Migration as a Method of Coping with Turbulence among Palestinians
Format of Original
University of Calgary Press
Journal of Comparative Family Studies
Migration is one way individuals and families cope with economic uncertainty and political turbulence. Palestinians have used migration as a means to find economic stability and opportunities for their children since 1948, due to continuous strife in and displacement from their homeland. Built on earlier studies, this article discusses the findings of in-depth-interviews and focus groups with low-income Palestinians from Amman, Jordan now living in Chicago concerning their quality of life and the indicators they use to assess it. The authors found that these Palestinians see life in the United States as much richer in economic and educational opportunities than Jordan, but Jordan is viewed as being safer and providing stronger social supports. Consequently, they see their migration as circular, with movement plans timed to maximizing the best features of each country. Rather than seeking to settle permanently in the United States, they speak about living transnationally - moving between the two countries at different stages in their own and their children's life cycles. Since September 11th, 2001 however, the social and policy context in the United States has changed, especially for Arabs and Muslims. Alter describing some of these changes, the authors speculate that they may limit and change the character of Palestinian migration from Jordan, making a transnational lifestyle more risky and life in the US less tolerable. They find preliminary support for this idea in a survey of 33 residents of Amman and in an examination of data from the US visa lottery.