Date of Award

Summer 2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Sociology & Criminal Justice


Criminology and Criminal Justice

Committee Director

Vanessa Panfil

Committee Member

Jennifer Fish

Committee Member

Jeehye Kang

Committee Member

Dawn Rothe


Employing a qualitative case study approach, the current study aims to critically analyze the U.S.’s use of the Special Immigrant Visa program in Iraq and Afghanistan by examining the individuals it serves, the agencies through which services are rendered, and the state’s vested geopolitical interests in the program. Engaging in active participation, I observed and interacted with those who work within, assist, or utilize the services of Commonwealth Catholic Charities’ refugee resettlement program, including case workers, service providers, and resettlement clients themselves. Examined through the lens of neoliberal harm, the theoretical frameworks of realpolitik and Simmel’s (1950) concept of the stranger were used to highlight the major themes that emerged from the fieldwork. These themes include the existence of bureaucratic hurdles throughout the resettlement process, the placement of SIVs and refugees into the least desirable positions within society, and the state’s use of calculated kindness, a term coined by Loescher and Scanlan (1998) referring to America’s calculated response to refugee crises to advance foreign policy objectives. Under the SIV program, the U.S. entered into a predatory and parasitic relationship with Iraqi and Afghan nationals, relying upon them to fill vital positions to fuel the American war machine. Despite the invaluable role SIVs played in U.S. campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is abundantly clear that the U.S. did not hold up their end of the bargain. The message is loud and clear: you were “worthy” enough to die for us, but not to live with us.


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