Volume 34
Issue 3
Spring '20

Cultivating Civic Belonging for Resettled Refugees

Written By: Megan J. Ballard

Abstract

Public debates in the United States over immigration continue to rage. Inflamed political rhetoric has returned to the historical trope of maligning the morals, motives, race, and ethnicity of migrants seeking admission. Repeating familiar patterns, policy makers emboldened by anti-immigrant vitriol work to block immigration. Such efforts are directed through the regular channels of policy, regulations, and legislation, as well as through irregular means involving human rights violations in the name of deterrence. Efforts to diminish immigration appear to be succeeding. The Department of Homeland Security reported a thirteen percent decrease in the number of newly arrived lawful permanent immigrants during fiscal year 2019, as compared to 2018.

At the same time, many scholars and economists suggest that increasing the number of immigrants in the United States could bolster the economy. In February 2020, even the then-Acting White House Chief of Staff said the country needed more immigrants, reporting that: “We are running out of people to fuel the economic growth. A disproportionate share of America’s entrepreneurs and inventors are immigrants. This is true even for refugees who arrive in the United States with little to nothing. Moreover, poor immigrant families have greater success in working themselves out of poverty than do native-born families. This means that immigrants are contributing to the economy as taxpayers and consumers.

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