I linked to this piece by Julia Ioffe in a link round-up recently, but I wanted to call it out again because it is a moving, beautiful piece of journalism:
[T]o most people watching the refugee crisis unfold, the refugees detained and turned back at airports across the country are likely abstractions, too. They do not see what brought them there or the bureaucratic Rube Goldberg machine they had to navigate to be deemed safe and responsible refugees.
I look at them and I see us, sitting in that strangely lit room with the Immigration and Naturalization Service officers who processed us and to whom, I’m sure, we were an abstraction, and who didn’t tell us that the way we transliterated our last name was stupid and that people would forever after think it began with lowercase L and not an uppercase I. But I think about that room and the refugee cards they filled out, cards we still have to this day, and what would have happened if we too had been turned back.
Where would we have gone? We were people without a home, without a country. We had been stripped of our Soviet citizenship, we had sold everything to pay the four steep fines for having four citizenships stripped from us, and we certainly didn’t have enough money left over for four plane tickets back, back to a country we no longer belonged to and wouldn’t have us. After all that paperwork and waiting, where would we go?