Host Communities’ Perceptions of Refugees in North Dakota and Perceived Impacts of Refugees on North Dakota Communities
Arseculeratne, Kurukulasuriya Mary Tania Fernando
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This study identifies host communities’ perceptions of refugees and perceived impacts of refugees on North Dakota communities by analyzing a 2015 petition against future refugee resettlement using Braun and Clarke’s guide to thematic analysis. I identify two host community perceptions of refugees: refugees as “other,” and refugees as a potential threat to the security of individuals, the community, and the nation. I also identify three perceived impacts of refugees: privation of American citizens, and the beliefs that refugees exert pressure on public services, and refugees are ruining the American way of life. Using Intergroup Threat Theory to interpret the perceptions and perceived impacts of refugees reveals that realistic threat posed by refugees is more significant to petitioners compared to symbolic threat. In other words, petitioners seem to consider refugees as a greater threat to their economic power, well-being, and tangible resources than to their values, beliefs, and worldviews.