The ATLANTIC: "The Refugee Detectives"
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From The Atlantic:
The Refugee Detectives
Inside Germany’s high-stakes operation to sort people fleeing death from opportunists and pretenders
The reporter looks through a stack of refugees’ resumes:
… The other trait distinguishing these résumés was that nearly every one contained what I, as someone whose job often involves listening skeptically to people’s stories, would call irregularities, little details that seemed odd, that begged for explanation. An Afghan with no formal education claimed to know a language not spoken in any country she had visited; an African doctor whose CV could have gotten him a job with the World Health Organization in a week was working a cash register in Bridgeport. Two refugees claimed to be from, respectively, Zambia and Tanzania, countries without war or persecution that could justify asylum. (The refugees had almost certainly claimed different nationalities in their application for asylum.) Another said she was from the Democratic Republic of the Congo—a major generator of refugees—but spoke languages that suggested origin in the now relatively safe country of Rwanda. It was as if the center had sent me a dozen jigsaw puzzles, all with either missing pieces or extra ones.
All of the refugees were qualified to clean my house. (The doctor was overqualified, and I wondered whether I should be cleaning his.) But detail after detail hoisted my eyebrows. An asylum officer had heard each story—or some variant of it—and judged the claimant credible enough to welcome him into the United States. For my part, it was hard not to conclude that most of the stories were shot through with lies.
A lot of refugees are simply economic migrants. Some others are genuine refugees in that folks back home in, say, Rwanda might have it in for you. But that isn’t always because they hate you in the abstract, sometimes it’s because they hate you personally, for say, hacking their mothers to death during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. (And there is usually some other country closer to your home country where you Retired Death Squad Leaders can more cheaply find refuge.)


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