Never enough for both

I was thinking this morning about what it must be like to be my husband: a white English person who has never had his right to be in the country of his birth questioned. Within living memory, his family has probably never asked themselves: what happens if this country becomes no longer safe for us? How much notice will we have? How quickly could we get out? What would we do about grandma?

As a middle/upper middle class Chinese Malaysian, I have a lot of privilege. One thing I’ve never had, though, is certainty of a welcome where I am. My dad told me something about China once that really stuck in my head:

“Living in Malaysia is like renting a house,” he said. “In China you would own your house. But you get used to renting.”

His grandparents died in Malaysia; his grandchildren were born there. He’s still renting.

I can’t have a “healthy debate” about immigration. This is impossible for me. My personal history is too full of migration, flux, movement. Getting out while the going is good. Carving out a home on hostile terrain. But I know where I’m from and I know where I’m going, and I know where my loyalties lie: with the dispossessed, the roving, the eternally hopeful, their eyes fixed on a distant ever-moving point.

International
Medecins Sans Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders (MSF)
UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR)
International Rescue Committee

Europe
Migrant Offshore Aid Station

UK
Safe Passage
British Red Cross Refugee Support
Women for Refugee Women
Detention Action

Malaysia
Asylum Access Malaysia
UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in Malaysia
Malaysia Pro Bono Directory (lists organisations which offer legal and other support to refugees in Malaysia)

USA
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)

The title of this post is from Ijeoma Umebinyou’s Diaspora Blues.

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