author focuses on “the Gospel, Papal teachings, and the example of Pope Francis himself,” to argue that the Church and its followers have plenty of reason to aid those who are forcibly displaced from their homes. According to the Gospel, the Holy Family–Jesus Christ, Mary the Virgin, and Saint Joseph–were refugees themselves fleeing from Judea to Egypt, and the author emphasizes that any of one us can become refugees and should have more sympathy towards those who already become one. In addition, numerous popes, like Popes Pius XII and John Paul II, have expressed the need for the Church to look after refugees through their encyclicals. In recent times, Pope Francis has been the most influential in urging both state and non-state actors to serve this vulnerable group of people, especially through his visits and remarks during the World Day of Migrants and Refugees. The author highlights that servant leadership exemplified by Pope Francis has pushed bishops in the U.S to exert pressure on the Trump Administration to design a more hospitable refugee program.

Link to full article: PDCNET

Article Title: Labor Market Assimilation of Refugees in the United States: Are They Worse Off?

Summary: This paper looks at the assimilation of immigrants into the U.S. labor market, and makes an important distinction between the assimilation of voluntary immigrants that seek economic benefits on the one hand, and that of refugees seeking safety on the other. Compared to other developed nations like Canada and those of the European Union, the U.S. place more emphasis when granting asylum on how many family members prospective migrants might bring along, rather than focusing on how well they will integrate economically. As a consequence, refugees that are granted asylum into the U.S. have more difficult experiences of assimilation into the domestic labor market than those who are admitted into other developed nations, such as Norway. Compared to natives and voluntary immigrants in the U.S., refugees statistically experience slower rates of labor market assimilation. The author argues that two main factors stifle economic prosperity of refugees in the U.S.: lack of transferable human capital/skills from home country and discrimination from employers. Ultimately, research shows that in the short-run, refugees perform worse in the U.S labor market than natives and economic immigrants, but that they do assimilate in the long-run, although seldom catching up to natives.

Link to full article: Digital Commons

Article Title: Revisiting Refugee Caps: A Legislative Proposal for Executive-Congressional Compromise

Summary: This paper presents an inherent flaw in the refugee admittance and resettlement system in the United States: the lack of cooperation between the executive and legislative branches. The Refugee Act of 1980, which amended the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), contains unclear wording that fails to specify the role of Congress in consulting with the President’s Cabinet representatives on refugee cap proposals. This lack of intergovernmental communication has previously resulted in wild fluctuations of the refugee cap, especially between the terms of Presidents Obama and Trump, and a lack of credibility when it comes to the United States’ stance on today’s refugee crisis. To alleviate this structural concern, the author proposes an amendment to the INA: that a refugee cap proposed by the president must be approved by the Committees on the Judiciary in Senate and the House by a two-thirds majority. This amendment will help bridge the concerns of the legislative and the executive branches by setting an annual cap that satisfies both humanitarian objectives and national security concerns.

Link to full article: Brigham Young University

Article Title: Capable and Culpable? The United States, RtoP, and Refugee Responsibility-Sharing

Summary: “Responsibility to Protect” (RtoP or R2P) is an international norm that exerts expectations on all capable states to intervene in civilian conflicts, if the country of the conflict is otherwise unable. The principle of RtoP has traditionally called upon military action from other states to resolve issues. However, in the case of asylum seekers and refugees, soft power tactics such as facilitating asylum and granting temporary protection can fulfill the expectations of RtoP. This article argues that the more culpable or guilty a nation is in contributing to these significant displacements, the more RtoP they should shoulder to relieve today’s refugee crisis. However, the lack of “responsibility allocation mechanisms” to fairly distribute the responsibility of dealing with refugees has given countries an excuse to neglect this transnational issue. Drawing parallels with concepts from environmental politics like “polluter pays,” “historical responsibility,” and “common but differentiated responsibilities” may serve as leverage to push developed countries to share the burdens of refuge management. Following this concept of culpability and RtoP, the author argues, that the United States should accept more Iraqi and Syrian refugees. To pressure developed countries to be more engaged in international refugee politics, refugee responsibility can be linked to national interest by framing RtoP as a collective security concept. Mass displacements can be seen as regional instability, and therefore a threat to national security. Advocates for the United States accepting more refugees can also appeal to  American values of redemption and exceptionalism as a savior-nation. Ultimately, these appeals to national interest, identity, and values may push the American government to bear their fair share in responding to the refugee crisis.

Link to article: Cambridge University Press


Summary: This article argues that undocumented immigrants should be entitled to a legal defense based on statutes of limitations from government enforcement agencies. The “statute of limitations” is a legal concept that mandates a certain period of limitation in bringing certain kinds of legal action—in the case of undocumented immigrants, being prosecuted for removal. In addition, the article criticizes the lack of sympathy and examination of the positive and peaceful impacts of these immigrants once they have entered and settled in America. Unfortunately, American law is designed to protect only American citizens, which, and especially under the Trump Administration, enables lawmakers to turn a blind eye on the need for a statute of limitations for these vulnerable individuals. The Immigration and Nationality Act tends to only favor the entry of immigrants with some sort of professional specialty that contributes to the advancement of the American society. With the current political climate and with the Republican Congress in full control of the INA, the author fears that immigration policies are becoming highly susceptible to manifest injustice. In conclusion, the current legal system’s failure to establish statutes of limitation in the case of undocumented immigrants undermines American values of equality and fairness.

Link to full article: Western New England Law Review

Article Title: Report Card on the Trump Administration’s Performance on Refugee and Humanitarian Protection

Summary: On World Refugee Day the global advocacy organization Refugees International (RI)  released a report with a card-type assessment of the Trump administration’s handling of humanitarian aid and refugee affairs. The report assesses the US government on six main areas: asylum, the U.S Refugee Admissions Program, Temporary Protected Status, humanitarian funding/diplomacy, refugee women/girls, and leadership on international migration issues. Compared to previous administrations in the 21st century, the Trump administration received failing scores. The Trump administration has, according to RI, failed to admit and process people escaping the conditions of their countries of origin, and has failed to provide adequate assistance in multilateral and overseas initiatives to reduce and alleviate grave humanitarian conditions that ultimately cause displacement. The article emphasizes that President Trump’s stated efforts to protect the American people by closing the country off from any foreign perceivable “threat” is ironically undermining the country’s foremost values of legal equality and justice.

Link to full article: Refugee International

Article Title: Unaccompanied Children at the United States Border, a Human Rights Crisis that can be Addressed with Policy Change

Summary: Unaccompanied children, the majority of them between ages 13 to 17, attempt to cross the Mexican-United States border every year with increasing numbers. Most of these minors travel up to the border from the “Northern Triangle” of Central America: Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. These countries contain widespread government and political corruption, as well as organized crime, which escalate violence in the public sphere and hence, drive children out of their homelands. When unaccompanied children do enter the United States without proper documentation, they are subject to a four-step process that either accept or expel them to their origin countries. First, they are apprehended by U.S Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Second, CBP agents conduct screening via interviews on the children to determine their eligibility of obtaining immigrant status. Third, they are held in the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) facilities. If they are found to be ineligible, they are sent back in a process called “voluntary return.” Finally, the unaccompanied children are adjudicated for their immigration status through legal processes according to the Immigration and Nationality Act. Along with this four-step process, these children are often mistreated because of the lack of training for handling foreign minors for law enforcement officers. This paper proposes that the mistreatment of unaccompanied children be framed as a human rights violation by referring to specific articles within the United Nations Conventions on the Rights of the Child. Policy changes that improve screening, adjudication, and training procedures through comprehensive immigration reform will remedy these human rights violations happening just along the American border.

Link to full article: Springer Link

Article Title: The Costs of Secondary Migration: Perspectives from Local Voluntary Agencies in the USA

Summary: Secondary migration is the phenomenon of migrants and/or refugees initially dispersed across the host country relocating to other locations. In the United States, migrants have been observed to relocate and congregate in ethnic enclaves, rather than to evenly disperse across the states. The paper’s research method of open-ended interviews with individual caseworkers and administrators attempts to fill in the lack of knowledge on the effects of secondary migration on voluntary agencies like pro bono law firms, as well as on the refugees themselves. Interviews were made possible by contacting each state’s refugee coordinator. Through various interviews, this paper has gained a general insight that secondary migration is perceived by service providers as a threat to refugees because of its ambiguous and unpredictable impact of these individuals. Since the United States’ refugee assistance resources are “front-loaded” towards primary migration, refugee relocation servicesdo not receive as much assistance. Research conducted through these interviews produces an obvious question: does the government intend on the initial resettlement location to be the refugees’ permanent home or does it intend for that location to be a “launch pad” to more suitable locations? Without this clarification, American refugee resettlement programs will continue to be inefficient in securely resettling these vulnerable people.

Link to full article: Springer Link

Article Title: Neither Here nor There: The Bisexual Struggle for American Asylum

Summary: The United States has historically been a challenging country for those part of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning, and Intersex (LGBTQI) community to gain asylum. As LGBTQI refugees are allowed into America for identifying with “a particular social group,” they are burdened with the responsibility to prove that they are “gay enough.” Even with the leeway given by UNHCR’s qualifications for asylum seeking in favor of “particular social groups,” the US appellate legal system and inherent biases against unusual identities within the system undermine the legal capacities of these individuals. Processes that “streamlined” the number of judges by cutting out pro-migrant officials especially made it difficult for refugees in general. The lack of awareness in training for processing specific “particular groups,” such as the LGBTQI community, also increases the chances of personal biases hindering these refugees’ entry into the United States. In addition, the American immigration legal system uses a “black-and-white” approach in processing asylum seekers, which does not serve non-heterosexual individuals very well, since their sexual identities are very fluid and sometimes non-behavioral. The US government can remedy this quandary by passing legislation for more comprehensive training for refugee officers as well as use Supreme Court precedents/rulings to redefine what an “immutable” trait of a “particular social group” can be.

Link to full article: Hein Online

Article Title: Refugee Policy as Foreign Policy: Iraqi and Afghan Refugee Resettlements to the United States

Summary: From 2001 to 2016, the United States admitted four times more refugees from Iraq than Afghanistan, which contradicts US perception of Iraqis as more of a security concern than Afghans. The more commonplace lenses of analysis to explain refugee policy, humanitarianism, international law, and national security prove insufficient to explain this contradictory pattern of refugee admittances. Thus, the authors argue that  refugee policy should also be analyzed through a fourth lens; that of foreign policy, more specifically through a framework they call “politics of neighbors”, to conceptualize that it is not American relationships with refugee-producing countries, but rather their neighbours – the refugee-receiving countries – that determines how the US prioritizes refugee resettlement.”

In the case of Afghan refugees, two main points of analysis through the politics of neighbors framework explains why the US did not admit as many Afghan refugees: the intra-regional politics between Pakistan and Iran and the economic/ethnic connections that could support displacements within the region. In the case of Iraqi refugees, three main points of analysis through politics of neighbors explains the US preference for Iraqi refugees: the American sense of guilt and responsibility for causing the displacement of Iraqis, the unwillingness of Jordan and Syria to accept refugees, and US strategic interest to relieve Jordan, its key ally, of its refugee resettlement responsibilities.

Link to full article: Oxford Academic

Article Title: Particular Social Groups: Vague Definitions and an Indeterminate Future for Asylum Seekers

Summary: The challenge of admitting or denying refugees into the United States begins with the seemingly simple task of determining the eligibility of an asylum seeker. According to United Nations and the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), an individual is eligible to apply for asylum if they are part of a certain “race, religion, nationality, particular social group, or political opinion.” For countries with extensive asylum policies, the term “particular social group” has proven to be the most challenging to legally define. In 2014, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) consolidated a three-part assessment to test the asylum eligibility of an individual, consisting of immutability, particularity, and social visibility. Such broad and arbitrary definition of “a particular social group” from BIA did not provide a predictable qualification process for vulnerable groups like political refugees and former member of gangs trying to escape their past lives. Considering the current legal definitions from the American government, some experts suggest adapting the Canadian Supreme Court’s definition of “particular social group,” which better serve refugees by taking more into account the situations of the refugees in their origin countries.

Link to full article: Brooklyn Law Review

Article Title: ‘It really is about telling people who asylum seekers really are, because we are human like anybody else’: Negotiating victimhood in refugee advocacy work

Summary: There exists a binary discourse regarding refugees–those who are hostile and those who are sympathetic. Refugee advocacy groups and refugees themselves attempt to push the sympathetic side of the conversation by framing their situations as “victims.” However, categorizing refugees as “victims” may have dehumanizing effects of the existing paternalistic relationship between the aid givers and the refugees/migrants. Advocacy organizations must not “leach out” the identities of refugees too much as “victims” because too much sympathy from the public may also cause social exclusion. In addition, framing refugees as “victims” by emphasizing their innocent and exploited backgrounds may deprive of their own abilities to tell their stories. Instead, “showing the normalcy of migrants’ everyday lives may provide a basis for greater social solidarity.”

Link to full article: Sage Journals

Article Title: When One Door Closes, Another Opens: Community Colleges as Gateways to Higher Education for Refugee Students

Summary: Geographic displacement, lack of national educational systems, and traumatic experiences are all factors that prevent refugee youth from pursuing higher education. This study finds that U.S. community colleges are well-suited to receive and educate refugees with discontinuous school records because of their high acceptance rates, low costs, flexibility in leveraging online courses, and small-sized classrooms for more personal interactions with instructors and peers. Therefore, the government should invest in community colleges in order to provide education to young and adult refugees.

Link to full article (additional access required for full text): Research Gate publications

Article Title: California Goes Rogue

Summary: This article from National Review discusses the debate between federal and state jurisdiction that is now present in the immigration discourse. U.S Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) consistently involves itself in cities that claim to be refugees for undocumented immigrants. The drastic shift from the liberal Obama administration with more lax immigration policies to the more conservative Trump Administration has created a divide within the nation. Most notably, California, with its Senate Bill 54, attempted to make the entire state a sanctuary for undocumented immigrants, which drew hostility from both federal and local conservative factions like ICE and parents whose children were killed by illegal aliens.

Link to full article: National Review

Article Title: Migrant Workers and Their Occupational Health and Safety

Summary: Global economic disparity and the search for work drive people from the Global South to areas in the Global North, like Europe, United States, and Canada. However, most of these migrant workers risk their occupational health and security because they are only able to secure “3-D jobs;” dirty, dangerous, and demanding, often exposing them to hazards like chemical exposure and the risk of trafficking. Improved safety training and better conditions, enhanced cooperation between host and migrants’ origin countries, and fair recruitment processes are some policy remedies to alleviate health concerns for these marginalized individuals.

Link to full article: Annual Reviews

Article Title: News framing of the U.S. immigration debate during election years: Focus on generic terms

Summary: Due to the bipartisan nature of the U.S. political system, conversations about immigration policies during elections years tend to be divided. News outlets with their respective political views frame the immigration topic in different ways, and framing is a media technique that “symbolically work to meaningfully structure the social world” by presenting an objective piece of information through various lenses. Empirical research shows that immigrants were most often framed in terms of conflicts, and characterized as illegal and/or criminal. The evidence provided seems to bolster the general belief that immigrants are excessively portrayed through the lens of conflict and illicit activities.

Link to full article (additional access required for full text): Taylor Francis Online