How Can I Learn More?
- NEW – See the Connection Between Migration and Handcrafts in “Migrant Women Fleeing Violence Find Beauty and Healing in Embroidery,” in America: A Jesuit Review.
- NEW – Attend a Recorded Virtual Sunday Forum, “What Muslim Americans Would Like You to Know About Islam,” featuring Imam Dr. Abdul Mawgoud Dardery, who serves at Brooklyn Park Islamic Center and is a Professor of Global Studies at Minneapolis College, and Abdifaah Ali, a member of the Brooklyn Park Islamic Center and a student at St. Cloud State University. Details and a link to watch are posted on Plymouth’s Sunday Forum page; scroll down to the Dec. 6 Forum recording.
- NEW – Read an outstanding short article from Detention Watch Network on how the immigrant detention system functions in the United States – but should not be allowed to continue to do so.
- Visit the digital storytelling project “Humanizing Deportation,” which explores the effects of mass deportation by having deportees tell their own stories and control the visuals used to illustrate them. Started in 2017, the project involves the University of California, Davis, as well as four organizations in Mexico. If you have five or six minutes, stream an individual’s story. If you have more time and want to study aspects of mass deportation, the website includes a media section and a section for researchers with hyperlinks by topic.
- Take a free mini-course on U.S. immigrants offered by the Pew Research Center. A Pew team that studies immigrants and immigration trends worldwide crafted this course, which is made up of five short email “lessons” that will be delivered to your inbox over a span of two weeks. Pew Research Center is a non-partisan, neutral source of data and analysis. Sign up online.
- Read the article “Migrant Deaths in Arizona Deserts Reach Seven Year High” published in Arizona’s Tucson Sentinel.
- Read an article about migrants being “dumped” in the small town of Sasabe, AZ, published in The Intercept. Green Valley-Sahuarita Samaritans have joined other humanitarian groups in providing food and water until a better solution is found. The article references this interactive map of migrant deaths, which is worth exploring.
- Listen to an American Refugee podcast that returns a national audience to Sherburn County Jail. You’ll learn more about the fight to free Gregorio Montejo, and the shadow work of how American jails help ICE detain and deport as many immigrants as possible.
- Learn the facts about immigrants in Minnesota (quick read).
The Death of Josseline by Margaret Regan (Beacon Press, 2010)
Reviewed by John Humphrey
Margaret Regan writes for the Tucson Weekly. She is also the author of Detained and Deported. The Death of Josseline is the first story in the collection, and it hits hard. A 14-year-old girl freezes to death in the desert. In Plymouth’s 2020 Arizona trip group photo album, we have pictures of desert graves, surely similar to the one erected for Josseline. One of the things that struck me on our trip was how committed people are to remembering the lost and often nameless immigrants who died near them, to giving them the love and respect they would give a member of their own family who had died.
Regan does a strong and beautiful job capturing the love the whole community—family, EMTs, sheriffs, religious leaders and neighbors—felt for this poor child. Her death was a tragic loss, ought to have been a tragic loss, and yet the deaths continue to mount (3000 known, estimates as high as 6000, including all those known missing and never found), and we seem helpless to prevent them.
The book ends with the story of Jesus, a baby born the week before Christmas in the Arizona desert (and therefore an American, though our current president is working to change that law), and how a Border Patrol agent saved mother’s and baby’s lives. Another powerful story describes Café Justo, a coffee co-op in Agua Prieta (which we visited on our trip). Run entirely by and for migrants, the co-op involves coffee farmers in Chiapas in southern Mexico, and a coffee house and processing facility in Sonora, on the Arizona border, making it easier for them to reach their (mostly) American customers. It is a remarkable story of innovation—Chiapans fleeing their home state because of violence and not being allowed into the US, so they start a business on the border!
Whether you’ve spent any time in Arizona or not, this book will show you the migrant life there. You will not be able to look at immigrants without seeing the human beings behind the stories.
The Ungrateful Refugee: What Immigrants Never Tell You by Dina Nayeri (Catapult, 2019)
Reviewed by Joan Thompson
In her first work of nonfiction, Dina Nayeri writes not only a memoir of her own experience as a refugee and immigrant but also an exploration of issues facing current refugees. The Ungrateful Refugee raises questions that could use far more discussion in the West than they currently get.
Nayeri was born in Iran the year of the revolution and fled with her mother and brother when she was eight. Her mother, a physician, had converted to Christianity while visiting her mother in England. As the mother hands out Christian materials, she comes under scrutiny, and her life is in danger. The family makes their way to Dubai, an Italian hotel turned refugee camp, and finally the home of evangelicals in Oklahoma where Nayeri witnesses her mother’s struggles, especially with employment, and also has her own problems fitting in before escaping to top-flight universities.
Presently living in Paris, Nayeri intertwines her family’s story with that of contemporary refugees she meets or learns about through interviews. These stories add depth to the book and range from the travails of an Afghani couple escaping the Taliban to Syrians trying to get out of Greek refugee camps. An especially compelling story is that of two young Iranian men who escape, but whose stories diverge drastically as they try to normalize their status in England and the Netherlands respectively.
As she takes the reader into these stories, Nayeri asks important questions: Why do many Americans assume that refugees, in the time before their countries became dangerous, must have lived in worse circumstances than our country offers? Why are some refugees seen as deserving and others not, and should that be the case? How can organizations and individuals offering help give refugees dignity rather than making them receivers of charity? How do asylum officers, whether in the U.S. or European countries, use their own culture’s view of narrative to judge whether a refugee has experienced a verifiable threat, when that refugee’s culture may signify narrative importance differently?
All of these questions are well worth exploring through the immigrants and refugees Nayeri introduces us to. Her book is especially valuable because of its focus not only on U.S. immigration but also on refugee status and immigration in several European countries. These are issues of much importance in this era of increasing migration from the south throughout much of the world.
If you have children (or grandchildren), and you haven’t already read them some of these, here are some wonderful immigration-related books for kids in Plymouth’s library:
Stepping Stones: A Refugee Family’s Journey, Ruurs
Where Will I Live?, McCarney
My Name is Yoon, Keats
Tea With Milk, Say
A Different Pond, Phi (MN writer!)
Calling the Doves, Herrera
Dia’s Story Cloth, Cha
Across the Wide Dark Sea, Van Leeuwen
Calling the Water Drum, Redding
Inside Out and Back Again, Lai
Who Belongs Here?, Knight
All the Lights in the Night, Levine