Making it New York City. Social policies and labor market integration of skilled refugees.

Authors: Tanzilya Oren*, Fordham University, Karolina Lukasiewicz*, New York University
Topics: Migration, Urban Geography, Social Geography
Keywords: urban refugees, skilled refugees, integration, labor market, social policies
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Galvez, , Marriott, 5th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Despite the increased public interest in the situation of refugees, little is known about how various federal and local level policies affect integration of refugees, and more specifically, persons having higher education level. Refugees are eligible to participate in federally funded programs which aim “to achieve economic self-sufficiency as quickly as possible after arrival in the United States” (The Refugee Act of 1980). What is known is that although the median employment rate among refugees is higher than among the native population, the self-sufficiency paradigm itself is criticized for forcing refugees to take entry level jobs without offering time to improve their English language skills and increase long term opportunities. Regardless of that criticism, during the current administration the federal funded programs became jeopardized leaving even fewer opportunities for skilled refugees. Using the case of the New York City area, this presentation aims to explore how federally funded programs and other forms of assistance delivered by non-profit organizations affect labor market integration of skilled refugees in the context of the current administration. The presentation is based on in-depth interviews with refugees and case workers implementing programs assisting refugees in the NYC area. The presentation also draws from participant observations in non-profit organizations assisting refugees. Refugees were sampled based on their education, legal status, income, residing in the NYC area and receiving assistance. Interviews were audio recorded, transcribed verbatim, and Dedoose software was used for data analysis. Thematic analysis using inductive approach was next utilized.

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