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What now? New refugee destinations in a program under threat

Authors: Pablo Bose*, University of Vermont
Topics: Urban Geography, Immigration/Transnationalism, Ethnic Geography
Keywords: Refugees, urban, xenophobia, immigration
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

The US Refugee Admissions Program has for the past three years come under existential threat. While the program has for decades enjoyed bipartisan political support and over the last decade brought roughly 75,000 refugees a year to the US, it has since 2016 been caught up in the xenophobic and anti-immigrant rhetoric and policy shifts of the current US administration. At the federal level this has meant massive cuts to the scale and scope of those provided protection and resettlement to the US. At the local level this has also meant major changes for the cities and towns where refugees have been placed. In recent years the trend has been towards resettlement outside of the traditional major metropolitan areas. For smaller cities and towns across the US, what does this change in refugee acceptance policy mean? I draw in this paper on a decade’s worth of research in such communities and discuss the anxieties, challenges and perspectives of local politicians, community organizations, and residents facing a myriad of issues – an aging population, youth outmigration, and deindustrialization among them – challenges that refugee resettlement provided one set of solutions for. I focus in particular on what the consequences might be for small cities that have developed systems and services geared towards welcoming newcomers to no longer have refugees arrive.

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