Impact of Immigration Policies on Syrian Refugees’ Integration in Canada, Germany, Turkey, and the United States

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 17:30
Oral Presentation
Aysegul BALTA OZGEN, University at Buffalo, SUNY, USA
This research compares the integration experiences of recent Syrian refugees who have been displaced since 2011 in four countries: Canada, Germany, Turkey, and the United States. I ask: How are possibilities of integration shaped within different policy contexts? Why do refugees in one host country perceive a better future for themselves than refugees in another host country? Among Syrian refugees, what are their experiences and perceptions of integration in Canada, Germany, Turkey, and the United States? How do representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and resettlement agencies in these countries understand and explain the impact of national policies on Syrian refugees’ integration? The primary method of data collection in this qualitative project is in-depth interviews with Syrian refugees and other key informants such as representatives of the NGOs who work with refugees. At least twenty interviews with refugees per country are conducted, and key informant interviews are conducted as needed. One city in each country serves as the primary source for sample respondents: Toronto, Canada; Buffalo, New York; Istanbul, Turkey; and Berlin, Germany. A purposive snowball sampling method is used to recruit respondents. Findings suggest four common themes: (1) a sense of temporariness related to refugees’ legal rights, (2) a loss of economic capital, (3) cultural change, and (4) a sense of being unwelcome. When refugees think that their future in one place is uncertain, when they perceive a loss of economic and cultural status, and when they feel negative public attitude toward themselves, then their perceived prospects of integration seem worse. As contribution, examining this topic with an international comparative study design allows for the development of a typology of different countries’ reactions to refugees, as well as similarities and differences in the mechanisms of integration. This research aims to find out what works best in different countries, and why.