Center for Forced Migration Studies (CFMS)

Refugee Resettlement

The CFMS is building a leading research institution on refugee resettlement to contribute knowledge best practices, offer policy recommendations,  conduct forums, and disseminate reports that bring the potential economic benefits of resettlement into public discussion.

Current Projects

Long Term Refugee Resettlement in the United States: A Comparison of integration experiences for refugees, five and ten years post resettlement, in five resettlement communities

Researchers: Galya Ruffer; Jessica Darrow (CFMS Research Associate);  Zean Dunbar (Research Assistant)

The basic premise underlying the U.S. resettlement program is that refugees can benefit from institutional support as they integrate into their new communities and strive to reach economic self-sufficiency. Yet, there has been much debate about what successful integration means, how it is achieved, and how local institutions can support it. Integration does not have a fixed definition in the literature. Rather it is a term that has been conceptualized in different ways to describe both a process for the newly arrived, and a policy goal. Further, the literature on refugee integration is primarily focused on the short term, while studies of long-term refugee resettlement are virtually non-existent. We seek to contribute to the political debates around whether and how the refugee resettlement program should be expanded and enhanced, by explaining the integration experiences of refugees five and ten years post resettlement. The impact of this study will be to provide meaningful insight into the contributions these refugees have made to their local communities, the challenges they have faced and supports they have enjoyed along the way.

Past Forums

On December 3, 2015 Jerome McDonnell (WBEZ WorldView) moderated a panel discussion on "The US Refugee Resettlement Program: A Global Model for Successful Humanitarian Response?" The panel was hosted by the Center for Forced Migration Studies and the Buffett Institute for Global Studies at Northwestern University. Panelists include T. Alexander Aleinikoff, Robert Carey,  Ngoan Le, and Suzanne Akhras Sahloul.

 The evening panel was the culmination of a daylong forum bringing together United States based refugee resettlement policymakers, practitioners, state refugee coordinators, economists, researchers and thought leaders to contribute to the development of a collaborative research agenda and the prioritization of research and innovation in program design.