Asylum Seeking - The Greatest Migration Racket?

Nov 23


Aliva Kar

Aliva Kar

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Most members of mankind would relish being refugees from the rigours and restrictions of existence. For those slaving or suffering in a poor nation, there can be nothing more enticing than life in a developed nation offering good rewards for honest work, associated with sound governance by a tolerant host people. For the less honest, a future life on welfare would be an adequate attraction.


These push-and-pull forces have led to asylum seeking on a very large and fast-expanding scale. The pressure on the borders of the nations of Europe is substantial. It is,Asylum Seeking - The Greatest Migration Racket? Articles of course, understandable that the 'coloured chickens' from the former colonial territories of European nations might want to roost in the homes of their former masters.

Some reciprocal responsibilities may be implicated, especially where, with the objective of obtaining a balance of power between the colonising nations, regional or national boundaries set by the Europeans resulted in some tribal communities being split. The minority communities thus created have led to tribal wars, forcing massive refugee movements in some locales. Those who could afford the cost sought succour in Europe. In spite of a warm welcome mat or equitable treatment not being readily available, those who simply want a better life do their utmost to get onto their host nation of choice.

Australia is, however, an immigrant-seeking nation. Entrants are normally selected on the basis of what they can contribute to the nation, specified family reunion entrants and accepted refugees excepted. Official entry grants equal status and equal opportunity. Welfare is also exceedingly generous. Economic migrants who, in all probability, would not have qualified for immigration entry, as well as those seeking to bypass the processes of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, tend to seek asylum in Australia as refugees; and in increasing numbers.

These seekers are people who can be described as attempting to obtain permanent residence in Australia through the nation's 'back door.' Those (the majority) who arrive by air do so legally; they have entry visas of one kind or another. Those who arrive by boat are unlawful arrivals. Should they enter Australian territory, they could be described as illegal entrants. The 'debate' about illegal and unlawful is, however, a semantic one; these arrivals have no right to enter Australia. National borders do matter. The arrivals have not qualified to come in through the nation's 'front door' as immigrants. They cannot be described honestly as refugees until they have been accepted as refugees under the UN definition.

Front door entry is by strict selection. There is, however, side door entry, titled humanitarian entry. Indo-Chinese, Soviet Jew, White Russian, East Timorese, East European, Latin American, Middle Eastern, Polish, and Sri Lankan Tamil policies were once piecemeal entry policies, until replaced by a global policy. Entry, while decided case by case, may reflect some political pressure - from both within and without the nation. It might not be best to enquire too closely about the latter.

To allow political considerations to influence policy on back door or asylum entry would be most unwise. Whereas arrivals by air possess documents of identity, almost all boat arrivals reportedly destroy their papers before taking to the boats. One can wonder why they do this. How are the authorities to decide who these people are, their ethnicity, their country of nationality, their relationships with one another, whether they bring mental and other health problems, whether they represent a threat to national security, or are members of criminal gangs, or are drug dealers, or are even the 'snake heads' (people smugglers) involved.

To allow easy entry to Australia to boat arrivals through asylum policy - because they are small in number; or that they are escapees from a war zone or from self-defined 'persecution'; or that they just want a better life - would be foolish policy. Those who advocate such an open door do not explain how their policy preference adequately protects the national interest, or how it affects the nation's geo-politics; and whether the asylum seeker would be able to become economically viable soon, and to integrate culturally into the host nation. Wearing heart on sleeve while exploiting the law to the maximum to counter official policy, as well to over-ride public opinion, is not persuasive.

The sole criterion for a decision whether an applicant for refugee status is genuine should be the UN definition - the applicant has to have a genuine fear of return to the country of nationality because of official persecution. One might also ask whether there is nowhere else suitable to go to, such as a country with a compatible culture, or where the rest of the family is living. Displacement by war or natural disaster would not warrant re-settlement. A return to the country of nationality or previous residence when conditions there have returned to normal would be appropriate in these situations. It is also the customary process.

It should certainly be up to the applicants to prove their case. They might be required to do this within, say, 6 weeks of application; or be sent back to the point of departure to Australia or to the country of nationality. Some strong negotiation here would be necessary, possibly aided by a sizeable periodic grant to the relevant government. The exodus of Tamils from Sri Lanka has seemingly been stopped by an arrangement of this kind.

The bottom line is that an asylum seeker is not a refugee until proven to be so. A failed asylum seeker is just that. The UN Convention of non-return applies only to accepted refugees. Finally, Australia has no reason to seek cheap labour through its asylum entry policy, as might apply to certain other nations.

Were an asylum seeker accepted as a refugee to be given a temporary protection residence visa for, say, 3 years, with no right to family reunion, it would give the authorities the opportunity to evaluate whether permanent residence might eventually be considered - on the basis of each individual's proven capacity to integrate, in an economically viable manner, into the nation. An effective border control process, as well as a responsible public policy, by government require such an approach.

What seems to be a migration entry racket could be easily countered by such a temporary visa. Could anything be fairer to both refugee status claimant and the host nation? Those who need protection should receive it, but not the opportunistic economic migrant. It is incredible that there is no part of Afghanistan safe for the Hazara people. Are there not large districts in Iraq which are predominantly Kurd, Shia or Sunni? Being beguiled into offering re-settlement to cashed-up adventurers from politically stable countries arriving by air would be foolish.

To assist those in dire need is humane. To be hoodwinked by the unworthy is weakness.