Across the country, near-record numbers of displaced families are pouring back, but instead of kindling a much-needed reconciliation they are in some cases reviving the resentments and suspicions created by bloody purges that carved Iraq into archipelagos of Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds after the American-led 2003 invasion.In 2011, the number of returnees to Iraq soared by 120 percent from a year earlier, to 260,690, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. They were drawn back by improving security and larger government payments to Iraqis registering as returnees. It was the most since 2004, when the fall of Saddam Hussein opened the gates for thousands who had fled his brutality, forced relocations and a decade of crushing sanctions.
As they continue to come home, they will test whether Iraq can move beyond a sectarian prism that distorts its politics and undercuts its security.
Back here in the US, an Iraqi immigrant was brutally murdered in her home in San Diego County, in the neighborhood highlighted in the essay on Iraqi Chaldeans that is in Chapter 12 of my 11th edition, although it appears that she was Muslim, not Christian. The death is being treated as a hate crime because a note near her body said "go back to your country, you terrorist."
And my son, Greg, blogged today about the ridiculous behavior of officials in a small town in Texas who have spent $5 million unsuccessfully defending their attempt to keep immigrants from renting homes in their community--all because they claimed that undocumented immigrants cost the city too much!
But, if you want to put numbers into perspective--irrespective of the human misery (or triumph--that happens, too) that may lie behind them, I refer you to a new set of migration maps prepared by the Migration Policy Institute--there's a lot of food for thought there.