U.S. Resettlement Policies and Their Impact on Refugee Wellbeing: Service Providers’ Response in New York City

Pinar Zubaroglu-Ioannides, Fordham University


The number of people who are forcibly displaced from their communities is at its highest level at 68.5 million individuals, and, of these, over 25 million are refugees. The process of forced migration with its elements of stress and uncertainty, as well as the adaptation to a new environment creates a heightened sense of security and fear for refugees. Although studies have examined different aspects of the life of refugees, there are no studies providing a comprehensive analysis of the determinants of refugee wellbeing in the United States, either in relation to the resettlement process or to integration. The multilevel governance system in the United States complicates assessing the determinants of refugee wellbeing under the influence of multilevel policies. Nevertheless, examining the effect of refugees’ access to the federal, state and organizational policies and programs on refugee wellbeing is crucial to assessing the efficient use of financial resources and the impact on refugees’ human rights. This dissertation aims to contribute a comprehensive analysis of the wellbeing of refugees resettled in the NYC by examining the impact of organizational, city, state and federal welfare policies on refugees, in general, and on women, in particular, from the perspective of service providers working in state and local government, and non-for-profit organizations. The study used a purposive and convenience sample of 12 semi-structured interviews. The findings of this research suggest that current U.S. immigration and refugee resettlement policies follow the ideologies of 1601 Elizabethan Poor Laws and the securitization theory framework. The U.S. refugee resettlement policy and programs prioritize refugee self-sufficiency over several areas of refugee wellbeing. There are certain areas of wellbeing (like shelter, environment, and mental health) not addressed by any of the existing policies and services. Gender does not seem to have a significant impact on practice from the perspective of service providers. Yet, most of the agencies in this study do not disaggregate their data, neither do they structure their programs or services by gender. Therefore, to get a complete understanding of refugee wellbeing, particularly women refugees’ wellbeing, future research needs to engage refugees and asylum seekers and use their narratives to change the current policy discourse.

Subject Area

Social work|Political science

Recommended Citation

Zubaroglu-Ioannides, Pinar, "U.S. Resettlement Policies and Their Impact on Refugee Wellbeing: Service Providers’ Response in New York City" (2019). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI13886077.