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Centre of Migration Research

Karolina Łukasiewicz, Tanzilya Oren, Saumya Tripathi. 2021.

Local welfare system response to refugees: between innovations, efficiency, and creating unequal opportunities


Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies | pages: 1-21


Migration scholars frequently view cities as innovative and efficient in responding to their immigrant communities’ needs. At the same time, the risks of the decentralisation of integration policies and how they operate on the ground remain overlooked. This study critically analyses the structure of demand and supply of immigrant integration policies in a local context, by offering a theoretical framework of a local welfare system (LWS) response to immigration. The study uses a case of refugee integration policies in New York City and is based on qualitative data collected between 2016 and 2018 from local LWS and refugees’ representatives. The data were analysed using the grounded theory approach. The study results reveal that a combination of policy decentralisation, underfunding, and ‘coordination challenge’ – contribute to a ‘lottery effect’ of unequal opportunities for refugees, instead of best addressing the local needs.


Immigrant integration policies, local turn, the local welfare system, NYC, refugees

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