Should we take in the Rohingya?

Should we take in the Rohingya? February 4, 2018

This is really just a question for open discussion, but consider that, when it comes to the whole current debate about how we balance high-skilled immigrants vs. or immigrants who have existing extended family here, the “pro-low-skilled immigration” side generally says that, basically, it’s a “what would Emma Lazarus do?” issue, that it is the particular mission of the United States to take in the most desperate rather than those who are comparatively better-off and would be fine in their home country.  (And, yes, the “chain migration” debate isn’t really about whether we should prioritize would-immigrants with extended family here but what place there should be for the unskilled and uneducated; after all, otherwise, an easy compromise would be to give priority to those who meet both criteria — would-be immigrants who have learned some English, are literate, and have a tertiary education or a skilled trade.)

But if the dispute is about whether we’re meeting the mission of helping the needy through the opportunity to immigrate, why are we giving advantages to the needy from Mexico or from Central America, either through chain migration preferences or through calls for legalization of illegal immigrants from those countries or the making-permanent of temporary statuses?  Yes, Honduras or El Salvador have troubles with gang violence.  But the displaced Rohingya, in refugee camps in Bangladesh, some 700,000 in number, are in a far worse state:  they are unwanted by Bangladesh, but, even though Myanmar has promised to repatriate them and has pledged that they will be safe, those refugees refuse the offer, quite understandably so, as the Myanmar government has previously denied having committed any atrocities in the first place.

The U.S. government takes in (provides green cards for) about 1 million authorized immigrants per year.  What if we paused all of the various immigration programs for long enough to just send out 700,000 green cards to resettle the Rohingya?

Arguments, pro and con, in the comments, please!


Image:; Tasnim News Agency [CC BY 4.0 ( or CC BY 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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