A once unthinkable proposal for refugee camps

Rather than settling refugees in Western countries to live alongside their citizens, which will tolerate a population far smaller than the total number of people in danger, he favors building permanent, closed refugee camps on Western soil that accommodate anyone who wants to come. Refugees would have the right to move to another refugee camp or return to their home country, but would not have the right to enter the host country. Governments would draw a bright line distinguishing refugees from migrants.

Some critics liken permanent camps to putting refugees in prison and find the notion of segregating refugees in such places to be morally noxious. Others point to the dismal conditions in many camps past and present, and doubt that future camps would be any better. Even Ireland’s comparatively generous Direct Provision program, in which refugees are semi-segregated in relatively high-quality housing, may immiserate residents by trapping them in limbo rather than letting them begin a new life in a new community, as Masha Gessen illustrates in a perhaps overcritical dispatch in The New Yorker.

Still, the status quo is so horrific that Kaufmann’s alternative merits a hearing.