3 thoughts on “We do send people back to their death and you can expect more such stories under this administration

  1. That’s certainly true. But buried in the frame of the story is a deep policy question: Is the United States a universal refuge from misfortune for people, or may it admit people more or less as a business hires people, based on what is good for those already there? There is lower bound on admitting people because it’s good for *them*, the refugee treaty, but it’s quite narrow on the sorts of misfortune people that give people the right of admission; basically you have to be part of a *group* of a certain type that is collectively persecuted, personal or ubiquitous misfortune doesn’t count.

    Progressives seem to me to usually assume the “universal refuge” model without explicitly stating it or arguing for it. Most of the rest of the population has attitudes that are closer to current policy. And I suspect because the progressives won’t openly advocate for their position, the progressives lose the argument.

    But of course, unless you adopt the universal refuge model, or the entire world becomes industrialized, there will always be people we deport to a substantial risk of death.

  2. It has always seemed to me that some sort of international arrangement was necessary (or, at least, would be very helpful). The recently agreed UN compact on migration (see, e.g., https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/10/world/europe/un-migration-deal-morocco.html) isn’t what I had in mind. Rather, it should be among the refugee receiving countries (and exclude the refugee producing countries) and affirm that a genuine refugee has the right to refuge but not to refuge in a particular country. My imagined pact would set up a quota system based on the ability to absorb refugees (e.g., GDP, population growth or decline, possibly average age of population, etc.) and then whenever someone applied for asylum or refugee status anywhere, they would be assigned a country at random under the quota system and sent there. Exceptions could be made for existing family ties and possibly for language ability. It would be a boon for the airline industry but possibly worth it by making clear that you might as well apply at the first country you reach rather than try to reach a more desirable country. It would also require greater harmonization of asylum law so that the luck of the draw doesn’t wind up determining the outcome of the case. Possibly an international appellate panel. Of course, this is fantasy and I recognize this fact. Just a thought experiment.

    • Way too sensible to be enacted of course. Among the other difficulties is coming up with a harmonized standard that several dozen (at least) countries could agree on. I suspect that would be close to the existing asylum treaty. Thinking about that, that’s probably a significantly tighter standard than the US uses today (judging by the current news) And to make it work, all the countries have to hold the same line. Which completely rules out Merkel’s act of mercy. (The latter could arguably be blamed for the current wave of illiberal governments in Europe, and Brexit, too.) So we’d still be sending lots of people back to their deaths.

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