100 books like Wretched Refuse?

By Alex Nowrasteh, Benjamin Powell,

Here are 100 books that Wretched Refuse? fans have personally recommended if you like Wretched Refuse?. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Ethics of Immigration

Ilya Somin Author Of Free to Move: Foot Voting, Migration, and Political Freedom

From my list on migration rights and democracy.

Why am I passionate about this?

Ilya Somin is a Professor of Law at George Mason University. He is the author of Free to Move: Foot Voting, Migration, and Political Freedom, Democracy and Political Ignorance: Why Smaller Government is Smarter, and The Grasping Hand: Kelo v. City of New London, and the Limits of Eminent Domain. Somin has also published articles in a variety of popular press outlets, including The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, CNN, The Atlantic, and USA Today. He is a regular contributor to the popular Volokh Conspiracy law and politics blog, affiliated with Reason.

Ilya's book list on migration rights and democracy

Ilya Somin Why did Ilya love this book?

This is the single best book on the political philosophy of immigration. Canadian political philosopher Joseph Carens makes a wide-ranging philosophical defense of  “open borders” migration rights – not just from the standpoint of some one particular political theory, but from that of many. Whether you are a free-market libertarian, an egalitarian liberal, or a moderate, Carens has a case to make to you. He also has compelling responses to a variety of objections. A key strength of the book is that Carens defends his seemingly radical conclusion based on relatively uncontroversial premises of liberty and equality that are widely accepted by supporters of liberal democracy around the world.

By Joseph H. Carens,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Ethics of Immigration as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In The Ethics of Immigration, Joseph Carens synthesizes a lifetime of work to explore and illuminate one of the most pressing issues of our time. Immigration poses practical problems for western democracies and also challenges the ways in which people in democracies think about citizenship and belonging, about rights and responsibilities, and about freedom and equality.

Carens begins by focusing on current immigration controversies in North America and Europe about access to citizenship, the integration of immigrants, temporary workers, irregular migrants and the admission of family members and refugees. Working within the moral framework provided by liberal democratic values, he…


Book cover of Open Borders: The Science and Ethics of Immigration

Ilya Somin Author Of Free to Move: Foot Voting, Migration, and Political Freedom

From my list on migration rights and democracy.

Why am I passionate about this?

Ilya Somin is a Professor of Law at George Mason University. He is the author of Free to Move: Foot Voting, Migration, and Political Freedom, Democracy and Political Ignorance: Why Smaller Government is Smarter, and The Grasping Hand: Kelo v. City of New London, and the Limits of Eminent Domain. Somin has also published articles in a variety of popular press outlets, including The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, CNN, The Atlantic, and USA Today. He is a regular contributor to the popular Volokh Conspiracy law and politics blog, affiliated with Reason.

Ilya's book list on migration rights and democracy

Ilya Somin Why did Ilya love this book?

Before reading this book, I would never have believed that you can effectively address an important political issue by writing a… graphic novel. But economist Bryan Caplan did just that. Whereas Carens’ book makes a philosophical case for open borders, Caplan excels at addressing a variety of practical policy issues. With a combination of eloquent words and powerful images, he shows how immigration can greatly expand freedom and prosperity for migrants and natives alike. He also effectively goes over a wide range of potential downsides of immigration, such as overburdening the welfare state, environmental damage, and much else. 

By Bryan Caplan, Zach Weinersmith (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Open Borders as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Economist Bryan Caplan makes a bold case for unrestricted immigration in this fact-filled graphic nonfiction.

American policy-makers have long been locked in a heated battle over whether, how many, and what kind of immigrants to allow to live and work in the country. Those in favor of welcoming more immigrants often cite humanitarian reasons, while those in favor of more restrictive laws argue the need to protect native citizens.

But economist Bryan Caplan adds a new, compelling perspective to the immigration debate: He argues that opening all borders could eliminate absolute poverty worldwide and usher in a booming worldwide economy--greatly…


Book cover of Strangers in Our Midst: The Political Philosophy of Immigration

Ilya Somin Author Of Free to Move: Foot Voting, Migration, and Political Freedom

From my list on migration rights and democracy.

Why am I passionate about this?

Ilya Somin is a Professor of Law at George Mason University. He is the author of Free to Move: Foot Voting, Migration, and Political Freedom, Democracy and Political Ignorance: Why Smaller Government is Smarter, and The Grasping Hand: Kelo v. City of New London, and the Limits of Eminent Domain. Somin has also published articles in a variety of popular press outlets, including The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, CNN, The Atlantic, and USA Today. He is a regular contributor to the popular Volokh Conspiracy law and politics blog, affiliated with Reason.

Ilya's book list on migration rights and democracy

Ilya Somin Why did Ilya love this book?

I don’t agree with most of this book. But nonetheless it's a must-read for anyone who wants a great overview and defense of standard arguments to the effect that nation-state governments should enjoy broad power to exclude potential migrants. Miller puts the case well, and it’s easily grasped by experts and laypeople alike.

By David Miller,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Strangers in Our Midst as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How should Western democracies respond to the many millions of people who want to settle in their societies? Economists and human rights advocates tend to downplay the considerable cultural and demographic impact of immigration on host societies. Seeking to balance the rights of immigrants with the legitimate concerns of citizens, Strangers in Our Midst brings a bracing dose of realism to this debate. David Miller defends the right of democratic states to control their borders and decide upon the future size, shape, and cultural make-up of their populations.

"A cool dissection of some of the main moral issues surrounding immigration…


Book cover of Immigration and Democracy

Michael Blake Author Of Justice, Migration, and Mercy

From my list on understanding what’s happening at the border.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a political philosopher who lives in Seattle. I teach and write about political ethics, and the ways in which moral concepts change when they get applied to the relationships between states—and to the complicated borders that define where states end. I tend to write about what puzzles me, and many of these puzzles come from my personal life; I’m a migrant myself, and the experience of migrating to the United States led me to write about what sorts of values a country can rightly pursue through migration policyand what sorts of things, more generally, it can and can’t do to migrants themselves.  

Michael's book list on understanding what’s happening at the border

Michael Blake Why did Michael love this book?

Sarah Song is a lawyer and political scientist, and her book traces the history of American migration lawwith a particular focus on how that history reflects both anxiety about foreign influence, and fear that migrants will disrupt the domestic labor market. It’s a fascinating story, and it’s instructive to see how modern conversations about the border mirrorfor better or for worse - the conversations that happened over a century ago.

By Sarah Song,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Immigration and Democracy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How should we think about immigration and what policies should democratic societies pursue? Sarah Song offers a political theory of immigration that takes seriously both the claims of receiving countries and the claims of prospective migrants.

Immigration is one of the most polarizing issues in contemporary politics. It raises questions about identity, economic well-being, the legitimacy of state power, and the boundaries of membership and justice. How should we think about immigration and what policies should democratic societies pursue?

Some contend that borders should generally be open and people should be free to migrate in search of better lives. Others…


Book cover of American Gulag: Inside U.S. Immigration Prisons

Nancy Hiemstra Author Of Detain and Deport: The Chaotic U.S. Immigration Enforcement Regime

From my list on why the U.S. has the biggest immigration detention system.

Why am I passionate about this?

I first became aware of harms of immigration enforcement policies while volunteering to tutor kids of undocumented migrant farmworkers in the 1990s. Through a variety of jobs in the U.S. and Latin America, my eyes were opened to reasons driving people to migrate and challenges immigrants face. I eventually went to graduate school in Geography to study local to transnational reverberations of immigration policies. A project in Ecuador where I helped families of people detained in the U.S. led me to realize how huge, cruel, and ineffective U.S. immigration detention is. I hope these books help you break through myths about detention and make sense of the chaos.

Nancy's book list on why the U.S. has the biggest immigration detention system

Nancy Hiemstra Why did Nancy love this book?

Unfortunately, the word “gulag” is all too apt for describing U.S. carceral systems.

While this book came out nearly twenty years ago, I picked it because its gut-wrenching descriptions of what goes on inside U.S. immigration facilities still reflect contemporary reality.

Journalist Mark Dow draws on interviews with detainees, guards, and immigration officials to document the atrocious material conditions, violations of human rights, and abuses routinely experienced by detainees.

He details how guards are conditioned to treat all detainees as criminals, regardless of who they are, and how using private companies helps shield facilities from scrutiny and accountability. Given the horrors revealed in this book, it is especially alarming that the detention system has more than doubled since its publication.

By Mark Dow,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked American Gulag as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Before September 11, 2001, few Americans had heard of immigration detention, but in fact a secret and repressive prison system run by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service has existed in this country for more than two decades. In "American Gulag", prisoners, jailers, and whistle-blowing federal officials come forward to describe the frightening reality inside these INS facilities. Journalist Mark Dow's on-the-ground reporting brings to light documented cases of illegal beatings and psychological torment, prolonged detention, racism, and inhumane conditions. Intelligent, impassioned, and unlike anything that has been written on the topic, this gripping work of investigative journalism should be…


Book cover of The Next Great Migration: The Beauty and Terror of Life on the Move

Glenda R. Carpio Author Of Migrant Aesthetics: Contemporary Fiction, Global Migration, and the Limits of Empathy

From my list on migration, migrant lives, and how they shape our common world.

Why am I passionate about this?

I embody the “American Dream” mythology: I came to the United States as a child who did not speak English and had few means. And now I am the Chair of the English Department at Harvard. But I am the exception, not the rule. So many migrants die on perilous journeys or survive only to live marginal lives under surveillance. Yet we don’t always ask why people risk their lives and those of their children to migrate. And when we do, we don’t often go beyond the first layer of answers. The list of books I recommend allows us to think deeply about the roots of forced migration.

Glenda's book list on migration, migrant lives, and how they shape our common world

Glenda R. Carpio Why did Glenda love this book?

Drawing on a wide range of research, Shah counteracts the common assumption that contemporary human and nonhuman migrations represent an unprecedented global crisis.

She reframes migration as a biological and cultural necessity that has been a crucial part of human history and shows how it has been fueled by such factors as economic inequality, politics, nationalism, colonialism, etc. I learned so much from this meticulously researched, yet highly readable book.

I love how it asks readers to consider migration and its history from multiple perspectives and that it can help us think and prepare for an increase of migration due to climate change.

By Sonia Shah,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Next Great Migration as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Finalist for the 2021 PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award
A Library Journal Best Science & Technology Book of 2020
A Publishers Weekly Best Nonfiction Book of 2020
2020 Goodreads Choice Award Semifinalist in Science & Technology

A prize-winning journalist upends our centuries-long assumptions about migration through science, history, and reporting--predicting its lifesaving power in the face of climate change.

The news today is full of stories of dislocated people on the move. Wild species, too, are escaping warming seas and desiccated lands, creeping, swimming, and flying in a mass exodus from their past habitats. News media presents this scrambling…


Book cover of Who Gets In: An Immigration Story

David S. Koffman Author Of No Better Home?: Jews, Canada, and the Sense of Belonging

From my list on Canadian Jewish life.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born and raised as both an anglophone Canadian and a diaspora Jew. After living in Montreal, Jerusalem, and New York for a total of about 15 years, I returned to my hometown of Toronto and took up the position of the J. Richard Shiff Chair for the Study of Canadian Jewry at York University, where I work as a professor of history. I teach undergraduate students, graduate students, fellow academics, community leaders, and the wide public about all sorts of dimensions of this very religiously diverse, culturally diverse, socio-economically diverse, and politically diverse community of 400,000+ souls, with its 260+-year-old history. 

David's book list on Canadian Jewish life

David S. Koffman Why did David love this book?

Ravvin has written excellent works of fiction and literary scholarship. His book is a masterful blend of two genres: family biography and social history.

I found this book to be so engrossing I could barely put it down. It traces the author’s grandfather’s dogged saga to emigrate from Poland to Canada, to find some mooring amidst the precarity of being a new immigrant, a foreigner, and a Jew, and to try desperately to bring over his wife during a time when Canada’s immigration gates were closing.

I love this book’s ability to seamlessly alternate between deep archives-based history (how did the immigration labyrinth actually work and why was it designed that way?) and personal/ancestral memoir (what was it like for one human–of existential consequence for the author–to navigate that labyrinth?).

It's a remarkable story of one immigrant crisscrossing the country in the era that immediately preceded the much more frequently…

By Norman Ravvin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Who Gets In as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One man's immigration to the Canadian Prairies in the early 1930s reveals the character of Canada today as sharply as it did long ago. In 1930, a young Jewish man, Yehuda Eisenstein, arrived in Canada from Poland to escape persecution and in the hopes of starting a new life for himself and his young family. Like countless other young European men who came to Canada from "non-preferred" countries, Yehuda was only granted entry because he claimed to be single, starting his Canadian life with a lie. He trusted that his wife and children would be able to follow after he…


Book cover of This Land Is Our Land: An Immigrant's Manifesto

Glenda R. Carpio Author Of Migrant Aesthetics: Contemporary Fiction, Global Migration, and the Limits of Empathy

From my list on migration, migrant lives, and how they shape our common world.

Why am I passionate about this?

I embody the “American Dream” mythology: I came to the United States as a child who did not speak English and had few means. And now I am the Chair of the English Department at Harvard. But I am the exception, not the rule. So many migrants die on perilous journeys or survive only to live marginal lives under surveillance. Yet we don’t always ask why people risk their lives and those of their children to migrate. And when we do, we don’t often go beyond the first layer of answers. The list of books I recommend allows us to think deeply about the roots of forced migration.

Glenda's book list on migration, migrant lives, and how they shape our common world

Glenda R. Carpio Why did Glenda love this book?

This is a heart-felt but infinitely well-researched book that asks us to go beyond the usual answers one might give to the question of why migrants risk everything and leave their homes (i.e., gang violence, climate change, war, hunger).

Instead, Mehta shows how colonial and neo-colonial forces have and continue to cause migration flows. People migrate, Mehta says, “because the accumulated burdens of history have rendered their homelands less and less habitable.”

As someone who had to leave a country that was thrust into a four-decade-long civil war because of American intervention (the CIA), I appreciate the clear-eye and convincing argument Mehta makes about contemporary migration: it is directly due to American and European political interests (i.e., the Cold War) and their extraction and theft of gold, silver, cash crops, and human beings from the Global South. And it is fueled by black market demands for drugs and arms that…

By Suketu Mehta,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked This Land Is Our Land as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An impassioned defence of global immigration from the acclaimed author of Maximum City.

Drawing on his family's own experience emigrating from India to Britain and America, and years of reporting around the world, Suketu Mehta subjects the worldwide anti-immigrant backlash to withering scrutiny. The West, he argues, is being destroyed not by immigrants but by the fear of immigrants. He juxtaposes the phony narratives of populist ideologues with the ordinary heroism of labourers, nannies and others, from Dubai to New York, and explains why more people are on the move today than ever before. As civil strife and climate change…


Book cover of The Arrival

Barbara Lehman Author Of The Red Book

From my list on wordless with surreal or magical realism elements.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love wordless books immoderately, and I also love books that have meta, surreal, or magical realism elements. This list combines these two features! I was personally so happy that The Red Book was described in a review as “a wordless mind trip for tots,” and I think all the books on this list would perfectly fit that description (and much, much more!) too.

Barbara's book list on wordless with surreal or magical realism elements

Barbara Lehman Why did Barbara love this book?

I will remain forever astonished at the epic feat of world-building in The Arrival. It thoroughly pulls me into an immersive experience where I am learning along with the main character how to navigate the new world into which he has immigrated. As he learns, we learn. I find myself so emotionally involved with his success in his hopeful new reality. The art is amazingly detailed and conveys the complex and richly visual world, yet also sets a strong emotional tone that brings us into the action.

By Shaun Tan,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked The Arrival as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

What drives so many to leave everything behind and journey alone to a mysterious country, a place without family or friends, where everything is nameless and the future is unknown. This silent graphic novel is the story of every migrant, every refugee, every displaced person, and a tribute to all those who have made the journey.

THE ARRIVAL has become one of the most critically acclaimed books of recent years, a wordless masterpiece that describes a world beyond any familiar time or place.

Sited as No 35 in The Times 100 Best Books of all time. It has sold over…


Book cover of Next Ship Home: A Novel of Ellis Island

Kathleen Boston McCune Author Of Assignment Love: The Writer and Her Agent

From my list on when needing excitement or the comfort of a caress.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a woman of four and seventy years who thankfully doesn’t yet resemble that person to those who haven’t met me. I'm a mother of two who both have their own businesses in the fields of their natural talents, I've been Deputy Treasurer to the State of Kansas, written 22 books but think younger than I did at 20, and am enjoying the best sex life to date! Life is precious and should not be limited to us based on our age, but on our interests, knowledge, and what we have to offer. Writing about that which I've experienced and the recorded history of family are my passions and hopefully for my readers as well.

Kathleen's book list on when needing excitement or the comfort of a caress

Kathleen Boston McCune Why did Kathleen love this book?

I personally enjoyed this book for the courage found by the Heroine in a world where women were considered 2nd class citizens, but she, through strength of character and love of a sister she loses due to illness and no monies to save her, gives her that impetus to forge ahead through unconventional, but effective ways and new friends of wealth in America. It could be called a Cinderella story with illegal immigrants as heroines.

A book of 1902, about a young woman who had been abused by her father to the point that a nun suggested she find refuge elsewhere. From Italy, she proceeds to save enough money to book passage with a ship for both herself and her younger sister who is already ill from similar abuse. She looks forward to Ellis Island, knowing she then will be on the safe harbor of America, until she learns that…

By Heather Webb,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Next Ship Home as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Ellis Island, 1902: Two women band together to hold America to its promise: "Give me your tired, your poor ... your huddled masses yearning to breathe free..."
A young Italian woman arrives on the shores of America, her sights set on a better life. That same day, a young American woman reports to her first day of work at the immigration center. But Ellis Island isn't a refuge for Francesca or Alma, not when ships depart every day with those who are refused entry to the country and when corruption ripples through every corridor. While Francesca resorts to desperate measures…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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