Degree Name

MA in Sustainable Development

First Advisor

Nikoi Kote-Nikoi


This ethnographic research contributes to our knowledge of how refugee resettlement organizations, faith-based or otherwise, assist the U.S. Government in the process of resettling refugees across the United States. Specifically, this is a critical ethnographic study of Interfaith Refugee Ministry (IRM)/Integrated Refugee & Immigration Services (IRIS), a faith-based organization that has worked over twenty-six years to sponsor refugees in New Haven, Connecticut. The findings of the study suggest that IRIS’s search for financial autonomy, lessening their dependency on voluntary resettlement agencies (volags), has negatively affected the way resettlement is implemented. Relying on participant observation, the study uncovers how IRM/IRIS puts its own organizational and bureaucratic needs before that of its immigrant clients. The emergence of this higher bureaucratic purpose is analyzed in light of resource dependence theory, a school of thought in organizational behavior. This research uses qualitative research methods that are primarily based on document analysis and a twelve-month participant observation of the agency during the researcher’s internship at the IRM/IRIS. The two main research questions this paper explores are: With what motives, for what reasons, and in what manner did IRM change to IRIS and broaden its mission beyond physical resettlement of refugees? What are the implications for refugees and other immigrants when IRIS no longer is wholly devoted to physical resettlement and the most daunting needs of its clients?


Other Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration | Social and Cultural Anthropology