Learning and Teaching
- NEW – Talk about immigration with your family—whether you are an immigrant, an ally or beginning to learn about the U.S. immigration system. Download a free family conversation guide from RAICES, the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services.
- NEW – Immigration is a complicated issue. It’s helpful to have some background, and a great start is to watch the video “U.S. Immigration – The Basics” by Alyson Ball. She is a Samaritan, working with asylum seekers, refugees and immigrants in Arizona and Virginia. Ball keeps up-to-date on immigration issues and gives presentations throughout the United States. This 53-minute video will get you acquainted with basic immigration history, law and practice.
- Read the Center for Victims of Torture’snew backgrounder, “Arbitrary & Cruel: How U.S. Immigration Detention Violates the Convention against Torture and Other International Obligations,” which illustrates how the dehumanizing and cruel policies and practices in the immigration detention system violate the Convention against Torture, and makes the case that the system must be eliminated for the United States to comply with international law.
- Watch two short videos (one minute each) by Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services (LIRS): One shares a truly terrifying projection of 100,000 unaccompanied children at the U.S. Mexico border this year; the other is a lovely prayer for migrant children.
- Check out this beautiful and powerful “visual op-ed” (“cartoon” doesn’t do it justice!) on border wall construction.
- Guest columnist Brian Fauver, who hosted two asylum seekers in his home, argues in Boulder Weekly—in well-reasoned detail—why migrants need compassion, not surveillance.
- The Biden administration’s prioritization of immigration is encouraging, but there is a critical priority that has yet to be addressed: ICE’s deadly and inhumane detention system. Detention Watch Network created analyses and recommendations to help us collectively make sense of the shifting political landscape:
- Child Detention FAQ(April)
- Analysis of President Biden’s Executive Order on Private Prisons(March)
- Analysis of ICE Revision of Interim Enforcement and Removal Guidelines(March)
- Administrative Advocacy Priorities for the First Year of the Biden Administration(February)
- Ending Detention at the Border: Recommendations to the Biden Administration(February)
- Read any of the diverse and fascinating articles about unaccompanied minors at the U.S.-Mexico border in the collection Opinions in Print by the Green Valley-Sahuarita Samaritans.
What Strange Paradise (Alfred A. Knopf, 2021) by Omar El Akkad
Reviewed by Joan Thompson
This summer, American newspapers are full of articles about migrants at our southern border. However, migration to the global north continues worldwide, and both conflicts and climate change continue to fuel it. In his excellent second novel, What Strange Paradise, Omar El Akkad reminds us that rickety boats filled with migrants still cross the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas.
Amir Utu, a young boy originally from Homs, Syria is the only survivor of a ship that goes down in view of resort lights on a Greek island. When he flees into the forest, Vänna Hermes, a fifteen-year-old who feels estranged from her parents and the island where her northern European family has tried to start a tourist hotel, hides Amir from authorities.
In alternating chapters titled “After” and “Before,” El Akkad explores the children’s flight across the island as Vänna trying to keep Amir from the authorities. The “Before” chapters explore Amir’s journey from Homs to Alexandria and events that lead him to accidentally be on the boat. These chapters reveal the character of those traveling with Amir as well as some of the reasons they are leaving home and the dangers of human traffickers to young migrants. While civil war drives Amir from Syria, he remembers his father telling him of the drought that, in part, led to the war, a reminder that climate change ties to unrest.
Both Amir’s and Vänna’s observations tell us much about migration. Additionally, El Akkad complicates the behavior of the main military officer trying to track down the children, Colonel Kethros, and the apprentice smuggler, Mohamed, trying to keep order on the boat. Each reveals much of what citizens of the global north think of migrants from the global south, yet each man also reveals much about himself.
What Strange Paradise is a beautifully written exploration of the global issue of migration with finely drawn characters whose complicated motives give the novel strength.