The United States should take modest steps to create a legal channel for limited numbers of people fleeing natural disasters overseas to enter the United States. This would address two related problems: the lack of any systematic U.S. policy to help the growing numbers of people displaced across borders by natural disasters and the inability of U.S. humanitarian relief efforts to reduce systemic poverty or sustainably improve victims’ livelihoods. The aftermath of the 2010 Haiti earthquake presents a compelling case study of the administrative and legislative ways the U.S. government could address both problems. Migration is already a proven and powerful force for reducing Haitians’ poverty. A few modest changes in the U.S. approach could greatly aid Haiti’s recovery.
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