Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis




College of Arts and Sciences

First Advisor

Caroline Nagel


This thesis explores mobility and service access of refugees who have been resettled in a non-traditional smaller-city immigrant destination of Columbia, South Carolina. I show that delivery of basic refugee social services varies based on support from individual states while federal expectations for refugees to reach economic selfsufficiency are applied equally across the US. I argue that mobility is a major challenge in obtaining these goals, further exacerbated in the context of a smaller resettlement site. Although redistribution to smaller metropolitan areas may provide refugees safer and more affordable housing, less spatial distance to traverse (Mott, 2010), they often lack access to services and resources such as public transportation, English language services, low-wage job markets, and similar ethnic communities compared to those in larger metropolitan areas (Singer & Wilson, 2006; Bose, 2014). Through participant observation and semi-structured interviews with refugees and service providers, I aim to answer how these federal policies play out at the scale of the local, and the degree to which refugees are able to satisfy neoliberal federal directives. This research has the potential to contribute to scholarship on refugee resettlement in the US and practitioner literature.

Included in

Geography Commons