United States Institute of Peace

International Network for Economics and Conflict

Migration as a Tool for Disaster Recovery: A Case Study on U.S. Policy Options for Post-Earthquake Haiti

Written by Royce Bernstein Murray and Sarah Petrin Williamson

Allowing victims of natural disaster to migrate can play a critical role in the recovery of the affected country, but the United States has no system that allows for this type of assistance. Victims of natural disasters do not qualify as refugees under U.S. or international law, and migration policies toward those fleeing disasters are haphazard and tightly constrained. In this paper, with a foreword by Michael Clemens, Murray and Williamson explore the legal means by which this could change to make migration an inexpensive tool among many for post-disaster assistance.

The authors focus on Haiti, but their conclusions apply to other disasters and those yet to come. The proposed policy would not open the gates to all, but rather seek to identify those most in need of protection and provide a legal channel for entry and integration into American life.

View the paper here.