Desperate Crossings: Seeking Refuge in America

Norman L. Zucker, Author, Naomi Flink Zucker, Joint Author
Norman L. Zucker, Author, Naomi Flink Zucker, Joint Author M.E. Sharpe $32.95 (184p) ISBN 978-1-56324-728-6
Reviewed on: 09/02/1996
Release date: 09/01/1996
Hardcover - 171 pages - 978-1-56324-727-9
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Although the writing is clear, the story interesting and the research solid, this treatment of the refugee is rooted in the past. Most of the book examines the influence of ""a troika of interests--foreign policy, the costs of resettlement and domestic pressures"" on U.S. refugee policy for Cuba and Haiti. Few would deny that the refugees from Haiti under the Duvaliers had fears that were at least as legitimate as the ones haunting those fleeing Castro's Cuba, but various administrations, guided by Cold War thinking, were grotesquely inequitable when it came to granting refuge. The author also touches on the same dichotomy in the U.S.'s treatment of refugees from Nicaragua and those from Salvador or Guatemala. The Zuckers (The Guarded Gate) trace how America changed the ground rules in response to the fall of the U.S.S.R., new domestic pressure (both from a Cuban community that was no longer monolithic and from Anglos and African Americans) and increasing concern about costs. The book would have been more helpful if it then addressed truly current concerns. The authors mention only briefly African refugees and not at all the increasingly important cases of genital mutilation of African girls and the mass rape of Bosnian women (if the latter is termed a war crime, the women are eligible for refugee status; if called simply violence, they are not). Clearly this is aimed at the converted (the Zuckers admit that ""Americans' concerns over jobs and taxes were legitimate"" but go no further), but most readers already concerned about refugees will want to know more about the future. (Sept.)
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