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How refugees have the power to change the society they join

What history can teach us about refugees. 

An Afghan refugee girl carries her brother at a refugee camp on the outskirts of Islamabad on February 1, 2018. (Photo: AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images)

In the late 17th century, small bands of refugees began making their way into Spanish Florida. At first, they arrived in small numbers, carrying little more than the clothes on their backs, and without generating much interest. The material demands they might place on the Spanish state were at best modest. Yet these refugees and their experience in Spanish Florida would raise nettlesome political questions. Refugees have a special power to unsettle political communities, one that far outstrips their claim on practical resources.

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