In this interview, Donald Kerwin, executive director of the Center for Migration Studies, provides an update on the conditions facing refugees and forcibly displaced persons throughout the world. He also shares findings from the recent CMS and Refugee Council USA report on refugee resettlement and he reflects on the connection between refugees, the Christmas story, and Catholic Social Teaching.
This report analyzes the US refugee resettlement program – known as “USRAP” (the US Refugee Admissions Program) – leveraging data from a national survey of resettlement stakeholders conducted in 2020. The survey examined USRAP from the time that refugees arrive in the United States. The survey’s design and questionnaire were informed by three community gatherings organized by Refugee Council USA in the fall and winter of 2019, extensive input from an expert advisory group, and a literature review.
This report finds that USRAP serves important purposes, enjoys extensive community support, and offers a variety of effective services. Overall, the survey finds a high degree of consensus on the US resettlement program’s strengths and objectives, and close alignment between its services and the needs of refugees at different stages of their settlement and integration. Because USRAP’s infrastructure and community-based resettlement networks have been decimated in recent years, the Biden administration’s main challenges will be to rebuild and revitalize the program, educate the public on it, and try to regain broad, bi-partisan support for it. The report also points to specific ways in which USRAP’s programs and services should be strengthened....
This paper examines the integration, achievements and contributions of 1.1 million refugees resettled in the United States from 1987 to 2016. It does so in three ways. First, it compares the household, demographic, and economic characteristics of refugees that arrived between 1987 and 2016, to comparable data for non-refugees, the foreign-born, and the total US population. Second, it compares the characteristics of refugees by period of entry, as well as to the foreign-born and total US population. Third, it examines the characteristics of refugees that arrived from the former Soviet Union between 1987 and 1999, measured in 2000 and again in 2016. By all three measures, it finds that refugees successfully integrate over time and contribute immensely to their new communities. Perhaps most dramatically, the paper shows that refugees that arrived between 1987 and 1996 exceed the total US population, which consists mostly of native-born citizens, in personal income, homeownership, college education, labor force participation, self-employment, health insurance coverage, and access to a computer and the internet. The paper also explores the successful public/private partnerships — with a particular focus on Catholic agencies — that facilitate refugee well-being and integration, and that leverage substantial private support for refugees. Overall, the paper argues that the United States should expand and strengthen its refugee resettlement program. The program has advanced US standing in the world, saved countless lives, and put millions on a path to work, self-sufficiency, and integration....
This panel examined trends in international migration and migration-related policies in the context of pandemics of disease, racism, and violence. It examined the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and related policies on migrants and refugees, drawing on a growing body of research on how pandemics affect marginalized communities. The intersection of the health pandemic and the pandemics of racism and violence also disproportionately affect persons of color, including migrants and refugees. This panel lifted up promising international, national, and local approaches to the immense challenges facing immigrants, refugees, and their communities of origin and destination. Panelists also discussed the role of immigrants and refugees in economic and social recovery.
Donald G. Herzberg Professor Emeritus School of Foreign Service
Former Assistant Secretary
Population, Refugees and Migration
U.S. State Department
US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
Office of Refugee Resettlement
Professor of the Practice and Director
Center for Humanitarian Health
Johns Hopkins University
Former Research Director
Center for Migration Studies
UN Population Division
University of California, Davis