The Asylum Seekers

A Chronicle of Life, Death, and Community at the Border

The Asylum Seekers

A Chronicle of Life, Death, and Community at the Border

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Available March 18, 2025

A remarkable, decimating work of reporting by award-winning journalist and priest Cristina Rathbone about asylum seekers trapped at a port of entry to the US: the trauma they carry, the community they create, and the faith they maintain.

The Asylum Seekers offers a rare narrative account of the horror of the US-Mexico border. Borders run through author Cristina Rathbone too, whose mother was a Cuban refugee. So in 2019 she travels to Juarez, unsure what to do but determined to learn.

Weaving intimate portraits of individuals with broader stories about the community, reporting from the border as a whole, and reflections on the meaning of faith in a place of suffering, Rathbone tells the story of Mexican asylum seekers living in a makeshift tent camp at the foot of a bridge. Life in the camp is both hectic and harrowing. Families arrive. Families leave. Families get through to the US. Families are returned from the US. Women weep, children squabble, and grown men sob over photographs of their murdered sons' mutilated bodies.

Here too, however, are beauty, and empathy, and hope. Over time, a leadership team emerges. The community begins to convene daily meetings, establish systems of distribution for donations, and start classes for the kids. Serving as an unofficial chaplain, Rathbone is there through it all: listening, receiving, assisting, and most of all learning about what authentic faith looks like under conditions such as these.

Written in the tradition of My Fourth Time, We Drowned and Rivermouth, The Asylum Seekers renders in startling, intimate detail the day-to-day lives of people who are determined to enter the US legally and who often suffer for it. The result is a fierce, poignant inquiry into the dignity of those who seek asylum--and into what we owe each other.

Product Info

  • Publisher Broadleaf Books
  • Format Hardcover
  • ISBN 9798889832010
  • eBook ISBN 9798889832027
  • Dimensions 5.75 x 8.75
  • Pages 242
  • Publication Date March 18, 2025
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