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 paper on return migration is the first in a series from the Scalabrini Migration Study Centers, a worldwide network of think-tanks on international migration, on different migration issues and policy ideas that should inform the development and implementation of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration. This paper is authored by Graziano Batistella, c.s., who directs the Scalabrini Migration Center in the Philippines. It offers a conceptual framework for analyzing return migration and developing appropriate policies in response. It identifies a continuum of types of return based on the time of return and the decision to return. These are: “return of achievement,” “return of completion,” “return of setback,” and “return of crisis (forced return).” The paper recommends particular policies – which would benefit migrants and their communities of origin – in response to each of these types of return. It urges that the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration and the Global Compact for Refugees not treat return as “an act that simply concludes migration,” but one that requires effective policies to protect and ensure the well-being of migrants, to facilitate their reintegration, and to maximize their contributions.