“And Slowly, the Integration and the Growing and the Learning”: Nuanced Notions of Integration of Bhutanese Refugees in US Citiesedit
Policy related to refugee integration focuses on economic factors, while integration is not clearly operationalized nor is it being systematically measured and tracked in policy implementation. This study poses the question, how can local-level integration be conceptualized based on the perspectives of resettled refugees, to add nuance to policy. Using a case study approach with a nation-wide scale, data include 40 interviews and five focus groups with leaders of Bhutanese refugee-run organizations in 35 cities across the United States. Findings illustrate the importance of bonds, bridges and links in non-linear, relational integration. Findings also suggest that better access to services and resources is the responsibility of policy-makers and would lead to stronger bridges over time. This complicates existing policy and implies that resettlement programming should remain individualized and contextual from the ground level to the national level.