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Refugee Migration Histories in a Meatpacking Town: Blurring the Line Between Primary and Secondary Migration

Kyle Anne Nelson () and Christine Marston
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Kyle Anne Nelson: University of Northern Colorado
Christine Marston: University of Northern Colorado

Journal of International Migration and Integration, 2020, vol. 21, issue 1, No 5, 77-91

Abstract: Abstract There is substantial movement of US refugee populations originating from Africa, Asia, and other parts of the world across all parts of the country, beyond large metropolitan areas and traditional immigration hubs. Counter to expectations that refugees would remain in a given resettlement location for a period of integration and support, many non-resettlement communities have attracted newcomer refugees. The dynamics of early movement of refugees blurs the line between initial resettlement and secondary migration. To study the timing and motivations for refugee secondary migration, we conducted structured quantitative interviews with 92 refugees in Greeley, Colorado. Like many other small agricultural cities across the USA (Marston et al. International Journal of Migration and Residential Mobility, 1(3), 253–268, 2016; Broadway Rural Sociology, 72(4), 560–582, 2007), Greeley has experienced an influx of refugees due to a shift in the meatpacking labor market from immigrant to refugee labor. This study adds to prior research documenting refugee secondary migration (e.g., Marks 2014; Hume and Hardwick Geographical Review, 95(2), 189–209, 2005; Weine et al. Family Process, 50(1), 27–46, 2011) with a larger study sample focused on gathering uniform accounts of refugee migration histories. Our data show that many refugees arrived in Greeley very soon after initial resettlement. Employment and social networks were a draw for most interviewees to move to Greeley; however, many who came for work had not yet found employment or were unemployed after leaving jobs at the meatpacking plant. These and other findings suggest the importance of research on refugee mobility. In an ever-globalizing world, the blurred line between primary and secondary migration necessitates preparation among American communities to maximize refugee integration.

Keywords: Refugee resettlement; Secondary migration; Refugee integration (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1007/s12134-019-00694-9

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