Integrating African Refugees in the American Midwest in Changing Times

Authors: Abel Chikanda*, University of Kansas
Topics: Africa, Immigration/Transnationalism, Social Geography
Keywords: Refugees, integration, Africa, immigration
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/7/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Empire Room, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The American Midwest has become an important site for examining the intersection between political and refugee settlement policy in the United States. Somalia is one of the leading source countries for African refugees in the United States. While a large number of Somali-born refugees in the US live in Minnesota, recent evidence suggests that a large number of them are moving to smaller cities such as the meatpacking town of Garden City in Kansas. At the same time, intolerance towards immigrants and refugees has been rising across the US, often manifesting itself through increased incidences of racism, discrimination and violence. For instance, a group of three men recently convicted of plotting to bomb a mosque and apartment complex in southwest Kansas asked a federal judge to consider a more lenient sentence, arguing that President Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric should be taken into account as the “backdrop” for the case. Drawing on interviews with organizations that provide services to refugees in Garden City (KS) and Minneapolis (MN), the paper examines the state of African refugee integration in the United States paying particular attention to the barriers that have been created by the current climate to effectively resettle refugees in the Midwest.

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