Asylum Denied: A Refugee's Struggle for Safety in America

David Ngaruri Kenney, Author, Philip G. Schrag, Author . Univ. of California $24.95 (352p) ISBN 978-0-520-25510-4

Astonishing in its power to move and inform, this fluent first-person narrative, a collaboration between a young Kenyan political refugee, Kenney, and his stalwart American attorney, Schrag, depicts the flaws and corruption at the heart of the U.S. asylum process. Kenney fled Kenya in 1995 after being arrested and nearly executed for leading a peaceful protest against the government's treatment of his fellow tea farmers; he survived torture and escaped to America where he was plunged into an incomprehensible and hostile immigration system. Kenney and Schrag's dealings with the Department of Homeland Security and federal immigration courts reveal a system that is “disquietingly random.” Applicants are victims of “refugee roulette,” their fates largely dependent on the sympathies of the government officials who hear their cases. Schrag's recommendations to make the system more consistent and compassionate give the book—and Kenney's heartbreaking story—an added sense of purpose and real practical potential. Kenya's recent political implosion lends this book added topical relevance, but its core concerns for justice and reform remain directed at American society, especially (though not only) its byzantine asylum system. (May)

Reviewed on: 03/24/2008
Release date: 05/01/2008
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 352 pages - 978-0-520-26159-4
Open Ebook - 360 pages - 978-0-520-93472-6
MP3 CD - 978-1-5113-8432-2
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