Methods: The data for the qualitative study were collected through twenty-three semi-structured interviews with caregivers (13 mothers and 10 fathers) living in North Texas. The participants came from Syria, Egypt, Iraq, and Sudan. All the participants had migrated as refugees or asylees. The interviews were conducted in Arabic, transcribed, and translated into English. Coding was done through a multistep strategy derived from grounded theory methods using open coding and axial coding. To ensure study rigor, analytic triangulation, peer-debriefing, and verbatim quotations are provided in the presentation.
Findings: Six major themes that affect the resettlement process for these MENA IRs in the US emerge in the analysis: 1) influence of strict gender roles in Arab culture; 2) acculturative processes and stress; 3) diminished opportunities due to language barriers and non-recognition of educational degrees from the country of origin; 4) mental health challenges as a result of trauma and resettlement experiences; 5) financial stressors leading to everyday struggles, and 6) the adverse impact of COVID-19 on IR children and families. Analysis indicates that MENA IRs experience a unique acculturative stress because of the trauma and challenges they face in the resettlement process. The findings indicate that the resettlement process became more complicated during the pandemic, increasing anxiety and generating mental health issues among caregivers and children. The analysis reveals that despite mental health being stigmatized, most of the participants admit to experiencing mental health challenges and understand the importance of addressing mental health issues. The multiple challenges faced by MENA IRs impact their lives at the personal, family, and community levels and interact with each other to create formidable challenges in the resettlement process.
Conclusion/Implications: This research provides an in-depth insight into the major challenges experienced by MENA IRs during their resettlement process in the US during the pandemic. The acculturative stressors could likely be mitigated to some extent through trauma-informed responses from the policymakers, community members, and service providers. The findings emphasize the need for more training on cultural sensitivity among service providers working with MENA IRs and family-centered school-based preventive interventions to promote resilience and protective family processes and factors among MENA IRs.