After the Last Border: Two Families and the Story of Refuge in America

Viking. Aug. 2020. 368p. ISBN 9780525559139. $27. SOC SCI
Goudeau’s work with a refugee resettlement agency in Texas informs her intimate portrait of two women whose families sought safety in the United States. By alternately focusing on the individual experiences of Mu Naw from Myanmar and Hasna from Syria, the author humanizes their departures from their homes, the complex and frightening refugee process they encountered, and their different experiences settling in Texas. Along with their stories, which span from roughly 2007-17, Goudeau intersperses several chapters describing a century of complex U.S. federal refugee policy that provide historical context. While Mu Naw and Hasna shared some characteristics, they starkly diverged in the situations they fled and, especially, in the timing of their entry into the U.S. Mu Naw found fewer impediments as a Christian from Myanmar, entering the U.S. in 2007 and quickly adapting to life in Texas. Escaping fierce violence in Syria in 2016, Hasna faced greater impediments than Mu Naw, including having family members impacted by Trump’s travel ban affecting predominantly Muslim countries.
VERDICT An excellent choice for readers seeking to understand the human effects of government immigration and refugee policy. Goudeau’s sometimes heartbreaking narratives personalize the refugee crisis in ways cold news accounts cannot.

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