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.
Barriers to emigration cost the world economy much more than all remaining barriers to the international movement of goods and capital combined, but they are given little attention by economists. Michael Clemens writes that they deserve a much higher research priority and sketches a four-point research agenda.
This policy brief explores the various legal channels through which the U.S. government could leverage the power of migration to help provide disaster relief.
Migration as a Tool for Disaster Recovery: A Case Study on U.S. Policy Options for Post-Earthquake Haiti - Working Paper 255
This paper explores the legal means by which victims of natural disasters could qualify as refugees and thus benefit from the power of migration as a tool for disaster recovery.