I imagine that the current state of U.S. refugee resettlement is no surprise to writer Jessica Goudeau, who describes the United States’ predictable pendulum swing between “restrictionist” (limited admissions) and “liberalizer” (more open admissions) refugee policies over the decades in her book, After the Last Border: Two Families and the Story of Refuge in America.
The stories of The Refugees do not follow one single thread, save this: leaving one world and entering another is not a zero-sum game. For the figures of Nyguen’s stories, travelling over the ocean does not mean that the past resides in family homes; the present is a constant act of integration, bricolage performed over and over again, carving out space for the past.
We serve a God who points us to an abundant life. And maybe that’s not a safe life, or a comfortable life, or a life that makes no demands on us. But if we have learned anything from Scripture, it’s that this God loves to hide the good news of that abundant life in the face of a stranger.
How should we have mercy on those who are experiencing the ravages of war, whose very lives are being robbed from them? Should we ask for the tired, the poor, and the huddled masses yearning to break free just to be brought here?