EU and US asylum and immigration policies don’t work. According to the author of a Washington Post article, this is partly due to the fact that one of the most important groups affected by those policies – refugees – have not been consulted.
Margaret Peters, an associate professor at the University of California, together with two other researchers, interviewed 1400 refugees from Syria and Iraq about their needs, expectations, and preferences.
The research findings show that the vast majority of refugees hope to return home after the violence in their countries ends and to rebuild their lives. While in refuge, they want dignity, and to provide for themselves and their families without imposing or relying on others. Despite the widespread opinion that refugees go to a country because of social benefits, their research shows that the ability to find jobs is the single most influential decision-making factor for them. When asked what kind of assistance they need, feedback suggests that governments should focus on providing them with the skills they need for employment. Refugees are looking for language courses, job training, and education for their children.
Answering how these insights could inform policy making, the authors draw some very important conclusions:
- Most migrants want to return to their home countries when it is safe for them to go. As a result, temporary residence permits could be a solution that would enable them to work and get in touch with employers
- Finding employment would be beneficial on two levels: refugees would be able to provide for themselves and their families – becoming independent and productive members of society; and data shows that working enables integration as refugees get in touch with the local population, learn the language, make friends and get accustomed to the new culture and way of living.