Understanding connections between mobility, transportation, and quality of life in refugee communities in Tucson, Arizona

Refugee issues have been brought to the forefront of political and public debate in recent years. Although historically the U.S. has resettled more refugees than any other country, the refugee admission cap has dropped to the lowest since the enactment of the Refugee Act of 1980. The trend has been driven by the unfounded fear and scapegoating of refugees in national and local discourses. Often absent from this political conversation, however, are the experiences of these individuals who have resettled in the U.S. as a part of the Federal Refugee Resettlement Program. This obscures important questions about how refugee families adjust, integrate, and live in the communities in which they have been resettled. Refugee households face many challenges when integrating into new homes and communities, including challenges related to mobility, accessibility, and the availability of transportation options. Based on the PIs existing work in the refugee communities the research team proposes to study, such challenges play a role in determining how refugees perceive whether they feel “home” or specifically whether they are content with their lives after their resettlement. For this study, the team specifically focuses on refugee communities who have resettled in the city of Tucson, Arizona. Arizona has welcomed many of refugees and has been one of the top refugee-receiving states in the nation. Tucson is currently home to at least 11,500 refugees representing 50 countries and speaking 45 languages (IRC). While there has been a significant body of work on refugees’ perception of their life satisfaction with their lives after resettlement (i.e. social connection, housing, employment, education and health) the role of mobility remains understudied. This project aims to fill this gap and contribute to the understanding of the role of mobility as a factor in refugees’ satisfaction with their resettlement. This study will be built upon previous grants “Beyond Fear: Voices of Refugees in Tucson and “Dismantling Fear: Voices from Tucson’s Refugee Community’’ both funded by the Confluencenter for Creative Inquiry in Tucson, Arizona. Through these grants, the PI has established a critical network of organizations involved in resettling refugees in Tucson. The team will use the already-established connections to access information and to recruit participants in the project. The International Rescue Committee in Tucson will partner with us in this project. The project team consists of interdisciplinary team from geography, urban planning, and public health. Drawing on each member’s strength the team uses mixed methods to achieve the research goals. The researchers will use a mixed methods approach to analyze factors of mobility in determining refugees’ mobility, transportation choices, and life-satisfaction. The team will seek to expand on the PIs existing contacts and employ a survey of 150 refugees and 50 face-to-face interviews using the chain referral sampling method. In this method the team will rely on referrals of participants to others who could potentially participate in and contribute to the project. The team will use this method with the premise that peers are better suited in reaching out other interested individuals in their communities than the researchers (González, 2011; Hathaway, 2010; Abdul-Quader, 2006; Watters, 1989). Findings from interviews and surveys with refugees will be triangulated with quantitative data to better the understanding of the importance of mobility in refugee population and their perception of life-satisfaction and fulfillment.


  • English


  • Status: Active
  • Funding: $224006
  • Contract Numbers:



  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology

    University Transportation Centers Program
    Department of Transportation
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Managing Organizations:

    TREC at Portland State University

    1900 SW Fourth Ave, Suite 175
    P.O. Box 751
    Portland, Oregon  United States  97201
  • Performing Organizations:

    University of Arizona, Tucson

    PO Box 210072
    Tucson, AZ  United States  85721
  • Principal Investigators:

    Myadar, Orhon

    Adkins, Arlie

    Ingram, Maia

    Iroz-Elardo, Nicole

  • Start Date: 20200901
  • Expected Completion Date: 20221231
  • Actual Completion Date: 0
  • USDOT Program: University Transportation Centers

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01746857
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: National Institute for Transportation and Communities
  • Contract Numbers: NITC-1377, 69A3551747112
  • Files: UTC, RIP
  • Created Date: Jul 28 2020 3:49PM