LOCAL HOST CITY IMPLEMENTATION OF NATIONAL REFUGEE POLICY: A COMPARATIVE CASE STUDY
Cregg, Emma Kathleen
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As an act of international cooperation, states participating in the UNHCR Refugee Resettlement Programme share the host nation responsibility of welcoming permanently resettled refugees into their own country but remain largely autonomous when shaping corresponding national policy. While national policy regulates and finances each host nation’s refugee integration process, the responsibilities of practical policy interpretation largely fall on local host communities, whose leaders must creatively face the challenge of implementing national refugee policy to fit their community’s unique structures and resettlement resources (or lack thereof) to ultimately facilitate local integration. This study explores the challenges local administrators in the United States and United Kingdom face when translating and implementing national policy to facilitate local integration of refugees within their host community- a long-term process that does not lend itself to a simple definition or formula. Personal interviews with local administrators and community stakeholders in Knoxville, Tennessee and Sheffield, England provide a comparative case study of two active host communities operating under different national refugee policy and programs. Case study findings are presented within the framework of four “Domains for Local Proprietorship”- participation, vertical collaboration, resources, and horizontal cohesion to evaluate both cities’ level of local ownership in the local integration process. These findings confirm local administrators’ influential role in their host city’s implementation of national refugee policy and response to change by facilitating a community-wide culture of welcome and sense of goodwill. Although local administrators remain far-removed from the formation of national refugee policy, they are usually local citizens’ most accessible government representatives and therefore play a key role in helping their community make sense of policy changes and implementing local solutions.