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JRS/USA Staff Recommendations for Reading
Jesuit Refugee Service/USA staff recommendations for further reading on the issues of migration, refugees, asylum-seekers and forcibly displaced people. To access the Recommended Reading Archive, please click here.
  • Protection Ethics
  • Refugee Protection
  • Jesuit Values
  • Ethical Obligations
  • Displacement Solutions
  • Inside Dadaab
  • Destination: Europe
  • Abuse of Deportees
  • Transform Immigrant Detention
  • Immigration in Mexico
  • Faith and displacement
  • The Syria crisis
  • AmazonSmile
  • Internally Displaced
  • Children on the Run
  • Bordering on Failure
  • Citizen or Subordinate
  • Boston College (videos)
  • Boston College (publications)
  • Shop Amazon & Support JRS
Borders and Duties to the Displaced: Ethical Perspectives on the Refugee Protection System

This essay by Father David Hollenbach S.J., Pedro Arrupe Distinguished Research Professor at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service and senior fellow at the Berkley Center, proposes some ethical perspectives that can help in the task of reassessing the structure of the global refugee protection system in light of the extraordinarily high levels of refugee movement and forced migration occurring today. It addresses two chief areas. 

How Robust Refugee Protection Policies Can Strengthen Human and National Security

This paper from the Center for Migration Studies makes the case that refugee protection and national security should be viewed as complementary, not conflicting state goals. It argues that refugee protection can further the security of refugees, affected states, and the international community. Refugees and international migrants can also advance national security by contributing to a state’s economic vitality, military strength, diplomatic standing, and civic values. The paper identifies several strategies that would, if implemented, promote both security and refugee protection. It also outlines additional steps that the U.S. Congress should take to enhance U.S. refugee protection policies and security. Finally, it argues for the efficacy of political engagement in support of pro-protection, pro-security policies, and against the assumption that political populism will invariably impede support for refugee protection.

Jesuit Values in Leadership

Creighton University is committed to teaching students in the Jesuit tradition, helping them identify their personal strengths and weaknesses as well as the strengths and weaknesses among their colleagues and within their teams. This unique style of social leadership has sustained many great leaders in their personal crusades to make a difference in the world.

More than 450 years ago the Society of Jesus, the Roman Catholic order commonly called "the Jesuits," blazed a trail of encouraging leadership scholarship. Founded by Ignatius Loyola, who experienced a religious epiphany after being wounded in battle as a Spanish soldier, the Jesuits built their notion of leadership on four values - self-awareness, ingenuity, love and heroism.

Learn more about value-driven leadership on Creighton’s website here.

Ethical Obligations to Displaced People

According to the United Nations, last year some eight million people around the world were displaced from their homes by conflict and social upheaval—the largest number ever recorded in a single year. Religion and Ethics Newsweekly correspondent Kim Lawton talks with prominent Roman Catholic theologian and ethicist Rev. David Hollenbach S.J. about the global refugee crisis and the moral obligations he believes the U.S. government and individual Americans have to respond.

Forced Migration Review 52

Issue 52 of Forced Migration Review explores the ideas and practices that are being tried out in order to engage both development and humanitarian work in support of 'transitions' and 'solutions' for displaced people. What we need, says one author, is "full global recognition that the challenge of forced displacement is an integral part of the development agenda.”

Click here to read this issue.

City of Thorns: Nine Lives in the World's Largest Refugee Camp
City of Thorns: Nine Lives in the World's Largest Refugee Camp takes readers inside Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. 

Situated hundreds of miles from any other settlement, deep within the inhospitable desert of northern Kenya where only thorn bushes grow, Dadaab is a city like no other. Its buildings are made from mud, sticks or plastic, its entire economy is grey, and its citizens survive on rations and luck. Over the course of four years, Ben Rawlence became a first-hand witness to a strange and desperate limbo-land, getting to know many of those who have come there seeking sanctuary. Among them are Guled, a former child soldier who lives for football; Nisho, who scrapes an existence by pushing a wheelbarrow and dreaming of riches; Tawane, the indomitable youth leader; and schoolgirl Kheyro, whose future hangs upon her education. 

In City of Thorns, Rawlence interweaves the stories of nine individuals to show what life is like in the camp and to sketch the wider political forces that keep the refugees trapped there. Rawlence combines intimate storytelling with broad socio-political investigative journalism, doing for Dadaab what Katherinee Boo's Behind the Beautiful Forevers did for the Mumbai slums. Lucid, vivid and illuminating, City of Thorns is an urgent human story with deep international repercussions, brought to life through the people who call Dadaab home. 

Support JRS/USA when you shop at Amazon. When you shop at Amazon Smile, Amazon will make a donation to Jesuit Refugee Service/USA in the form of a small percentage of your purchase.

Destination: Europe — manifestations of the 'migration crisis' in Europe

The manifestations of the 'migration crisis' in Europe are as disparate as the building of fences to stop people crossing normally peaceful borders, the deaths of people transported by smugglers in unseaworthy boats, EU political leaders bickering over a Common European Asylum System and the numbers they will or will not allow into their respective countries, and contentious responses to the disaster that continues to unfold in Syria. 

Alongside this we also see an upsurge of grass-roots compassion, solidarity and assistance to those whose human suffering on a grand scale in and around Europe constitutes the reality behind the rhetoric.

Jesuit Refugee Service Europe’s Stefan Kessler writes about Safety, rescue at sea and legal access in this issue of FMR.

In this issue of FMR, authors throw legal, practical, moral and experiential light on the multifarious issues and manifestations that make up this 'crisis.’ 

FMR 51 includes another 42 articles on 'Destination: Europe,’ plus five 'general' articles on other aspects of forced migration.

For full details, plus information about how to request print copies, please visit

Our Values on the Line: Migrant Abuse and Family Separation at the Border

Commissioned by the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States and the Kino Border Initiative — a bi-national organization in Nogales, Arizona, and Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, which works to promote humane U.S.-Mexico border and immigration policies — the report Our Values on the Line: Migrant Abuse and Family Separation at the Border details the results of an in-depth survey of 358 Mexican migrants deported from the United States to the border city of Nogales, Mexico. The survey was conducted between July 2014 and March 2015, and the chief findings were corroborated by a short-form survey of 7,507 migrants. Both surveys were conducted in Nogales, Mexico, at the Kino Border Initiative.

Unlocking Human Dignity: Transforming the U.S. Immigrant Detention System

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Unlocking Human Dignity: A Plan to Transform the U.S. Immigrant Detention System addresses one of the most troubled features of the U.S. immigration system and highlights the need for fundamental changes to it. 

The report comes six years since the inception of the Obama administration’s detention reform initiative. In the interim, the number of immigrant detainees per year has risen to more than 400,000, the administration has opened immense new family detention centers, and the overwhelming majority of persons in the custody of the Department of Homeland Security have remained in prisons, jails and other secure facilities where they are subject to standards designed for criminal defendants and, in many ways, treated more harshly than criminals.

Click here to read more.

How Immigration Enforcement Practices in Southern Mexico Limit Migrant Children's Access to International Protection

On April 13, 2015, members of the Georgetown Law Human Rights Institute Fact-Finding Project released a report documenting the experiences of unaccompanied minors and migrant families fleeing Central America who are apprehended at the southern Mexico border. The report, The Cost of Stemming the Tide: How Immigration Enforcement Practices in Southern Mexico Limit Migrant Children's Access to International Protection, captures some of the reasons why so few children apply for and receive international protection in Mexico after they are apprehended, and sheds new light on the humanitarian consequences of U.S. support for migrant interdiction and enforcement efforts in Mexico and Central America.
Click here to view and download the report.
Forced Migration Review 48: 'Faith and responses to displacement'

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The role of faith in the humanitarian sector is not easy to measure. Faiths generally advocate welcoming the stranger, and there are many organizations (and individuals) inspired by their faith or religion to assist people in need, and many faith leaders and communities who act locally to provide protection and aid. Yet it is easier to measure the activities inspired by faith than to measure the difference that having that faith makes, and secularly inspired standards for such activities can appear to be in tension with the faith inspiration.

Two articles in particular discuss the Jesuit Refugee Service mission of accompaniment. The first — The value of accompaniment — is co-written by Fr Joe Hampson S.J. Fr Hampson worked with JRS for 14 years. The second article — The contribution of FBOs working with the displaced — is by Fr David Holdcroft S.J. Fr Holdcroft is the Regional Director of Jesuit Refugee Service Southern Africa.

This issue of FMR includes a wide range of articles relating to the feature theme 'Faith,' plus seven general articles looking at the 40th anniversary of the OAU Convention, work and refugee integration in Sweden, Kashmiri Pandits in India, violence in Central America, displacement in Mexico, and the status of refugee integration in Uganda. Click here to visit the FMR issue of Faith.

Forced Migration Review: The Syria crisis, displacement and protection
The 6.45 million displaced people inside Syria make this the largest IDP crisis in the world. In addition, the number of refugees from Syria continues to increase. The international community has an opportunity to set up an effective response to what will clearly become protracted displacement. These 20 articles discuss how to increase protection for the displaced and how to shape assistance to both the displaced and their 'hosts.' — Learn more.

This issue features the article "How the crisis is altering women's roles in Syria," by Zerene Haddad, the Jesuit Refugee Service Middle East & North Africa Regional Communications & Advocacy Officer.
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Global Overview 2014: people internally displaced by conflict and violence
Thirty-three million people were internally displaced at the end of 2013 due to conflict and violence says a new report by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC). This equates to a staggering increase of 4.5 million from 2012, signalling a record high for the second year running.

The Global Overview 2014 is the IDMC's flagship annual report, this year revealing a staggering increase in global displacement worldwide with a particular escalation in the figures in the Middle East and in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The Global Overview 2014: people internally displaced by conflict and violence report explores a number of key challenges including in terms of data collection, IDPs outside of camps, and the complexities around the compounding effects of natural hazards and conflict. 

"This record number of people forced to flee inside their own countries confirms a disturbing upward trend of internal displacement since IDMC first began monitoring and analysing displacement back in the late 90s," says Jan Egeland, the Secretary General of NRC.  

"The dramatic increase in forced displacement in 2013 and the fact that the average amount of time people worldwide are living in displacement is now a staggering 17 years, all suggest that something is going terribly wrong in how we are responding and dealing with this issue," says Egeland.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres added: "We should all be concerned about these numbers and the continuing upwards trend. We have a shared responsibility to act to end this massive suffering.  Immediate protection and assistance for the internally displaced is a humanitarian imperative."

"Global internal displacement is everyone’s problem, from politicians to private companies, development actors and lawyers – we all have a role to play," says Egeland. 

Children on the Run
As crime and violence have increased dramatically in Mexico and Central America in recent years, UNHCR has tracked a notable increase in the number of asylum-seekers—both children and adults—particularly from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala lodging claims in the region. While the United States is receiving the majority of the new asylum claims, combined, Mexico, Panama, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Belize, documented a 432% increase in the number of asylum applications from citizens of these three countries.

Among these numbers is a troubling new trend. The number of children from these countries, making the treacherous journey alone and unaccompanied, has doubled each year since 2011, and the U.S. government estimated—and is on track to reach—60,000 children arriving to U.S. soil seeking safe haven in this fiscal year. While the number of children from Mexico has far outpaced the number of children from any one of the three Central American countries, most of these children are promptly returned to Mexico after no more than a day or two in the custody of the US authorities making it even more difficult to obtain a full picture of who these children are and why they are coming to the U.S.

UNHCR's latest report, Children on the Run, unveils the humanitarian impact of the situation by analyzing the reasons that 404 unaccompanied children gave to a team of researchers for why they left their homes and makes recommendations for a way forward.

Bordering on Failure: Canada-U.S. Border Policy and the Politics of Refugee Exclusion

The Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic (HIRC) released a comprehensive report titled Bordering on Failure: Canada-U.S. Border Policy and the Politics of Refugee Exclusion.  The result of extensive research and fact-finding investigations led by HIRC affiliates Dr. Efrat Arbel (SJD ’12) and Alletta Brenner (JD ’14), the report finds that Canada is systematically closing its borders to asylum seekers, and failing in its refugee protection obligations under domestic and international law.

To view the report, please click here.

Citizen or Subordinate: Permutations of Belonging in the United States and the Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic and the United States have both experienced tensions arising from migratory flows from poorer, less stable neighbors. Until recently, both countries had constitutions which conferred citizenship by birth with very limited exceptions. Despite these similarities, their respective discourses around jus soli citizenship, particularly for the children of unauthorized migrants from the poorer neighboring countries, have manifested in different ways. 

The identity of the United States as a nation of immigrants has limited the success of campaigns to revoke jus soli citizenship for the children of unauthorized immigrants, but the persistent articulation of this idea as a response to illegal migration has shifted the parameters of the immigration debate. In the Dominican Republic, the historical construction of national identity and anti-Haitian discourse has led to an evolution in Dominican law which codifies already established practices that deny citizenship to children of Haitian migrants. In both cases, movements that support more inclusive understandings of societal belonging, like the DREAMers in the United States and youth movements in the Dominican Republic, may offer the most effective way of protecting universal jus soli citizenship regimes.

Click here to read a PDF of the report. It is written by Shaina Aber, Jesuit Conference of the United States and Mary Small, Jesuit Refugee Service/USA and published in the Journal on Migration and Human Security.
Videos from Boston College

The Center for Human Rights and International Justice at Boston College addresses the increasingly interdisciplinary needs of human rights work. Through multidisciplinary training programs, applied research, and the interaction of scholars with practitioners, the Center aims to nurture a new generation of scholars and practitioners in the United States and abroad who draw upon the strengths of many disciplines, and the wisdom of rigorous ethical training in the attainment of human rights and international justice. 

Some videos are highlighted below, please click the linked titles to view them.

Videos from a Migration Symposium 

• The Border is Not a Straight Line 

• Race and Class in U.S. Immigration 

• The Future of Immigration Policy in the U.S.

Other Videos

• Aftermath: Deportation Law and New American Diaspora

• Taking Flight: When Jesus was a Refugee

• Catholic Peacebulding Initiatives in Sudan and Eastern Africa

• Humanitarian Intervention and the Responsibility to Protect

• Causes of Forced Migration and Systemic Responses

• Natural Disasters and Human Rights: Comparing Responses to Natural Disasters in Haiti and Pakistan.

Publications from Boston College faculty and staff

The Center for Human Rights and International Justice at Boston College addresses the increasingly interdisciplinary needs of human rights work. Through multidisciplinary training programs, applied research, and the interaction of scholars with practitioners, the Center aims to nurture a new generation of scholars and practitioners in the United States and abroad who draw upon the strengths of many disciplines, and the wisdom of rigorous ethical training in the attainment of human rights and international justice. 

Some recommended readings are highlighted below, and additional books and articles can be found on their website by clicking here. Links have been provided, where available, for the articles below.

• David Hollenbach (2008). Refugee Rights: Ethics, Advocacy, and Africa 

• David Hollenbach (2010). "Ethical Globalization and the Rights of Refugees" Grace and Truth: A Journal of Catholic Reflection for Southern Africa

• David Hollenbach (2010). "Humanitarian Intervention: Why, When and How?"
137, no. 19.

• David Hollenbach. "Reconciliation and Justice: Ethical Guidance for a Broken World"

• David Hollenbach. "Human Rights, Justice and the World Church"

• David Hollenbach. "Human Rights in Catholic Thought"

• David Hollenbach (2004) "The Hard Lessons of Kakuma: The Suffering of Refugees Should Raise New Questions about the Use of Military Force"  

• Brinton Lykes (2011). "Framing Immigration to and Deportation from the United States: Guatemalan and Salvadoran Families make meaning of their experiences" Community, Work and Family.

• Daniel Kanstroom. Deportation Nation: Outsiders in American History  

• Adam Saltsman. Displaced Iraqis in Jordan: Formal and Informal Information Flows, and Migratory Decisions in a Context of Uncertainty. Appeared in Refuge, Canada's Journal on Refugees.

Shop via the Amazon aStore and a portion of your spending supports Jesuit Refugee Service/USA

We've created an aStore via the website to highlight some of our favorite books and movies. A portion of each sale goes to support our work. So check out our selections ... and help refugees while you shop!