Many class­mates, friends, and family mem­bers of Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsar­naev have expressed shock in the accu­sa­tions against the Chechen-​​born brothers who are sus­pected to be respon­sible for the Boston Marathon bombing. This is espe­cially true in the case of Dzhokhar, who appeared to be well inte­grated in Amer­ican cul­ture com­pared to his older brother, Tamerlan. How is it that two brothers from the same ori­gins had such very dif­ferent expe­ri­ences of encul­tur­a­tion into the U.S. and how did their tra­jec­to­ries even­tu­ally con­verge to create such mass destruction?

While many of the details of their migra­tion expe­ri­ence have been made public, together they pro­vide us with a sig­nif­i­cant under­standing of how much it was affected by their refugee status. The Tsar­naev family entered the U.S. as refugees or invol­un­tary immi­grants who were forced to seek asylum. Hence, the brothers’ age and psy­cho­log­ical devel­op­ment at the time of arrival in the U.S., pre­vious expe­ri­ences in their country of origin, and refugee status pro­vide clues into their varying levels of incor­po­ra­tion in their new home and how their dif­ferent paths ulti­mately converged.

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