Refugee issues have been brought to the forefront of political and public debate in recent years. Although historically the U.S. has resettled more refugees than any other country, the refugee admission cap has dropped to the lowest since the enactment of the Refugee Act of 1980. The trend has been driven by the unfounded fear and scapegoating of refugees in national and local discourses. Often absent from this political conversation, however, are the experiences of these individuals who have resettled in the U.S. as a part of the Federal Refugee Resettlement Program. This obscures important questions about how refugee families adjust, integrate, and live in the communities in which they have been resettled. Refugee households face many challenges when integrating into new homes and communities, including challenges related to mobility, accessibility, and the availability of transportation options. Based on the PIs existing work in the refugee communities we propose to study, such challenges play a role in determining how refugees perceive whether they feel “home” or specifically whether they are content with their lives after their resettlement. For this study, we specifically focus on refugee communities who have resettled in the city of Tucson, Arizona. Arizona has welcomed many of refugees and has been one of the top refugee-receiving states in the nation. Tucson is currently home to at least 11,500 refugees representing 50 countries and speaking 45 languages (IRC).
While there has been a significant body of work on refugees’ perception of their life satisfaction with their lives after resettlement (i.e. social connection, housing, employment, education and health) the role of mobility remains understudied. This project aims to fill this gap and contribute to the understanding of the role of mobility as a factor in refugees’ satisfaction with their resettlement. This study will be built upon previous grants “Beyond Fear: Voices of Refugees in Tucson and “Dismantling Fear: Voices from Tucson’s Refugee Community’’ both funded by the Confluencenter for Creative Inquiry in Tucson, Arizona. Through these grants, the PI has established a critical network of organizations involved in resettling refugees in Tucson. We will use the already-established connections to access information and to recruit participants in our project. The International Rescue Committee in Tucson will partner with us in this project.
The project team consists of interdisciplinary team from geography, urban planning, and public health. Drawing on each member’s strength we use mixed methods to achieve our research goals. The researchers will use a mixed methods approach to analyze factors of mobility in determining refugees’ mobility, transportation choices, and life-satisfaction. Our team will seek to expand on the PIs existing contacts and employ a survey of 150 refugees and 50 face-to-face interviews using the chain referral sampling method. In this method we will rely on referrals of participants to others who could potentially participate in and contribute to the project. We will use this method with the premise that peers are better suited in reaching out other interested individuals in their communities than the researchers (González, 2011; Hathaway, 2010; Abdul-Quader, 2006; Watters, 1989). Findings from interviews and surveys with refugees will be triangulated with quantitative data to better our understanding of the importance of mobility in refugee population and their perception of life-satisfaction and fulfillment.