April 6 2023: RRN Research Digest

The RRN Research Digest provides a synopsis of recent research on refugee and forced migration issues from entities associated with the RRN and others.

You can download the digest in PDF format here: RRN Research Digest No. 135


Elcioglu, E. F., & Shams, T. (2023). Brokering immigrant transnationalism: Remittances, family reunification, and private refugee sponsorship in neoliberal Canada. Current Sociology. Using the case study of Canada’s private refugee sponsorship program, the authors show how neoliberalization heightens the power of non-immigrant civilians to broker immigrants’ transnationalism. Private sponsors respond differently to two common and interrelated forms of refugee transnationalism in which they are structurally empowered to intervene. They encourage family reunification while discouraging remittances, although the former often depends on the fulfillment of the latter. The authors conclude by encouraging scholars of transnationalism to look down and investigate how non-immigrant private civilians in receiving countries increasingly shape newcomers’ cross-border linkages and to look up and attend to the broader neoliberal context empowering and structuring the behaviour of citizen brokers.

Alrababah, A., Masterson, D., Casalis, M., Hangartner, D., & Weinstein, J. (2023). The Dynamics of Refugee Return: Syrian Refugees and Their Migration Intentions. British Journal of Political Science. Using observational and experimental data from a survey of 3,003 Syrian refugees in Lebanon, the authors study the drivers of refugees’ decision-making about returning home. They find that the conditions in refugee-hosting countries play a minor role. In contrast, conditions in a refugee’s home country are the main drivers of return intentions. The results challenge traditional models of decision-making about migration, where refugees weigh living conditions in the host and home countries (“push” and “pull” factors). The article offers an alternative theoretical framework: a model of threshold-based decision-making whereby only once a basic threshold of safety at home is met do refugees compare other factors in the host and home country.

Soehl, T., & Van Haren, I. (2023). The effect of social capital on migrant labor market success: evidence from refugee sponsorship in Canada, Ethnic and Racial Studies, 1-25. This paper examines the effect of connections that reach beyond the co-ethnic community. Studying the effects of such ties is challenging as they are generally both a cause and consequence of integration. The authors examine a case where a set of migrants is provided ties that reach outside the co-ethnic community upon arrival in Canada through a refugee sponsor program where community groups support refugees with no pre-existing ties. Although sponsorship has no effect on the probability of employment, the authors find that it improves skill utilization. Refugees with sponsors are more likely to obtain higher-skilled employment and less likely to be self-employed. The article also presents data on the characteristics of friendship networks to support our argument. To access as open access (first 50 clicks), click here.

Galli, C. (2023). Precarious Protections: Unaccompanied Minors Seeking Asylum in the United States. University of California Press. A meticulously researched ethnography, Precarious Protections chronicles the experiences and perspectives of Central American unaccompanied minors and their immigration attorneys as they pursue applications for refugee status in the US asylum process. Chiara Galli debunks assumptions about asylum, including the idea that people are being denied protection because they file bogus claims. In practice, the United States interprets asylum law far more narrowly than necessary to recognize real-world experiences of escape from life-threatening violence. This is especially true for children from Central America. Galli reveals the formidable challenges of lawyering with children and exposes the human toll of the US immigration bureaucracy.

O’Mahony, J., Kassam, S., Clark, N., & Asbjoern, T. (2023). Use of participatory action research to support Syrian refugee mothers in the resettlement period in Canada: A longitudinal study. Plos one, 18(2). Social factors that support the successful settlement of Syrian refugees in Canada have yet to be explored systematically. This study examines these factors from the perspectives of Syrian refugee mothers living in British Columbia (BC). Framed by principles of intersectionality and community-based participatory action research (PAR), the study draws on Syrian mothers’ perspectives of social support in early, middle, and later resettlement phases. Data obtained in this study contribute to developing support services that are culturally appropriate and accessible to refugee women living in BC. This work aims to promote mental health, improve quality of life, and enable timely access to healthcare services and resources for this population.

Ferreira, N. (2023). Utterly unbelievable: The discourse of ‘fake’SOGI asylum claims as a form of epistemic injustice. International Journal of Refugee Law. Media and political debates on refugees and migration are dominated by a discourse of  ‘fake’ and ‘bogus’ asylum claims. This article explores how this discourse affects in acute ways those people claiming asylum based on sexual orientation or gender identity (SOGI). In particular, the article shows how such a discourse of ‘fakeness’ goes far beyond the well-documented and often inadequate credibility assessments carried out by asylum authorities. The article concludes with the impossibility of determining the ‘truth’ in SOGI asylum cases, while also offering some guidance on means that can be employed to alleviate the epistemic injustice produced by the asylum system against SOGI asylum claimants and refugees.


ICMPD (2023) Discussion paper – Responding to displacement from Ukraine: Past, present, and future policies. As of yet, there is no systematic answer on how to move on from temporary protection. This discussion paper on past, present and future options summarises key policy reactions by states and various published scenarios for the war. It then explores different policy options available to states once temporary protection and similar schemes come to an end, to initiate discussions on ways forward.

Report of the Immigration Advisory Council 2023, Manitoba Immigration Advisory Council, February 14, 2023. This report represents a collection of inputs from every corner of the province on immigration programs and policy. It is a call to action to advance Manitoba’s economic prosperity and continue our legacy as a leader in immigration. The recommendations within the report support Manitoba’s Skills, Talent and Knowledge Strategy. By examining ways to improve the entire process of immigration to Manitoba, the province will increase the number of workers with the right skills, talent and knowledge to enjoy a high quality of life and grow the provincial economy.

Pauline Endres de Oliveira & Nikolas Feith Tan, External Processing: A Tool to Expand Protection or Further Restrict Territorial Asylum?, Migration Policy Institute, February 2023. This report highlights the opportunities that external processing offers, the challenges to its implementation, and the risks it could pose to territorial asylum. It explores three categories of external processing policies implemented or proposed to date: humanitarian visas, emergency evacuations, and external processing centers. The report also identifies key conditions that must be present for external processing to occur in a protection-sensitive manner.


Katsiaficas, C., Segeš Frelak, J. and Castelanelli, C. (2023). Displacement, integration, and return: What remote work possibilities for Ukrainians?, ICMPD. One year after the Russian invasion, much uncertainty remains. Remote work can provide a degree of flexibility for some refugees from Ukraine, supporting integration in the short term and reconstruction in the long term. Supporting Ukrainian teleworkers is a smart move. 

Katsiaficas, C., Segeš Frelak, J. and Wagner, M. (2023). The clock is ticking for temporary protection: What comes next? ICMPD. In March 2025, at the latest, temporary protection for people fleeing Ukraine ends. Determining what comes next is a complex process in which host countries must navigate multiple policy options, practical considerations, and political and economic interests. There is no time to waste in developing a coordinated approach, particularly due to the large number of people concerned, the range of countries involved, and the prospect of necessary legislative changes.

Fearmongering about people fleeing disasters is a dangerous and faulty narrative,  by Yvonne Su and Cory Robinson, The Conversation, March 12, 2023. The international community mobilized to offer humanitarian assistance in the aftermath of the earthquakes. These developments come at a time when climate and disaster-induced displacement is ascends on the global policy agenda. With climate change predicted to increase the frequency and intensity of disasters, there is mounting concern about how future displacement and migration will be addressed.

Why are some refugees more welcome in Canada than others? By Kandice Pardy, Policy Options, February 27, 2023. Afghan refugees still face delays in their attempts to come to Canada. Yet, Ukrainians have seen red tape cut and doors open. Why the difference?

Will asylum-seekers and refugees in Rwanda be mistreated? What we can learn from Rwandan law, policy, and practice today, by Cristiano D’Orsi, African Law Matters, March 8, 2023. Recently, the United Kingdom (UK) has chosen to send certain asylum-seekers to Rwanda, creating the impression that they are unwelcome in its territory. A lot has been written on this topic, particularly focusing on the UK’s position and its possible violations of Refugee Law, Human Rights Law, and Anti-Trafficking Law.

Also on our radar:

Digital resources and social media

The RELATE Manual, Refugee Law Teaching Support Initiative. The RELATE manual is a free model syllabus that guides junior educators to prepare and launch their first refugee law and international protection teaching activities. It includes relevant, freely available international legal and soft law instruments, international and domestic jurisprudence, training manuals, reports, articles, and audiovisual resources.

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