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January 29, 2016, Rights Reading

January 29, 2016

Experiences of a Refugee

Our weekly roundup of what we’re reading: a few select articles from the front lines of human rights that we don’t want you to miss.

1. “Why Is It So Difficult for Syrian Refugees to Get Into the U.S.?” by Eliza Griswold, New York Times Magazine

“The al-Haj Alis are five of the 2,647 Syrian refugees who have been resettled in the United States, roughly 0.06 percent of the more than 4.5 million driven from the country since the uprising began in 2011. . . . ‘It’s extremely difficult to get into the United States as a refugee — the odds of winning the Powerball are probably better,’ says David Miliband, head of the International Rescue Committee.”

Collecting biometric data, undergoing intensive screening interviews, repaying loans for air travel, and more — an in-depth exploration, through the experiences of the al-Haj Ali family, of the hurdles that Syrians face in seeking safe haven in the United States. The difficulties the al-Haj Alis faced (and still face, with one son and his family stuck in Jordan) in making their way to safety in the United States are some of the reasons we’ve urged President Obama to accept more Syrian refugees in particular (and more refugees in general); worked against legislation like the “SAFE” Act, which would essentially ban Syrian and other Muslim refugees from the United States; and supported refugees on the ground throughout Europe.
2. “The paradox at the heart of Obama’s Central American refugee policy,” by Dara Lind, Vox

“At the same time that the US is promising to bring people out of Central America to the US, it’s fighting very hard to send some Central Americans back. To advocates, immigration judges, and Central American diplomats, it’s a dangerous paradox. There appear to be serious concerns that the same people the US wants to save from danger in Central America are the ones it’s deporting.”

A great Vox explainer of a disturbing phenomenon in U.S. immigration. While we welcome news of the new U.S.-U.N. program to process asylum seekers in the Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, we too see the paradox of deporting people back to those same countries. As Rachel Gore Freed, UUSC’s vice president and chief program officer says, “”Expanding the U.S. refugee resettlement program is plainly a step in the right direction in terms of recognizing the Central American humanitarian crisis. But the provision must not be used as a pretext for criminalizing those who may continue to seek asylum at our border.”

3. “Another Kind of Girl,” by Khaldiya, New York Times Op-Docs

In this mini-documentary, a 17-year-old Syrian refugee presents her life in a refugee camp. Survivors of crises throughout the world deserve every opportunity to tell their own stories — and it’s essential that we listen. This act of listening to what communities want and need is foundational to our approach in advancing human rights.

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