This ethnographic project explores how refugee-serving staff and Rohingya refugees navigate the United States Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP), which focuses on refugees achieving self-sufficiency as its main metric of success. The goal of this research is to understand how refugee-serving staff perceive self-sufficiency, which is seen as synonymous with achieving a “good life,” and how Rohingya refugees envision and establish a “good life” in Dallas, Texas. This study is oriented around the historical and current experiences of securitization faced by Rohingya refugees, their experiences in the United States, the neoliberal design of the USRAP, the issues that refugee-serving staff have with the USRAP, and how adult married Rohingya with children and unmarried Rohingya young adults conceptualize the elements of a “good life.”

I argue that Rohingya refugees work to create “good lives” and work to exercise their moral agency, the ability to be seen by others as a “good enough” person within the constraints of the USRAP. This occurs simultaneously as refugee-serving staff work to administer the USRAP’s goals while wanting to expand the definition of self-sufficiency and to increase the impact of their work.

Degree Date

Spring 5-11-2024

Document Type


Degree Name





Neely Myers

Second Advisor

Kelly McKowen

Third Advisor

Nia Parson

Fourth Advisor

Marcia Inhorn

Subject Area


Number of Pages




Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License

Available for download on Thursday, May 01, 2025