Providing a Haven for Refugees: An Alternative to U.S. Military Intervention in the Balkans

April 12, 1993 • Foreign Policy Briefing No. 23
By Jeffrey R. Gerlach

This study proposes that the United States open its borders to refugees from the fighting in the former Yugoslavia. It denounces as inhumane the current policy of the United States, the European Community, and the United Nations of compelling would‐​be refugees to remain in their devastated homeland as pawns to thwart Serbian territorial objectives. It also points out that even if a political solution to the current round of fighting can be found, many of the displaced people will not want to return home because of well‐​founded fears that they will become victims of revenge slayings and other forms of persecution.

The author shows how the United States would benefit economically from admitting Yugoslavian refugees while helping to defuse tensions in the Balkans. Social and economic “nativist” arguments against a liberal immigration policy are examined and refuted. The study concludes that providing a haven for refugees would be more cost‐​effective and far less dangerous than using military force in a futile attempt to impose a settlement to the Yugoslavian conflict.

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About the Author
Jeffrey R. Gerlach, a Washington‐​based writer, was formerly a foreign policy analyst with the Cato Institute.