Many refugees resettled in the United States do not receive adequate resources upon their arrival, causing dissonance in the humanitarian effort that drives refugee resettlement. Our study addresses how and why refugees have difficulty adjusting to life in the United States at the structural, organizational, and individual levels. While many recent studies have addressed the obstacles affecting refugee integration, there is no investigation into how these factors interact with and compound each other. Adopting the concepts of “structural vulnerability” and the “web of effects,” we argue that the vulnerability of refugees originates from their positionality in United States society and that structural and organizational barriers compound with multiple individual factors to amplify difficulties for refugees to attain economic self-sufficiency. As a result, the structural forces that prevent successful and timely integration become more resistant to individual efforts and effective interventions, resulting in chronic poverty for refugees. We conclude with recommendations to improve the resettlement process and to validate the accomplishments of refugees, which can set the stage for genuine self-sufficiency and integration.

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