What to do with refugees?

Doug Saunders considers refugee policy and calls for an international solution.

What Lamey proposes is to internationalize Canada’s approach and expand it. He calls it a “portable-procedural” system by which “lawmakers could relocate asylum applicants to a sufficiently rights-respecting third country,” which would “thereby break the vicious circle of unfounded claims and ever-lengthening determination times within a particular state.” This system, he argues, would avoid situations like the ones facing Italy now or Germany in the 1990s, where a constitutional guarantee causes an enormous flood of illegitimate claims. Such a flood would likely stop, he posits, if claimants understood they could be relocated. To safeguard claimants’ rights in the country where they first land, Lamey proposes three non-negotiable requirements: the timely right to a full hearing, right to legal counsel and a prohibition on arbitrary detention.

… Lest we forget how our ancestors got here, and what they were very often fleeing, we ought to step above the headlines and start talking to our neighbours about something like Lamey’s proposal. As Zaiotti’s study suggests, Lamey’s ideas may not be as politically plausible as they look on paper, but there are good reasons to try. It seems odd that we are able to build multinational coalitions of armies with record speed to strike blows against tyranny on the other side of the world, but we are unable to join forces with our neighbours, at far less cost, to do some- thing about the boatloads of people fleeing those very same tyrannies. It is time for a coalition of the welcoming.

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