A powerful account of the long and painful journey toward asylum for two Congolese refugees.
Regina Bakala, a former political activist in the Democratic Republic of Congo who suffered terrible consequences for her activism, narrowly escaped almost certain death in 1995 and made it to the United States—but not to safety. After living in America for a decade—during which time she reunited with her husband and had two children—immigration officials took Bakala one evening in 2005. A victim of poor legal representation and a cruel immigration system, she faced an extraordinarily difficult and complex case with few avenues for legal action. Yet an entire congregation, led by Sister Flynn, came together and generated an overwhelming amount of financial, emotional, legal and logistical support for her and her family—the result is truly uplifting. The book makes intensely personal two problems that are, to most Americans, impossibly abstract: the political turmoil in the Congo and the U.S. immigration system. Flynn explains the situation in a way that makes the plight of all immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers clear and understandable. Though the torture both Bakala and her husband endured in the Congo is horrific, Flynn handles their stories in a sensitive, compassionate way. In addition to their stories, a cogent overview of immigration policy, a rough primer for activism and the details of their legal process toward asylum, Flynn explores her own personal history as a survivor of abuse. As might be expected from a book written by a nun, the Catholic faith of both the author and the Bakala family are absolutely central to the story; however, this may be the rare book that the staunchest progressive and the most devout Catholic could read together.
Arresting and inspiring—a must-read for people of faith, immigration activists and anyone concerned with social justice.