The Corner

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Tsunami of Refugees?


Natural disasters like the tsunami don’t usually lead to large-scale refugee flows to developed countries — no one in Sri Lanka, surveying the ruins of his house and family, says to himself, “I need to move to Schenectady.” So, although the federal government is likely to grant a short-term reprieve from deportation to illegal aliens from the affected areas (known in the jargon as Temporary Protected Status), there just aren’t that many immigrants here, legal or illegal, from Sri Lanka or Indonesia.

Canada, on the other hand, has a large Sri Lankan population and has just announced that tsunami victims with relatives in Canada will be admitted. As humanitarian as this may seem, it is the most inefficient use imaginable of disaster relief funds, since hundreds could be helped in South Asia for the cost of one plane ticket to Canada.