Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Family Studies

Migration as a Method of Coping with Turbulence among Palestinians*

Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Family Studies

Migration as a Method of Coping with Turbulence among Palestinians*

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Migration is one way individuals and families cope with economic uncertainty and political turbulence. Migrations in search of stability may be embarked upon with the intention to resettle temporarily or permanently, and these intentions may change over time. Migrants may include only income-producers or entire families. While migration chosen as a strategy for coping with turbulence and uncertainty is often thought of as voluntary migration, many scholars consider the dislocations and disruptions caused by conflict and globalization as events that force migration to occur. This article is about Palestinian migration from Jordan to the United States, the experiences of these migrants while in the United States, their ideas about circular migration, and the potential impact of Post 9/11 U.S. policies and social climate on this migration.

Palestinians have resettled extensively within and outside the Arab World since the creation of the State of Israel in 1948 and the 1967 Israeli military occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza (Cainkar, 1988). Indeed, more than 50% of the Palestinian population lives in exile. Many Palestinians are "twice migrants" (Bhachu, 1985). They planted their roots in bordering countries after becoming refugees in 1948 or 1967, or upon locating employment opportunities and safety following the social, political, and economic destabilization that accompanied Israeli military occupation, and then migrated once again in search of better lives. The border country of Jordan which has been the largest single recipient of Palestinians in exile, has more than 2 million Palestinians. Major sites of Palestinian second migration include the Arab Gulf countries, especially Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, and the United States. Palestinian migration to the Gulf States occurred in large numbers between the 1950s and 1990 (Brand, 1988). While this migration returned lucrative rewards until the late 198Os, it largely came to an end with the Gulf War of 1990-91. Indeed, the vast majority of Palestinian migrants were expelled from these countries during and after the 1990-91 Gulf War (Cainkar, 1994). Palestinians began migrating to the United States around the turn of the 20th Century (Al-Tahir, 1952; Cainkar, 1988). This migration accelerated after 1948, increased again after the 1965 change in U.S. immigration laws, and has continued unabated through the turn of the 21st Century. Palestinians living in Jordan have also increased their levels of migration to the U.S. Data for immigrants to the U.S. carrying Jordanian passports, which includes West Bank Palestinians travelling on Jordanian passports, Jordanians, and Palestinian citizens of Jordan, show increases through 2001, excluding the years 1982-89. During these years, more Palestinians came to the U.S. to study than as immigrants (Cainkar, 1988). Since the 1990-91 Gulf War, the United States has become one of the primary locations of Palestinian resettlement.

QUALITY OF LIFE IN THE UNITED STATES

A study by Cainkar (1998) revealed, among other things, a growing low-income sector of the Palestinian immigrant population in Chicago, a community that in the past had been characterized largely by upward economic mobility. This growth was explained by a complex interaction of factors, including lowered remittances sent "back home", changes in the local Chicago economy, political pressures on Arab shopkeepers, and changing migration patterns (Cainkar, 1999). One of the more striking findings of this study was that a majority of low- and low-middle-income Palestinian respondents said that they would prefer to return to their homes in Palestine (largely the West Bank) or Jordan if they could. They felt that the quality of their lives was superior in their home country or in their country of first resettlement, even though they were economically better off and their children had more opportunities in Chicago. They spoke of the poor quality of their networks of social relations in the U. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.