Uprooted: A Film Analysis of Refugee Resettlement in Tennessee

Shannon Therese Mullane

Abstract

This short documentary analyzes the refugee resettlement policy in Tennessee. It discusses system design, implementation challenges, and proposed solutions. The discussion of the system structure includes an overview of international and domestic processing, as well as a detailed look at the support offered to refugees during their first months in the United States. The film then focuses on the resettlement programs offered in Tennessee and assesses some of the major challenges associated with them. Among these challenges are: adequate communication between refugees and government operators, program adaptation to changing refugee needs, English language learning, long-term support, and disagreement in the legislature. HB1326/SB1325 is a bill proposed in 2013 that would potentially eliminate the existence of the refugee resettlement program in Tennessee. The bill has not passed yet, and a committee was created to perform a cost assessment study. Through conservative estimates, this study concluded that refugees contribute positively to the Tennessee economy. The final section of the documentary discusses possible solutions to issues surrounding refugee care in Tennessee. These include: better childcare support, mandatory English classes for longer periods, and more efficient communication methods between refugees, the public, legislators and resettlement agencies. It concludes that better education and communication training is fundamental to creating a more efficient and effective refugee resettlement system.