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Keywords:

  • immigration;
  • refugees;
  • resettlement programs;
  • urban systems;
  • United States

This article targets the role of intermediaries, such as refugee resettlement programs, in altering the geography of the foreign-born. It argues that, under such intermediaries, destination choice within the United States is largely determined not by economic mechanisms but instead by information-related factors such as friction of distance, migration chains, labor procurement, and resettlement intermediaries. Metropolitan statistical area (MSA) destinations are grouped into four profiles based on their mix of foreign-born. The result is sets of MSAs differentiated by the era of immigration, immigrant origins, geographic pattern, and place characteristics that draw migrants. To evaluate intermediary impacts, monies allocated to states by the Office of Refugee Resettlement, refugee resettlement by state, and refugee movements to MSAs are expressed as a Refugee Resettlement Index and linked to MSA profiles. We conclude that although refugees constitute only a portion of total immigration, their effects are disproportionately large in terms of changing the foreign-born profiles of MSAs and other communities, changing the fabric of society, and changing the geography of the foreign-born in all its ramifications.