A lot of human activity is stupid. I'm presuming that terran planets, at least, have some form of democratic government. It think it's even likely - even before the NTF inspired successions, the old GTA had splintered in the post-war era, and I see no reason why there wouldn't be some latent nationalism. You just have to look around, after all, to see things like the US turning back the St. Louis in 1939, or more recently Italy turning away refugee boats from Libya (or just, in general, the very hash attitudes in many first world countries towards asylum seekers).
Which discuss actual national divisions which do not exist under BETAC. All power outside the GTVA itself in Terran space has been dissolved; there is no one to turn them back and no way to justify it legally as all parties have but one citizenship and answer to but one authority. It is impossible to create the sort of legal fictions these things rely on.
Wait, is this detailed ingame? I haven't read or played FS for quite some time, so I'm mostly going by vague memory here.
My impression of BETAC was that the given details of it were concerned with the interstellar aspects; the discussion of how planetary governance worked was (understandably) absent. In my view, and I don't think it's contradicted anywhere, the GTVA was akin to a interstellar government with a hierarchical organization, where systems, planets and indeed individual colonies/cities/even possible installations had some form of quasi-autonomous democracy. Such that these local governments could have serious issues with housing refugees if the local population objected.
(If the British government, for example, decided to house a few tens of thousands of Afghan refugees to a specific county, there'd be substantial problems - even though that's not a fully independent nor self-reliant region)
Even if there is no legal
way to turn back refugees, too, there is no legal way to actually force a population (as far as I'm aware) to perform activities necessary to accept and support them.
We know, for example, what was considered decent ante to invade one (under 500,000), and we know that Capella contained under 100 million people
I don't think the invasion numbers are particularly useful; it's not clear how heavily populated Cygnus Prime was (other than a figure of 200,000 refugees, which puts a lower bound), what the defenses were on the ground, whether the NTF occupiers had air support and were well bed in (or were vulnerable and exposed), etc. I mean, France WW2 and Iraq 2003 are about the same size, I think, in population - but had drastically different requirements for invasion (Iraq had theoretically many more defenders, for example).
'Densely populated' Capella is over 250mn population, BTW - "Command has begun the process of evacuating the two hundred fifty million civilians inhabiting Capella, the largest exodus since the Great War."
. I can't find any reference to how many actually made it out, though - beyond 'Thousands of civilians await evacuation'
(tens? hundreds? less?) in Clash of the Titans 2. I'm not sure whether it's densely populated in terms of living space in the system, or in relation to other colonies, or what. Possibly implies they haven't developed terraforming yet, though.
But then again, I don't think it's about space. Because we have real world examples that show living-space is one of the least important considerations when it comes to admitting refugees.
These are very small numbers in relation to space on a planetary scale. By contrast, however, they are absolutely huge numbers when compared to maintaining a spaceborne population indefinitely. Food, water, and fuel require storage and replenishment. A human under normal circumstances requires, conservatively (very conservatively), approximately a half-ton of consumable material a week. Generating all of it fresh as is required to sustain a population long-term will chew up a whole lot of space in farming and mining and refining and preparation and manufacturing. Planets have space. Starships don't.
And you think that living on a spaceship requires growing consumables on it? Orions seemed to manage long term deployments.
(of course, it'd be piss-easy to invent something suitably sci-fish regarding food and water; in the latter case there could be tonnes of it available in frozen form anyways, and who knows whether or not some of that is already being harvested for shipping, desert colonies, etc. I don't think fuel is an issue - aren't FS spaceships using cold fusion as a power source? Just that none of these need be stumbling blocks in a fictional universe)
You seem to hold that it's either landing people on a planet, or abandoning them entirely. My opinion is that it's perfectly possible for the GTVA to be helping these people even when the locals are getting pissy about actually accepting and (critically) housing them on-planet.
Selling food (etc) to people somewhere else (planetary or otherwise) is an opportunity; even if the GTVA central government is making it close-to-cost price. Housing them, though, makes them a liability and a burden.
Considering the nature of the Capella evacuation for that matter, many of the people involved will be aboard craft that will suffer mass famine or run out of water in under a week, perhaps even under a day, if forced to try and support the population they're currently carrying. Offloading them is not an optional matter.
It is for those who would receive them.
You don't have to send them all to one place, as you seem to assume.
I didn't assume it would be a single place, I assumed that human nature would be similar across planets in the same way it is across first world countries today - that people don't like taking in and paying
for refugees. I will admit to making the assumption that colonies - or specifically ones in perfect earth-like worlds - are relatively rare, and that it would require an existing colony to resettle refugees (rather than creating a whole new one).
However the basic truth remains, and you remain ignoring it: none of these things can be done aboard a spacecraft, they can on a planetary surface. The assertion of a post-war economy is suspect, as the GTVA did not believe it could crush Bosch under the weight of its production capabilities and did not appear to try, and the Shivan invasion did not last long enough for a war economy to take hold. It is more likely that the "war economy" has just started as the game ends, with the GTVA gearing up to replace its losses and otherwise going full-paranoid.
They can be done on a planetary surface if the locals allow it
. What's going to happen if the population of a colony refuse to build new housing, divert foodstuffs, etc to convert a refugee camp to a proper habitable zone?
I mean, I think I would agree in some cases it's a lot more difficult to put a bunch of people in an isolated location, feed them, water them, treat them, than just incorporate them into your existing society. And yet Australia has Christmas Island.
I'm not going to debate on whether a war economy is more likely or not, because I think it's something that is completely open how the GTVA will react to the Shivan attack, and I don't see any evidence either way (we don't even know the material losses in either war, in a planetary or fleet scale). I'd disagree that there is any 'more likely' scenario.
Housing is unlikely to pose a challenge to the engineering means available. It is the raw materials you consume eating, breathing, and drinking that represent the fixed challenge which cannot be altered.
What engineering means are available? As we're talking about assumptions here... you think it's simple to construct the required small city for, say, 100,000 refugees. I think it might be quite difficult.
I'm not saying this is what must happen. I'm saying this is IMO a justifiable scenario, whether you find it 'hilarious' or not.
If a bunch of people chime and say 'no aldo, you're full of pish' then I will happily drop it from future consideration in any plans I make. If they don't, I will continue to hold it as an interesting setting and option.
EDIT (did you add this or did I miss it before?);
Shipping this stuff in from outside is in no way economically feasible for a long-term population that's not producing something for export. The space-borne refugees will all run out of air or water or food pretty quickly, or someone will realize it's costing more to send the mountain to Muhammed than it is to bring them to the mountain eventually. Take your pick.
I'm not viewing them as a self-sustaining fleet. I'm viewing them as a transient refugee population, where governmental charity is mixed in with black market crime. It may be far, far more expensive for a central government to treat them this way, but it doesn't entail either that the populations of individual colonies will want to take on the cost (even of a subset). My view of how easy - or not - it is to rehouse refugees in sane conditions is obviously different to yours in this respect.