Echoes of Cuban History Still Ring in the Ears of Long Time Cuban Refugees

April 10, 2019

BY JORDAN KISSANE – The walls of Gema Sanchez’ small home in Miami are decorated with crosses and Catholic rosaries, and on this day, Sanchez was thinking of another house in Cuba years ago when she spent Sunday mornings in church and Sunday afternoons cooking arroz con frijoles with her Abuela, or grandmother.        They always sang Celia Cruz songs, she said. “She was like today’s Beyoncè,” Sanchez laughed, remembering the…


Refugees Resettled in Small Cities and Suburbs Face Transportation Challenges

April 8, 2019

BY LAUREN HARRIS – Salah Kamal, a 30-year old Syrian refugee, has a love-hate relationship with the public bus of his hometown, Grand Rapids, Mich. When he was resettled in 2016 in Grand Rapids, a mid-size Michigan city, the local bus system was his only connection to food, healthcare, work and important immigration appointments. Though riding the bus made such things possible, Kamal says, it didn’t necessarily make them easy….


Refugees from Anti-LGBTQI Violence in Chechnya Warily Come Out of Hiding

April 5, 2019

BY RAISA OSTAPENKO – K is one of a handful of refugees from Chechnya’s persecuted LGBTQI+ community who has been bold enough to talk publicly after fleeing the wave of persecution directed against the marginalized group. Some survivors detail abuses endured at the hands of authorities in the Caucasian republic, while others relate the struggles and joys of integrating into the new societies that have granted them asylum. K falls…


Somali Refugee Family hides 16 Years in Nairobi Before Living Freely in Buffalo

April 4, 2019

BY YILUN CHENG – The Ali family finally received news after 16 years of staying illegally in Nairobi that their resettlement applications had been approved. Refugees from Somalia, they faced more than seven months of intensive interviews that had paid off at last. They now had a flight to Buffalo, an American city that they had never heard of. Mustafa Ali, now 28 and the lead case manager of Buffalo’s…


View from Bay Ridge: Syrian With Asylum Looks Toward Home

April 1, 2019

BY TAMARA SAADE – On a warm Friday evening in Damascus in early February 2019, the Al Nahlawi family celebrated a daughter’s engagement with a festive dinner with the fiancé’s family. Far away in New York, through a few family selfies and pictures shared on WhatsApp, Ahmad Al Nahlawi, the father of the soon-to-be bride, could almost pretend he was with them. Having obtained asylum in the U.S., the 55-year-old…


Once Jailed in China, Human Rights Lawyer Still Fighting For Justice in NJ

March 31, 2019

BY RONNIE LI – Biao Teng, a Chinese human rights lawyer, was walking on a street near his home one day eight years ago when someone came up behind him suddenly, took off his shirt and covered his eyes with it, and then forced him into a car before he could make a sound. Teng was taken into custody and held for about 10 weeks in solitary confinement in retaliation…


After 27 Years Attempt at ‘Ethnic Cleansing’ Still Haunts Bosnians

March 28, 2019

BY JOY Y. T. CHANG – Muamer Lihic was once close enough to hear the sound of an incoming grenade just as it was about to explode; it was the sound of death. “When a grenade is shot – you can hear it when they shoot it – the sound is faster than the grenade. If you can hear it poof– somewhere, you’re safe,” Lihic recalled, “if you hear the…


No Easy Path to Canadian Citizenship For Some Syrian Refugees

March 27, 2019

BY YEJI LEE – Canada has received international attention for an innovative program that has brought 56,800 Syrian refugees into the country by pairing one refugee family with five volunteer Canadian sponsors for a year. Now, in early 2019, close to 25,000 of those refugees are eligible to apply for citizenship. For those refugees looking to become Canadians, however, more obstacles lie ahead. “I would say around 90 percent of…


Without a Country of Their Own, Stateless People Remain in Limbo

March 26, 2019

BY MIRNA ALSHARIF – Karina Ambartsoumian Clough was just three years old when her parents started preparing her and her little sister for what was going to be a long trip. “I remember my mother putting multiple layers on us to minimize packing,” said 30-year-old Clough, a Philadelphia resident. “I also distinctly remember a train, a plane, and a boat. The train took us to Germany, where my dad called…


Yemenis Yearn for Home After Fleeing War

March 16, 2019

Kawthar Abdullah was 19 when she fled her home country of Yemen in July of 2015. She left with her sister, who was 15 at the time, on a boat from Aden, a port city on the southern end of the red sea, to Djibouti, a country on the horn of Africa. Her parents, who were in New York, payed $3,000 to smuggle their daughters out of Yemen. Abdullah is 22 now. “We were really on the verge of drowning,” Abdullah said softly in a cafe in downtown Manhattan, while a top 40 pop song played on the speakers behind her. “People took their entire livelihood with them on that boat.”