E.g., 09/16/2014
E.g., 09/16/2014

Rediscovering Resettlement

Policy Briefs
December 2003

Rediscovering Resettlement

Refugee resettlement provides an alternative durable solution to local integration, return or repatriation whereby refugees who have fled persecution across a national border may be screened and selected for protection in their region of origin. Recognizing the particular challenges to refugee protection faced on both sides of the Atlantic, this report questions whether strengthening resettlement programs in the U.S. and Europe can help to address ongoing concerns over security, the volume and diversity of migrants, the rise of right-wing parties and the role of the welfare state. In addition, the authors seek to understand the extent to which resettlement offers a solution to the challenges of refugee protection worldwide. 

The report provides insight into differences in transcontinental definitions, selection criteria, and the roles that government agencies and nongovernmental organizations play in the screening and integration of refugees. It also investigates important tensions in refugee resettlement including: the use and possible abuse of the welfare state versus a lack of economic support in the resettlement process; historical national identities in light of current needs for security; and humanitarian goals of protecting the most vulnerable balanced with the utilitarianism of accepting those for whom successful integration seems most likely.

The authors find that while resettlement is no cure-all for the perceived asylum crisis or smuggling, the process of inviting refugees to resettle in the U.S. and Europe may have a positive impact on public perceptions related to refugees and the government’s management of the humanitarian-based arrivals. In addition, they suggest that resettlement encourages a direct rapport and the exchange of accurate and important information between the destination state and refugee at the earliest opportunity.

Based on these findings, the authors recommend that European nations consider adding selection criteria beyond the refugee protection need and that refugees who do not face extraordinary challenges be accommodated through broader programs across the EU. The authors also recommend the U.S. to place greater emphasis on the protection needs of refugees and transition away from outdated caseloads and that registering refugees before the start of the resettlement program can provide a database of information and alleviate some concerns over security and fraud.