Join 3,427 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


So Where The Bloody Hell Are Ya?
June 15, 2010 5:34 PM   Subscribe

After suspending all asylum applications from Sri Lanka and Afghanistan, the Australian Government has made a series of confronting youtube videos showing the dangers of the sea, and the arrest and detention of asylum seekers.

This is the Department of Immigration and Citizenship's second foray into youtube, following last year's rather friendlier ImmiTV, which featured the nostalgic stories of former refugees, and promoted skilled migration and resources for new migrants.
posted by Fiasco da Gama (56 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Somehow I doubt mean Youtube vids are high on the priority list of folks seeking to escape their home country to avoid being killed in senseless violence.

But then again, I'm not all hip on this Web 2.0 stuff. Maybe I'm just old fashioned...
posted by yeloson at 5:38 PM on June 15, 2010 [5 favorites]


Wondering how many Afghan asylum seekers have subscribed to the Australian Government's Youtube channel...
posted by Jimbob at 5:39 PM on June 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


@AustralianGovernment - Dying on #ricketyoldboat within sight of #Broome

@AsylumSeekers - lol sending Navy gunners now
posted by turgid dahlia at 5:47 PM on June 15, 2010 [9 favorites]


I work with Sri Lankan guys all day, five days a week, and the sound of their language still sounds alien to my ears. Good guys, though. I hope the Tamils still encamped and indangered at home will find asylum and welcome in some more fortunate countries like Canada, Australia.
posted by Evstar at 6:08 PM on June 15, 2010


endangered.
posted by Evstar at 6:09 PM on June 15, 2010


In other news, volunteer ambulance driver out in Leonora where the asylum seekers are to be held resigns.

It's not like we're giving them the lap of luxury transferring them out to Leonora. Conversley, I'm against it because it's so bloody inhumane to stick them out in the outback in the desert. Come summertime (and make no mistake some of those detainees are going to be there for months) and it's going to be hellishly hot. The detainees are going to have air conditioning in their demountables but it's only more bitching from the "WHY DO ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS GET AIRCON WHILE OUR SCHOOLS HAVE TO HAVE THE PARENTS PAY FOR IT" blah blah borderline racist fucking blah.

Detain them if you absolutely must (blah blah blah, asylum seekers disappear into the community and can't be found if asylum claims aren't valid) but we have an obligation to detain them in humane conditions. Deport them if they aren't valid but I can't believe the comments from some of my countrymen. These are people who have fled war, persecution and opression for a new life in a country that promises "for those who've come across the sea we've boundless plains to share" and it's bloody disgusting.
posted by Talez at 6:14 PM on June 15, 2010 [4 favorites]


Somehow I doubt mean Youtube vids are high on the priority list of folks seeking to escape their home country to avoid being killed in senseless violence.

Nah, I'm sure with all those hours to kill at sea, the refugees will have nothing better to do than spend hours using their iPhones to watch youtube.
posted by mannequito at 6:31 PM on June 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


reportedly, the last lot of fear videos focused on the nasty sharks in the water. All this did was prick up the ears of indonesian fishermen, who like to catch shark.
posted by wilful at 6:35 PM on June 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


All of the Sri Lankans I've met in Canada are refugees who really want to escape the conflict and rebuild their community somewhere else. It's not like they come here and start new turf wars between Tamils and Sinhalese. The other day I was talking to a colleague after work about bicycling. He said he hadn't ridden a bike since he left the island maybe 15 years ago. His salient bicycle memory was of riding along the coast with a friend, getting shot at with an RPG by Sinhalese. This was a segue into a personal lecture on how to evade bazooka fire on foot or bike. You run toward the person firing the thing. It made sense when I thought about it.
posted by Evstar at 6:37 PM on June 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


I was glad to see that the first person identifying themself as an Aussie in this thread had something humane to say about the situation. Thank you for that, Talez.
posted by finite at 6:41 PM on June 15, 2010


Asylum must be first and foremost for dissidents and authors that are being targeted individually for their publications, protests, speech, actions, etc. There is a clear moral obligation to shelter people like the Dalai Lama or Salman Rushdie.

After those special cases however, asylum seeking should become much more like ordinary immigration. In particular, an asylum should be granted more easily for more well educated people, and countries should tighten quotas when existing asylum seekers are forming ghettos.
posted by jeffburdges at 6:51 PM on June 15, 2010


Why are well educated people more deserving of protection than less well educated people, jeffburdges?
posted by puffmoike at 7:02 PM on June 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


"This hysteria is unjustified,’’ he said. "We are not being swamped. Australia receives 1/10,000th of one per cent of the world’s refugees.’’

That bears repeating. I can't stand the general Aussie mentality on immigration and refugees. We've got so much space, so much potential, and receive such a vastly tiny fraction of the refugees of the world.

Gah. Thanks for boldly following along Howard's path, Kevin.
posted by twirlypen at 7:03 PM on June 15, 2010 [8 favorites]


You have to trust someone who describes their own video as "powerful"..
posted by vidur at 7:05 PM on June 15, 2010


So, jeffburdges, people with a well-founded fear of persecution because of their race should be forcibly returned to the source of this persecution?
posted by grouse at 7:08 PM on June 15, 2010


It's pretty bad over here. There's a lot of NIMBY from the people in my state (Western Australia) over housing people in Curtin and Leonora, NIMBY from the state government to the feds over imprisoning people smugglers only in WA because they're coming from Indonesia to Christmas Island which is closest to our state and NIMBY from the feds in accepting refugees in the first place.

Part of the problem is that people do tend to think that people coming to Australia are tending towards more economic migrants than genuine refugees. The attitude being that once you're safe you're supposed to stop. For most people Indonesia is considered a fairly safe location to setup shop, even if it is a second world holiday destination by most Australia standards. The simple fact is that first world countries with good social support, welfare systems and living standards are very attractive places to live. If I was a refugee damn skippy I'd be shooting for Australia, Canada or Germany.

I say if they've gone through all the trouble the deserve to live here. But then again I don't want to encourage people to make an absolutely treacherous trip like Indonesia to Christmas Island.

I personally think we don't take enough refugees. Germany for instance has 16 refugees per 1,000 capita. Australia has 3. The world mean is somewhere around 2.5. We do take above what we'd take if refugees were equally distributed throughout the world but I do think first world countries need to shoulder a lot more of the load given the amount of world wealth tied up in the G20. There's a lot more to give there. Easily.
posted by Talez at 7:10 PM on June 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


On average, Australians believe that about 60 per cent of asylum seekers come to Australia by boat. More than a third of Australians believe that over 80 per cent of asylum seekers arrive by boat. In fact, only 3.4 per cent of people who sought asylum in Australia in 2008 arrived by boat – the other 96.6 per cent arrived by plane.

Even at current levels, the number of asylum seekers arriving by boat makes up about 2.5% of total annual permanent migration, and about 1% when temporary migrants are included. Only 18% of respondents knew that; 30% couldn’t give an answer. Younger voters and Liberal voters were most likely to wildly overestimate asylum seeker figures, and Green voters most likely to get it right.
posted by Jimbob at 7:31 PM on June 15, 2010 [7 favorites]


The governor of Arizona is paying close attention and taking notes, I'm sure.
posted by Daddy-O at 8:02 PM on June 15, 2010


Yup, she is gonna put a stop to all that boat migration to Arizona's shores, if it's the last thing she does.
posted by oddman at 8:09 PM on June 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


I agree with a lot of what is being said in this thread. However, I think that a Tamil person being forced to emigrate is a tragedy in itself.

The first world needs to invest in preventing asylum-seeking by participating in foreign domestic conflicts. We involved ourselves in South Africa's apartheid by introducing sanctions. The war in Sri Lanka was a catastrophe. We should have invested in neural observers, and if Sri Lanka wouldn't accept them, then we should have globally isolated them. Every country wants autonomy, but tough luck -- we live in a globalized world. Instead we just accepted refugees, which is not ideal for the Tamil people, and probably not ideal for their host countries either (compared with the alternative outcome of conflict resolution.)

In fact, there should be a global treaty on accepting reporters.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 8:27 PM on June 15, 2010


This policy has unintentional resonance with another Australian policy.

Responding to the first part of jeffburdges's comment, I am reminded of what documentary filmmaker Pierre Sauvage said when I went to a screening of his film, And Crown Thy Good: Varian Fry in Marseille. Fry was an American writer who helped many prominent (mostly Jewish) intellectuals and artists out of Europe via southern France during the Vichy period. A member of the audience asked if it was troubling that Fry essentially only helped the "elites." Sauvage, who had survived the war hidden in Le Chambon-sur-Lignon as a child, answered that the people Fry helped escape were particularly in danger because of their notoriety.

As for the second part of the comment... well, I have no comment.
posted by dhens at 8:33 PM on June 15, 2010


The first world needs to invest in preventing asylum-seeking by participating in foreign domestic conflicts.

Are you kidding me? lol. Participating in other countries' wars (other countries' anything, really) has been nothing short of a disaster for the developed world, and the poor bastards involved.

Sanctions did nothing to help Iraqis, exacerbate the situation in Palestine and North Korea, and are completely undermined in Burma.

Observers were all over in Sri Lanka.

Global isolation is one of the worst tactics in foreign policy - truly, the last resort for the damned, or the first solution for the naive. It depends largely - and hopelessly optimistically - on global participation. It alientates the governments/dictators involved, gives them nothing to lose, and prevents meaningful dialogue and intelligence from flow both ways. It punishes civilians and the poor first. It's very problematic. There were many reasons apartheid ended; sanctions was merely one.
posted by smoke at 8:42 PM on June 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


On average, Australians believe that about 60 per cent of asylum seekers come to Australia by boat. More than a third of Australians believe that over 80 per cent of asylum seekers arrive by boat. In fact, only 3.4 per cent of people who sought asylum in Australia in 2008 arrived by boat – the other 96.6 per cent arrived by plane.

The crucially relevant other point that people generally fail to understand is that mandatory detention applies only to people who didn't have a valid visa upon arrival.

If you arrive holding any kind of visa (ie legally), and then apply for asylum, you're granted a temporary protection visa until your application is processed (typically, a year or two) and you're basically free to hang out in the general community.

So, that's around 96.6% of asylum seekers, not locked up - which makes a mockery of the rhetoric that we need to put them behind barbed wire for, I don't know what, our own safety or something.

Other than that, John Howard called & he wants his desperate election year xenophobia card back.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:46 PM on June 15, 2010 [6 favorites]


"In particular, an asylum should be granted more easily for more well educated people"

This makes me very fucking angry, then again I went to a state high school and can only express myself in swear words.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 9:25 PM on June 15, 2010 [10 favorites]


Kevin Rudd has fucked up in a couple of major ways in the eyes of voters whether left, right, or stupidly self-centred, and pretty much needs to be taken (or take himself) to the woodshed to save the country from the dreadful prospect of Tony Abbott as Prime Minister. Hopefully this will happen before the election, and Deputy PM Julia Gillard (who is generally well-liked and respected) will become leader of the party and contest it. Hopefully Rudd will become Treasurer after a brief purging of his sins on the back bench.

Not that the current Treasurer Wayne Swan is a bad Treasurer, although he seems lost in it and would be better in something infrastructural; just that Rudd is a Treasurer born, bred, raised and trained, and would be great in that role. I don't think Kevin Rudd is even aware that Australian society can be meaningfully considered as a thing apart from the Australian economy.

Which is why things like this happen. It's leadership failure. The polls presumably said that a gut-kick to the reffos might impress the xenophobes, and anyone offended by it isn't exactly going to be voting for Tony Abbott. Hopefully, this (and various other fuckups) will lead to a strong swing to the Greens, our left-est mainstream party. Despite originally (and nominatively) being an environmentalist single-issue party, the Greens, having absorbed the remnants of the Australian Democrats, are becoming a broader-focused and more serious political force.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 9:36 PM on June 15, 2010


Is this the same Australia that just launched a six-figure rescue for stranded teenage US-citizen sailor Abby Sunderland? So much for the warnings about the dangers of the sea -- at least for white girls.
posted by grounded at 9:54 PM on June 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


There's a lot of refugees in my neighbourhood, Afghani and Sudanese, mostly. There's almost something shellshocked about a lot of them, and I'm constantly surprised by the amount of serious physical scars. There's a girl of about 15 who catches the same bus I do on occasion who has a massive keliod scar, right across her throat. It's a few years old. At some point in her life, someone decided that a small girl needed to have her throat cut.

Open the gates, guys. Most of these folk have done enough suffering. Let's not salt the wounds.
posted by Jilder at 9:58 PM on June 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


jeffburdges Asylum must be first and foremost for dissidents and authors that are being targeted individually for their publications, protests, speech, actions, etc. There is a clear moral obligation to shelter people like the Dalai Lama or Salman Rushdie.

I don't think it matters much to Ibrahim if he is shot for being gay or for being "Ibrahim The Gay". Systemic discrimination is just targetted discrimination of a whole lot of individual people.

After those special cases however, asylum seeking should become much more like ordinary immigration. In particular, an asylum should be granted more easily for more well educated people,

No. Immigration rights are granted more easily to the better-educated and richer, and (arguably) rightly so. "Asylum" is for persons fleeing hardships, including but not limited to terrorism, prosecution and grossly disproportionate punishment for acts or characteristics inoffensive to our national values, environmental disaster whether natural or man-made, etc. Asylum isn't so much about you as an individual who labors under hardships (although you are assessed individually), it's about the hardships under which you labor. That's not just my opinion, that's a summary of the relevant Acts and Treaties.

and countries should tighten quotas when existing asylum seekers are forming ghettos.

Ghettos are a function of population density (and low socioeconomic status; wealthy migrants form "enclaves"), not the mere quantity of people of a particular race, religion, etc present. I can see arguments for promoting future ethnic dispersal, and for attempting to promote the dispersal of presently concentrated ethnic groups where a genuine "ghetto condition" exists (although the only group that really applies to, to my knowledge, are Aboriginals). By which I mean subsidising them moving to underpopulated areas, mostly, and also encouraging their mixing into the community; better educational, social, and employment opportunities being the mixers of choice.

Also, going back to the definition of "asylum" and "refugee", as long as the hardship condition continues there is a presumptive human right to asylum as a refugee. Doesn't matter how many people preceded you fleeing from the same conditions. First World nations with a serious refugee problem (and Australia is not among those) are best off using their economic power to address the situations causing the exodus of refugees in the first place.

I'm against us having concentration camps at all, I'd far rather a subsidised "fostering" system where the government pays people to take in refugee families, teach them English, show them around etc, but if we must have these wretched monuments to xenophobia we ought at least to be using them wisely, ie to intensively train the occupants up to at least a high school standard of education, trade skills, basic financial skills, etc, so that if and when they are let out into Australia they have a better chance of getting on and contributing, and if and when they are sent "home" they have a better chance of personal success in their home country and a better chance to address whatever conditions caused them to become a refugee in the first place.

Obviously a high school education and a trade is a bit useless in the face of ethnic cleansing (which raises the question of why they'd be sent back if it were still a possibility), but it's always better than nothing. And at least it's something productive to do. One of the worst things about those hellholes is unrelenting boredom.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 10:07 PM on June 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


.
posted by Coaticass at 10:08 PM on June 15, 2010


The dot was for the Light on the Hill.
posted by Coaticass at 10:09 PM on June 15, 2010


Whoa! So it is okay to spend a six-figure sum on the rescue of a girl out on a misguided adventure, but air-conditioning for refugees from war-torn areas.. NO WAY! As a new comer to Australia, I am still trying to figure things out, and this was a googly.

Thanks, grounded. That was an eye-opener.
posted by vidur at 10:09 PM on June 15, 2010


Is this the same Australia that just launched a six-figure rescue for stranded teenage US-citizen sailor Abby Sunderland? So much for the warnings about the dangers of the sea -- at least for white girls.

To be fair there is exactly the same outrage in the daily rag this morning.

Apparently "well if someone was fucked in a US rescue zone they'd get rescued too" isn't good enough for the armchair "fuck you I got mine" editorial brigade.
posted by Talez at 10:28 PM on June 15, 2010


In the next citizenship test, expect the question:

Jessica Watson is to Abby Sunderland as Abby Sunderland is to:

a) Sharks
b) Asylum seekers
c) Stop wasting our taxes and where the hell are my free ceiling batts, already?
d) 99.94
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:51 PM on June 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Jessica Watson is to Abby Sunderland as Abby Sunderland is to:

Captain Bligh. Think about it.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 11:00 PM on June 15, 2010


Jessica Watson: around the world, no crew.

Abby Sunderland: halfway across the Indian Ocean, no crew.

Captain Bligh: as far as Norfolk Island. No crew.
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:48 PM on June 15, 2010


There is a moral obligation to shelter elites simply because they'll produce more positive change over the long run. On average, the same holds for more highly educated people. Ergo, if the asylum seeker's writing, actions, etc. are not distinctive, then education should be taken into account.
posted by jeffburdges at 12:14 AM on June 16, 2010


jeffburdges, the people we're talking about aren't persecuted for what they think, they're being persecuted for who they are, or just because they live between two other groups of people who happen to be having a war.

There's a moral—and international legal—obligation to shelter everyone with a well-founded fear of persecution, regardless of the contribution they might make to a sheltering nation.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 12:21 AM on June 16, 2010


So, jeffburdges, you'd not offer a refuge to average young girls under threat of execution by the Taliban simply for daring to go to school? Here's a tip - they never got a chance for an education. That's kind of the point, you know?

What you're talking about is exile, not asylum, as in "The Dali Lama is in exile in India" or "Thaksin Shinawatra is in exile in Britain". Those powerful, educated elites oligarchs you're all concerned for? They tend to be able to look after themselves without having to sneak onto a boat to Australia.

In addition, what's this rubbish about the aim being to produce "positive change"? We don't offer people asylum to create "positive change", we offer people asylum because their lives are in danger. No-one said anything about the purpose of taking in refugees being to somehow fix things in the mother country.

You are operating under some seriously warped axioms.
posted by Jimbob at 1:18 AM on June 16, 2010 [5 favorites]


Straw man much Jimbob? Asylum cases obviously have limits based upon economic, cultural, and political factors. The U.S. makes this very official by setting a refugee ceiling for example. It follows that individuals more likely to integrate well and/or induce positive social change should be the priority. Asylum cases today are instead prioritized based upon political factors, which seems kinda obnoxious.
posted by jeffburdges at 2:06 AM on June 16, 2010


There's a lot of NIMBY from the people in my state (Western Australia)

If I was going to indulge in shameless stereotyping, I'd say, "well, you let all those Poms and Afrikaners move to Perth. What do you expect?"
posted by rodgerd at 2:06 AM on June 16, 2010


It follows that individuals more likely to integrate well and/or induce positive social change should be the priority.

How? You're not explaining yourself. How?

How about I write this:
Asylum cases obviously have limits based upon economic, cultural, and political factors. The U.S. makes this very official by setting a refugee ceiling for example. It follows that individuals at greater risk of persecution or death in their country of origin should be the priority.
Hey, wow, look at that, it fits just as well as what you wrote!
posted by Jimbob at 2:32 AM on June 16, 2010


Can someone tell me whether or not Australia has quotas for refugees? The link above suggests that in the USA, once the ceiling is reached, no more refugees will be accepted. Is that what we do too (indeed, is it even what they do)? Or does anyone who is a bona fide refugee get accepted? I mean, do they really say, "sorry, we'd normally let you in, what with the Taliban wanting to stone you to death and all that, but the bloke in front of you got the last seat."?

I know there is a quota for refugees in the sense that countries put their hands up to accept refugees through the UNHCR resettlement program. See details on the Kiwi program here. But the Kiwi link suggests that there are "quota refugees" (who could have been processed in, say, Indonesia but then finally settle in, say, Sweden) and "treaty refugees" (who are accepted not because of some UNHCR quota program, but who simply meet the legal definition of a refugee), such as those who make it as far as Christmas Island.
posted by GeckoDundee at 2:47 AM on June 16, 2010


It could always be worse.

Hey, wow, look at that, it fits just as well as what you wrote!

Actually, it fits better. Well-educated people who are likely to integrate into a society will most likely be able to immigrate via normal channels.

But, hey, if jeffburdges wants to go on public record as being an opponent of actual refugees, he can knock himself out.
posted by rodgerd at 2:55 AM on June 16, 2010


If I was going to indulge in shameless stereotyping, I'd say, "well, you let all those Poms and Afrikaners move to Perth. What do you expect?"

Ok, I admit it: I LOL'd.

I came in here all ready to rage about the fear-mongering videos and the racist citizens who eat that stuff up with a spoon. But Talez and Jimbob said it much more succintly and reasonably than I could have.

I'm honestly ashamed that our government finds it worthwhile to pander to such a hateful segment of our population. It's not illegal to seek asylum; and it is immoral to keep refugees in such horrible places as some sort of passive agressive way of punishing them for daring to leave a war zone.
posted by harriet vane at 4:26 AM on June 16, 2010


So as a nation we can send our selves into raptures when an ill prepared and advised teenager is in trouble at sea, but when it's foreign refugees (or "boatloads") in a similar situation then we somehow think it's acceptable to turn the boats around or even watch while they sink and drown. I hope Abbot wins the next election and Labor is obliterated- they are now totally meaningless.
posted by the noob at 4:28 AM on June 16, 2010


I hope Abbot wins the next election and Labor is obliterated- they are now totally meaningless
I don't think this is going to have the policy outcome you have in mind
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 4:54 AM on June 16, 2010 [4 favorites]


Can someone tell me whether or not Australia has quotas for refugees? The link above suggests that in the USA, once the ceiling is reached, no more refugees will be accepted.

Yeah, that's exactly how it works. I don't know the current figure, but it used to be 12,000 pa, regardless of the channel - either picked up from overseas camps (eg in Sudan or Pakistan), or from people who just spent six months in a leaky boat.

The people arriving by boat may (in a %ge of cases) be genuine refugees, but the "queue jumper" argument is based on the fact that for every boat-person refugee accepted, that means one less person that we'll accept from a shitty camp in the middle of nowhere - people who have already been recognised by the UNHCR as genuine refugees, and who have been waiting, often for years, for a country to be able to relocate them.

Under our international legal obligations, if more than 12,000 genuine refugees happened to arrive by boat, then we'd have no choice but to accept them all. The concept of that ceiling works precisely because so few arrive by boat, enabling us to fill the rest of the quota by picking people up from the overseas camps.

As far as I understand it, countries like the USA, Canada & European nations operate according to the same principle, but don't quote me on that.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:15 AM on June 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


Asylum cases today are instead prioritized based upon political factors, which seems kinda obnoxious.

Citation, please. As a former refugee lawyer, I suspect that you don't actually know what you're talking about.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:19 AM on June 16, 2010


I understand that the average punter is afraid of the boats and that government has to work within the limitations of public opinion. I hate it, but I understand it. What's really got to me is the degree to which Rudd has indulged the ignorant on this matter.
posted by hawthorne at 5:57 AM on June 16, 2010


Thanks for the explanation, UbuRoivas. I don't get why you're picking on boat arrivals though. Surely the 96% who arrive on tourist visas or whatever and then claim asylum also bump people off the UNHCR list? Or am I still missing something?
posted by GeckoDundee at 6:01 AM on June 16, 2010


I've bveen under the impression that Cubans are given special treatment under U.S. asylum policy, no? Isn't that kinda silly? Australia maybe never made their refugee policy into a cold war political tool, great. Btw, U.S. refugee cieling for 2009 was 80,000, while Canada takes between 10,000 and 12,000 refugees anually.

In fact, real dissidents may not posses the disired criteria for ordinary immigration channels, rodgerd. They'll be activists, journalists, authors, etc. not exactly sought after or wealthy professions. So yes they really are exactly the people who need to be given every priority. You're also trotting out a rediculous and flat wrong straw man since children will inherently integrate better than addults, which was exactly why I said that. ;)
posted by jeffburdges at 6:10 AM on June 16, 2010


Asylum must be first and foremost for dissidents and authors that are being targeted individually for their publications, protests, speech, actions, etc. There is a clear moral obligation to shelter people like the Dalai Lama or Salman Rushdie.

After those special cases however, asylum seeking should become much more like ordinary immigration. In particular, an asylum should be granted more easily for more well educated people, and countries should tighten quotas when existing asylum seekers are forming ghettos.
I don't think you understand what the Asylum laws are supposed to accomplish. Hint: They were instituted after WWII. Can you think of why they might have been put in place?
posted by delmoi at 6:27 AM on June 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't get why you're picking on boat arrivals though. Surely the 96% who arrive on tourist visas or whatever and then claim asylum also bump people off the UNHCR list? Or am I still missing something?

Yes, people who arrive legally & are then granted asylum would also bump people off the UNHCR list.

I don't actually know the exact reasons behind the policy of locking up the illegal arrivals whilst letting the legal arrivals wait out their processing time in the general community, but I'd guess it's based on some or all of the following factors:

- Putting all asylum seekers into camps would be monumentally expensive & even more visible & controversial than it is now. There is already very strong & vocal opposition to even the current tip-of-the-iceberg policy.

- People who arrive legally have less of a question mark over their true identity, meaning that criminal & terrorist (etc) checks can be done (usually before they even arrive).

- Australia has tight visa requirements anyway, and they are proportionally tighter depending on a source country's statistical chance of providing overstayers - eg people from countries whose citizens tend to overstay their visas will often have to provide evidence of ongoing employment, family etc - things that mean they have a life to return to back home. Fail these tests, and chances are you won't get a visa in the first place.

- Legal arrivals probably have a lower chance of being successful in their asylum claims. To be honest, my perception is that many are simple opportunists, either chancing their arm at the remote possibility of permanent migration, or else milking the system for a couple of years of employment before moving on.

- Along the lines above, legal arrivals will usually have legitimate passports, which tends to count as evidence against the fact that their government (at least) is persecuting them.

I've bveen under the impression that Cubans are given special treatment under U.S. asylum policy, no?


Hm, I could imagine that might be true. Don't know enough about it. However, I'd guess that it might be a kind of two-tiered system, whereby Cubans are accepted under a special migration policy of the administration, whereas other asylum seekers are processed under the UNHCR criteria.

Where the UNHCR criteria are concerned, the law is well established, and supervised by the UNHCR. Initial decisions by the administration are subject to independent judicial review, meaning that there is a body of precedent, and the process is therefore quite transparent - not the kind of thing that can be easily skewed by hidden political agendas.

That's aside from the question of whether or not the administration sets up specific & distinct processes, laws & regulations for certain cases (eg possibly Cubans in the US), which sounds more like immigration policy than refugee law to me - not unlike Australia's previous acceptance of many thousands of Vietnamese boat people after the war...they might be commonly referred to as "refugees" but not because they've been processed & accepted under the Refugee Convention.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:34 PM on June 16, 2010


Asylum must be first and foremost for dissidents and authors that are being targeted individually

I guess that if your village was razed to the ground, your male friends and relatives slaughtered, your female friends and relatives slaughtered, then the threat to your life and limb would feel "individual" enough, even if you weren't a noted dissident or author. So, what level of fame would be necessary to qualify for asylum? Would a CNN human interest story be enough, or would a full interview with Larry King be required?

Seriously, where does this supremely selfish, cold, inhumane mentality come from?
If you really believe what you posted, jeffburdges, if you are ready to defend such a standpoint after having earnestly considered its consequences, then you are a truly despicable human being, real scum. And, quite frankly, any noted dissident who would be ready to accept asylum under your conditions, while leaving less notorious refugees out in the cold, wouldn't bloody deserve that asylum.
posted by Skeptic at 4:16 PM on June 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Afterthought: the main difference between treatment of boat people v plane people would be because mandatory detention isn't officially a deterrent against applying for asylum; it's a deterrent against arriving illegally that 'just happens' to affect asylum seekers who arrive by boat.

No country could claim to be upholding its obligations under the Refugee Convention & Protocols if it openly deterred people from applying for asylum. It also makes no sense whatsoever to deter people from getting legitimate visas (eg for study, tourism or work).

Locking up people who arrive illegally is therefore a way of toeing the line of our international obligations, whilst pretending to xenophobic elements in the electorate that the government is tough on border protection & national security - a stance that has unfortunately proven to be a surefire vote-winner, especially since September 11.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:26 PM on June 16, 2010


Surfing with Mr Abbott - former refugee Riz Wakil explains what he's going to talk about with the Opposition Leader, who want to bring back Howard's detention policies. Activist group GetUp won a charity auction to send someone surfing with Tony Abbott, and chose to send Wakil. He seems like a nice bloke.

The 7PM Project tv show won the chance to play lawn bowls with the Prime Minister. I heard that they'd asked Wakil to join them, but haven't been able to find confirmation of this.
posted by harriet vane at 8:52 AM on June 18, 2010


« Older Jimmy Dean (Aug. 28, 1928 - June 13, 2010)...  |  Cyber security consultant & se... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments