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My New York Times Article Making the Moral and Strategic Case for Accepting Ukrainian Refugees – and Russian Migrants,too

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Ukrainian Refugees

Ukrainian refugees. Przemsyl, Poland.


The New York Times just published my article making the case for accepting Ukrainian refugees – and Russian migrants, as well. Here is an excerpt:

The United Nations reports that at least 1.5 million refugees have fled the fighting in Ukraine. Sadly, that figure is likely to grow.

To ease the suffering caused by Vladimir Putin’s invasion and strengthen our position against him, the United States should open its doors both to Ukrainian refugees fleeing the conflict and to Russians seeking to escape Mr. Putin’s tyranny.

There are several things we can do quickly: President Biden has taken a valuable first step by making Ukrainians in the United States eligible for temporary protected status, which will shield them from deportation and allow them to seek employment. But this measure applies only to those who arrived in the United States by March 1 and lasts only for 18 months (though that could be extended). He can also protect Ukrainian students in the United States by granting special student relief, which would make it easier for them to remain here. Further, he should grant parole status to newly arriving Ukrainian refugees, allowing them to remain in the United States….

In addition to taking in Ukrainian refugees, the United States and its allies should offer safe haven to Russians seeking to escape Mr. Putin’s oppressive regime. As the science writer and aerospace engineer Robert Zubrin explains, Russian emigration can help drain Mr. Putin’s “brains” by depriving his war machine of some of the scientific and technical expertise it relies on…

Expanded Russian emigration to the West would be a tremendous moral victory for the United States and other liberal democracies. During the Cold War, America welcomed refugees from the U.S.S.R., Cuba and other Communist nations in part for this very reason…. An open door to Russian immigrants would also be a powerful signal that we do not regard the people of Russia as our enemies — undercutting a pillar of Mr. Putin’s domestic propaganda…..

The latter part of the article addresses various possible objections, including security concerns, claims that emigration would weaken domestic opposition to Putin’s regime, and arguments that it is unjust to open the door to Ukrainians and Russians, but not to people fleeing comparable violence and oppression elsewhere. The latter objection has some validity, but the right way to address it is  by leveling up, not leveling down: liberalize policies towards other migrants, not bar Russians and Ukrainians.

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