• The Jourbinas, USA

    A Family Fights Deportation

    The Jourbinas went underground when they realized there was no way for them to gain legal status. One day immigration officers arrived to try to deport the family. All four have been fighting for recognition from the U.S. government ever since.

  • Miliyon, 41, USA

    No Hope But Detention

    Miliyon was stripped of his Ethiopian citizenship after protesting his fathers deportation to Eritrea. He decided to flee the country, leaving his family behind. The U.S. were supposed to be his safe haven, but soon he had to realize: He did not only loose his citizenship on the way, he may also loose his freedom.

  • USA

    The Samoans

    When the United States colonized American Samoa at the beginning of the 20th century it left the locals with no citizenship at all. Today American Samoans are considered to be U.S. “nationals” but not citizens.

  • Maria Jakab, 17, Poland

    Born Stateless

    Maria Jakab was born and raised in Poland, but her foster parents had to fight a fifteen-year legal battle for her to receive citizenship.

  • Mikhail Sebastian, 40, USA

    Vacation Gone Wrong

    A brief trip to a South Pacific island and a weird quirk in U.S. immigration nearly left Mikhail Sebastian stuck forever. Back on the mainland, there is still no way out.

  • Said Alnahawi, 29, Germany

    Life as a Ghost

    His father is from Palestine, his mother from Syria – but Said Alnahawi has no nationality whatsoever. Like thousands of ethnic Palestinians around the European Union, he has become a legal ghost. Palestine doesn’t accept him as citizen nor does the country he grew up in - Syria. And Germany doesn’t do a thing to help him out of his despair.

  • Tatianna Lesnikova, 65, USA

    A Son Left Behind

    Citizens of no-longer-existing countries like the Soviet Union are among the most common examples of stateless people today. Tatianna Lesnikova came to the United States hoping to find a better life and eventually send for her son. Now she fears she will die without seeing him again.

  • Thomas Eshaya, 42, Greece

    Hiding in Plain Sight

    For many stateless people, living in the shadows is a common thing. Thomas Eshaya spent 30 years in hiding. In the end his lack of nationality became his pathway to citizenship.


Right now there are people in your country, in your community and possibly on your street who are living in hiding with no ties or protection from any government. They are the stateless and we think their cause deserves a voice.

Many stateless are living in hiding with little hope, stuck in limbo. Without citizenship from any country they often cannot work, own property, seek health care or turn to the law for protection. While Western nations have been some of the loudest voices calling for the abolition of statelessness, they have allowed it to fester in their own backyards. Hundreds of thousands of stateless people live in the United States and Europe.

They move among us like shadows but they will never be like us, not unless citizens and governments move to act. That’s what this project is about. Over the coming months, Stateless Voices will introduce you to the stateless people of the United States and the European Union.