Driven from their homes by war and persecution, refugees from such countries as Somalia, Burundi, Bhutan, Iraq, Ethiopia, and Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) have been, with great hope and some difficulty, relocating to the United States for years. According to the Department of Homeland Security, more than 56,000 refugees were admitted to this country in 2011. For many, their first experience of America is a night at an airport hotel.
Back in 2007, photographer Gabriele Stabile, himself a transplant from Italy, undertook to document that first frightening and confusing night. For four years, he visited airports in New York, Newark, Chicago, Miami, and Los Angeles, and reached out to the refugees he met there. “Refugee Hotel,” a book by Stabile and journalist Juliet Linderman, is an up-close, sometimes raw evocation of the refugee experience here, published by McSweeney’s Books as part of its Voice of Witness nonprofit wing focused on social justice issues.