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Illegal who?

By mithrandir in Op-Ed
Tue Jan 29, 2002 at 07:22:06 PM EST
Tags: Freedom (all tags)

After a series of incidents, the Australian Government has finally decided to move a group of children out of the Woomera detention center for asylum seekers. The five Afghan and four Iraqi youngsters formed a "suicide pact" last week declaring to kill themselves if not released from the camp by Tuesday. The 200 other inmates of the camp are in their 16th day of protest, which included hunger strike, stitching their lips together and other forms of self-mutilation.

These events have initiated a discussion about Australia's Immigration Policy and its "Zero-Tolerance" approach towards boat people. Another important aspect of the whole story, however, is how developed countries treat asylum seekers once those have arrived on their home turf.

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comments (24)
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In general, refugees seeking asylum in a country of the so called "Western World" are not a popular subject for discussion. In the most cases they don't speak the local language, are poorly educated and have entered the country illegally with the help of organized people smugglers. The standard approach is to regard these people - including women and children - as criminals who have to be imprisoned.

The lack of discussion and general ignorance of the problem by the public opinion renders it non-existent. The current economic situation in many countries (e.g. rising unemployment throughout the EU) is another factor which hinders a constructive debate on the subject. Not only do people fail to realize that a problem exists but also regard the refugees as a potential threat to public safety on one hand, and the job market on the other. The feelings generally range from lack of sympathy to blatant xenophobia.

Does a solution of the "refugee problem" exist? Are we scared of illegal immigrants? The most important thing which is to be kept in mind is that no human being is illegal per se, and that all of us have a right to be treated in a proper manner and not to be locked away in a desert camp surrounded by barbed wire.


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Illegal who? | 51 comments (46 topical, 5 editorial, 0 hidden)
Hmm... (2.81 / 11) (#1)
by wji on Tue Jan 29, 2002 at 04:14:22 PM EST

The five Afghan and four Iraqi youngsters formed a "suicide pact" last week
Hmm, and here I thought a good part of our justification for bombing/starving those two countries was that their leaders treated their citizens with complete indifference to whether they live or die. Guess we send the B-52s to bomb Darwin now?

In conclusion, the Powerpuff Girls are a reactionary, pseudo-feminist enterprise.
Misunderstanding (4.81 / 11) (#3)
by onyxruby on Tue Jan 29, 2002 at 04:28:23 PM EST

I think many people mistake not wanting illegal immigrants with xenophobia. I live here in the US, a country that is ultimately entirely made up of immigrants (even the American Indians are Immigrants of several different waves). I tend to have a high respect for those that have immigrated into my country. The act is something that I think requires a high level of courage to say the least. These are people that are essentailly abandoning everything they know in order to better themselves, their families and their future generations.

I have to consider legal immigration something that can only be good. Without question, my country would not be what it is today without it's long history of accepting legal immigrants. Immigrants I have worked with in the past were some of the best citizens and workers to be found, and almost all of them took pride in their new found country and their contribution to it.

That being said, I have contempt for those that attempt to immigrate into a country illegally. Is it to much to ask of a country that you want to host yourself and your family to get permission? Millions of people get permission every year and countless millions more have earned their citizenship (vs being born into it) over the years, by bypassing the hard work that the successful honest immigrant has done, illegal immigrants have effectively slapped in the face those that immigrated legally and worked hard once they came.

If there is a genuine political persecution issue, exceptions can be made, hundreds of thousands have been granted over the years (cuban boat lift comes to mind). By entering a country illegally, they unfairly tax the resources of said country, most often without doing anything like paying taxes in return (since paying taxes would turn you into the government). In short I don't like illegal immigrants because they are most often freeloaders.

The moon is covered with the results of astronomical odds.

Agree (3.75 / 4) (#8)
by catseye on Tue Jan 29, 2002 at 05:21:41 PM EST

I couldn't agree more. I live in Texas, which has more than its fair share of illegal immigrants, mostly Hispanic. I have nothing against Hispanic people and would not turn any of them away if they wanted to live and work in this country legally, but those that live and work here illegally are a burden. They can't go to a doctor for a simple illness, so they wait until it gets more serious then show up at the emergency room, where they have to be treated. Typically they're declared indigent, so their health care costs are absorbed by the taxpayers. A legal immigrant can go to a doctor and spend about $45.00 (the cost of a walk-in clinic office visit in my town) of his or her own money. An illegal one must go to the emergency room, where the same treatment for the same illness costs 10x as much, minimum... of taxpayer money. My fiance's mother works in a hospital close to the border and sees this all the time.

As well, in some states the children of illegal immigrants can enter the public school system, at taxpayer expense. Illegal immigrants use all sorts of services that they have never paid taxes for. They might be working hard for much less than minimum wage, but they're still taking advantage of the system. They'd be able to get better jobs if they'd just enter the country legally, or at the very least get work visas.

I think illegal immigrants that cannot claim political asylum should be deported.

How can we fight Islamic Fundamentalism abroad if we do not fight Christian Fundamentalism at home?
[ Parent ]
Illegal Alienses (none / 0) (#40)
by defeated on Wed Jan 30, 2002 at 03:18:32 PM EST

I live in Texas, too, but I have to say that I'd rather my taxes go to an illegal from Mexico/South America than to American citizens who were born in this country with plenty of opportunity and still suck on the welfare teat. I know my stance isn't too popular; I've even argued it out with a Mexican-American co-worker who absolutely hated "wetbacks". Perhaps my perception is colored by the fact that I've worked with and had friends who were illegal, and I've got nothing but respect for them - they bust their asses, most of the time for a pittance (and are glad to get it), and send most of their earnings straight home to their families.

[ Parent ]
They also... (3.00 / 1) (#20)
by greenrd on Tue Jan 29, 2002 at 08:46:01 PM EST

... often earn less that minimum wage doing boring manual labor, keeping prices lower for you. Not what I would call "freeloading" exactly.

[ Parent ]

Two wrongs (5.00 / 1) (#27)
by onyxruby on Wed Jan 30, 2002 at 03:00:08 AM EST

First, I think those that exploit illegal immigrants in such conditions are far worse than the illegal immigrants themselves. This is something that I think is deplorable and should result in serious prison time. From Tyson foods to agriculture and on the problem is very widespread.

Cracking down on illegal immigrants in these positions would have two benefits. First and foremost it will benefit those people who are being denied employment in order to hire people even cheaper than the minimum level wage they could otherwise get. By preventing wages from being artificially lowered through immoral methods this will also increase the average wage of the jobs that are often minimum wage only.

Secondly, it will benefit the illegal workers themselves by preventing them from being exploited. Many of these illegal immigrants work in effective slavery, particulary those that come here to the US through Chinese Triads. Some good links on this exploitation to consider (too lazy to label them properly right now).

  • First
  • Second
  • Third
  • Fourth

    Last thought, yes I am sure that prices on many things I buy are likely lowered due to such exploitation. All things considered, I'd rather spend more money and know that the people involved in making my purchase possible were earning a living wage.

    The moon is covered with the results of astronomical odds.
    [ Parent ]

  • fine (none / 0) (#26)
    by Weezul on Wed Jan 30, 2002 at 02:43:03 AM EST

    I understand your point, but legal immigration might not be a very good option for many people. Indeed, I would vote for laws with took various factors like education into account when evaluating people for immigration (i.e. PhDs and MDs can go any place they want any time they want, collage graduates have an easy time of it too). I mean lets face it, we want the best we can get. You can see the problems this would cause for people with very little.

    "Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power." - Benito Mussolini
    [ Parent ]
    I disagree (5.00 / 1) (#41)
    by flimflam on Wed Jan 30, 2002 at 04:56:30 PM EST

    Being married to a (former) illegal immigrant, I have to disagree with you. You mention asking permission as if that is acually a realistic option for most immigrants. My wife tried applying for a visa several times (from El Salvador), and was rejected because she was too poor. There really was no legal way to come, and staying very likely would have meant death (her only brother and two of her sisters were killed in the war). She risked her life to come here illegally, and she has supported herself (and paid taxes) since she's gotten here. Her story is fairly typical. I fail to see why we should send people like her back. Most people that come here illegally really don't have a lot of options. (That said, I do try to discourage others from coming because they really have no concept of how hard life will be for them here.)

    -- I am always optimistic, but frankly there is no hope. --Hosni Mubarek
    [ Parent ]
    "Political refugees" versus "illega (4.33 / 3) (#4)
    by rickward on Tue Jan 29, 2002 at 04:32:52 PM EST

    I think it's interesting that developed nations are a lot more willing to tolerate the presence of immigrants who come for strictly economic opportunities.

    Political refugees are by definition people who flee their homes because they will not adapt to the wills of their rulers. Guest workers are a better deal for the ruling elite. They tend to dream big and live small.

    Most people can understand a man who moves so he can make a living. It's moving to make a new life that breeds fear and loathing.

    "How am I to trust my own 5 feeble senses? Who's to say that when I open the freezer door that I'm really not just opening a gateway to a very cold dimension populated by wire racks?" —MisterQueue

    guest workers (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by mithrandir on Tue Jan 29, 2002 at 04:37:53 PM EST

    Guest workers are a better deal for the ruling elite

    The most common practice is to allow them to work if they promise to leave in a few years.

    wojpob at wikipedia - contribute your knowledge
    [ Parent ]
    No (4.00 / 1) (#15)
    by Estanislao Martínez on Tue Jan 29, 2002 at 06:12:37 PM EST

    Political refugees are by definition people who flee their homes because they will not adapt to the wills of their rulers.

    You leave out persecution from your definition. Frankly, I don't believe "the will of the rulers" plays a necessary role at all. You simply have to be in danger because of your beliefs, race, etc.

    [ Parent ]

    "Political" vs slave (none / 0) (#16)
    by WebBug on Tue Jan 29, 2002 at 06:18:04 PM EST

    I'm not sure I'll be able to articulate this clearly, so I'll be breif.

    Some countries "tolerate" very nearly as many economic immigrants as they do political ones. Yet, still imprison those that arrive illegally.

    The thought is, if they want to be here, we have no objection, if they want to be here, but would prefer not to tell us, then we suspect that they are up to no good.

    The real "not nice people" are the smugglers, but they are harder to catch, so if we can remove their supply, then perhaps we reduce some of the suffering that they cause.
    -- It may be that your sole purpose is to server as a warning to others . . . at least I have one!
    [ Parent ]
    Not true as such (3.28 / 7) (#7)
    by trhurler on Tue Jan 29, 2002 at 05:19:35 PM EST

    Actually, if you violate the laws of a nation in the process of entering it, you can in fact be held in a desert camp surrounded by barbed wire. That's what "breaking the law" can do to you. Regardless of your empathy for these people, they have broken the law. Regardless of what you THINK of the law, they still broke it. Why would you want people who do not respect the rule of law in your country? You can talk about oppression and poverty all you want, but the fact remains that many oppressed, poor people come to the West via legitimate means; clearly poverty and oppression do not force you to break the laws of a nation you would call your future home.

    'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

    not realy (4.00 / 2) (#9)
    by mithrandir on Tue Jan 29, 2002 at 05:31:52 PM EST

    That's what "breaking the law" can do to you

    Aren't you supposed to get a fair trial before you get locked away in a desert camp?

    You can talk about oppression and poverty all you want, but the fact remains that many oppressed, poor people come to the West via legitimate means

    Try this:
    1. Become a Syrian, Afghani or Pakistani citizen
    2. Apply for a US, German or UK visa...

    ....good riddance

    wojpob at wikipedia - contribute your knowledge
    [ Parent ]

    Heh (3.75 / 4) (#13)
    by trhurler on Tue Jan 29, 2002 at 05:58:56 PM EST

    Aren't you supposed to get a fair trial before you get locked away in a desert camp?
    To determine what? That you entered the country illegally? Not even the most ardent pro-illegal advocates try to argue that, because it is generally a settled matter of fact that neither party disputes. And remember, in general things like the right to a trial hinge, if not on citizenship, at least on legal presence(ie, you've got papers.) In any case, whether or not the system is working, it is not the intent of the law that these people get stuck in a camp forever; this is supposed to be a temporary measure.
    Try this: 1. Become a Syrian, Afghani or Pakistani citizen 2. Apply for a US, German or UK visa...
    Oddly enough, I know a Pakistani guy who runs a convenience store, and business partners in the UK tell me that Pakistanis aren't exactly rare there. They must get in somehow. I don't know about Afghans. Frankly, I don't want Syrians here without extensive background checks. A significant percentage of their population would like nothing more than to massacre US citizens. Similarly, I think we ought to tighten our visa policies regarding Saudi Arabia and much of the rest of the Midde East, for as long as the current situation(ie, they hate our guts) stands. On the other hand, the way we treat people from a lot of African countries is just outright wrong; they generally mean no harm to anyone, and just want a better life, and typically we ignore them even when they show every sign of willingness to work for it.

    'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

    [ Parent ]
    heh 2 (none / 0) (#31)
    by FredBloggs on Wed Jan 30, 2002 at 06:21:35 AM EST

    "and much of the rest of the Midde East, for as long as the current situation(ie, they hate our guts)"

    Hmm.. better add France, the UK, Norway...

    [ Parent ]
    Heh 3 (none / 0) (#36)
    by srutis on Wed Jan 30, 2002 at 12:48:06 PM EST

    Why not Switzerland, Germany, Russia, .., .. You Americans are dominating the World. You are doing this slightly better than other world dominators, but for your high moral standard you fail. Free Market? haha. As long as it is good for you, then yes. But if it hurts you, you're not any better that any other market-protecting country. Human Rights? as long as it doesn't hinder your world wide deals with countries who murder thousands of people every year (including babies who happen to be born not as the first one). Democracy? the choice is between the one and the other party, and the main difference is that they are founded by different coorperations. so, continue to dominate. but don't think that anyone will love or like you.

    [ Parent ]
    This time its personal! (none / 0) (#37)
    by FredBloggs on Wed Jan 30, 2002 at 01:05:40 PM EST

    "You Americans are dominating the World"

    Call me an American again and i`ll have to ask you to step outside... ;)

    [ Parent ]
    Not really (none / 0) (#22)
    by iwnbap on Tue Jan 29, 2002 at 10:46:19 PM EST

    By the same argument, if I park my bike illegally (which I did a few days ago) and "violate the laws of the nation" there's no moral issue in incarcerating me behind barbed wire!

    In fact I got a parking ticket. And I was pissed off, and I cursed the day the parking attendant was born. But I'll pay the fine, and life will go on. I don't see how illegal immigration (which does about as much harm as my illegaly parking my bike) deserves such savage retribution.

    [ Parent ]
    Except ... (5.00 / 1) (#28)
    by Robert S Gormley on Wed Jan 30, 2002 at 04:36:36 AM EST

    ... we signed this treaty, which said we'd accept all comers for possible refugee status.

    "Oh don't mind that, we'll give you our written word you can do this! -pause for electoral/political convenience- Nah, sorry, off to the desert for you"

    Oh, and the places where people are being held, I don't know... Survivor Australia was *lush*. Some of these places eclipse Death Valley in terms of temperature records regularly.

    [ Parent ]

    heh (none / 0) (#29)
    by streetlawyer on Wed Jan 30, 2002 at 04:55:41 AM EST

    Regardless of your empathy for these people, they have broken the law. Regardless of what you THINK of the law, they still broke it.

    Nice libertarian viewpoint there.

    Out of interest, what were your views on Martin Luther King Jr?

    Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
    [ Parent ]

    Er? (none / 0) (#34)
    by trhurler on Wed Jan 30, 2002 at 12:13:11 PM EST

    Nice libertarian viewpoint there.
    I'm not really quite a traditional libertarian anyway, but you're confusing "libertarian" and "anarchist." They're not the same. Most real anarchists are a form of libertarians, maybe, but it does not follow that libertarians are all anarchists. I happen to believe that the rule of law is indispensable, even if I would change the laws themselves.
    Out of interest, what were your views on Martin Luther King Jr?
    That's a pretty broad subject, but if you mean my views about his breaking the law, then I feel no differently than I do about any other civil disobedience: good for you, if you're willing to pay the legal price. You cannot expect the law to make exceptions for you, and you do not deserve them, but if this is your way of trying to change the law, then by all means, go at it. In this particular case, I think his cause was mostly a good one(I'm not real keen on the aspect of his movement that consisted of stripping private citizens of their free association rights, but other than that, he had a good cause.)

    'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

    [ Parent ]
    "the rule of law" (none / 0) (#35)
    by streetlawyer on Wed Jan 30, 2002 at 12:23:05 PM EST

    I hope it will help to put some libertarian iron in your Republican soul to remember that the word "law" in "the rule of law" does not refer to the US Code.

    In libertarian and classical liberal literature, respect for the rule of law refers to respect for the rule of common law (property, injury, tort, etc). It does not commit you to obeying any law that some damn fool might want to pass, still less executive orders or regulations.

    Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
    [ Parent ]

    Yes, but... (none / 0) (#38)
    by trhurler on Wed Jan 30, 2002 at 01:31:21 PM EST

    There is a small problem here; the same disagreement I have with ubu. You see, "respect for the rule of law" is all well and good, but in a country of 280 million people, nobody has yet shown how you can have any law that is not enforced by a government, and this government necessarily needs a way to decide what to enforce.

    Anarchists would have us throw the baby out with the bathwater, but despite talk about this and that primitive tribal society with abundant resources and low population density, they have never provided a good reason to believe that we can survive in a civilized manner given our present population and other circumstances without government, or that those circumstances can be reasonably altered to allow this.

    I am presently convinced that government is necessary, and that fixing it(ie, shrinking it a whole lot, putting more explicit and stricter limits on what it can and cannot do, and so on,) is the only practical option open to us, whether by reform or revolution or whatever. I'd prefer reform, as it is less messy and less likely to make things worse instead of better.

    Because of this, I have to accept that laws which presently exist, even if they are wrong, are the law. We should change the ones that are wrong, or abolish them(frequently,) but the fact of having a practically meaningful law is more important than any one particular law, especially while government exists. A government which becomes arbitrary, through either necessity or malice, is far worse than even the most horrible of oppressive but lawful regimes; it is possible to adapt to the law, but it is not possible to adapt to arbitrary rule by intimidation.

    All this is not to say that I wouldn't love to be convinced of the feasibility of anarchy, but that will not be a simple task. I don't want a religion, a pipe dream, or any other manner of wishful thinking; I want something I can believe in for good reasons on both a theoretical and a practical level.

    'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

    [ Parent ]
    Hold on a sec... (1.80 / 5) (#11)
    by makaera on Tue Jan 29, 2002 at 05:49:16 PM EST

    There is a good reason to be wary of illegal immigrants, they might be suicide bombers. If we start letting anyone who tries to enter the country run around and do what ever they want, how long before terrorists and enemy agents start infiltrating the country using this technique? While many people have been persecuted and have legitimate grievances concerning their country of origin, this is a time of heightened awareness and skepticism. Many times the beaurocratic system is so backlogged, there isn't time for a speedy determination of if a person is legitamate or not..

    "Ninety rounds in there," Joel Andrews said. "If you can't take it down with 90 rounds, you better turn in your badge!" -- from Washington Post

    Right! (none / 0) (#33)
    by Ranieri on Wed Jan 30, 2002 at 10:31:21 AM EST

    I bet every secret agent and terrorism worth his salt would travel half the globe in a shaky boat and go throught the extremely lengthy asylum procedure just to get in your country (including the investigation designed to see if you can legitimately claim refugee status).

    I'm sure that makes a lot more sense than getting year long work/travel visa on a forged passport.

    The Australian embassy over here hands out work/travel visa with the same discrimination as AOL hands out CDs. If you want to keep track of who is in your country, you are looking the wrong way. They are coming through the front door.
    Taste cold steel, feeble cannon restraint rope!
    [ Parent ]

    No No No (none / 0) (#43)
    by makaera on Wed Jan 30, 2002 at 07:14:23 PM EST

    You missed the whole point! The article implied that we should lighten the restrictions of illegal aliens. I merely pointed out that that would provide one more technique for terrorists to enter the country. Al-Qaeda has shown a fairly decent level of sophistication, but other groups lacking their resources might try to use this technique if it was feasible. If someone is willing to commit suicide to kill their enemies, a ride on a leaky boat is not much of a risk, their only regret in death is that they were unable to complete their mission. The current lengthy asylum technique (which was attacked in the story) is something I view as a good thing. All I'm saying is that both doors, front and back need to be guarded.

    While re-reading my original post, it appears that I might have implied that I'm from Australia, that it not true. I am from another country that is a big magnet for immigrants, illegal and otherwise.

    "Ninety rounds in there," Joel Andrews said. "If you can't take it down with 90 rounds, you better turn in your badge!" -- from Washington Post
    [ Parent ]

    Harsh truth (4.00 / 4) (#12)
    by Tatarigami on Tue Jan 29, 2002 at 05:49:56 PM EST

    I think there are some things we're hiding from ourselves that we need to face.

    It's a fact that we, in the developed world, enjoy a very high standard of living. We eat well, own property, and take for granted a level of self-determination that seems almost mythical to the less fortunate.

    Now I think that while we don't acknowledge it, we (as a culture) have an awareness that our resources, while impressive, are limited. Joe Bloggs, grumbling about foreigners coming over here and taking our jobs, is expressing a common fear that allowing refugees uninvited means there are increasing numbers of people competing for a static pool of resources which will inevitably mean a drop in living standards. (He's probably also a little nervous over the prospect that immigrants, faced with the kind of opportunities they've never dreamed of before, would be willing to work a little harder for them than he is.)

    I'm not innocent either, I'm just honest enough to admit that (like Australia) I'm guilty of being overprotective of my living standard.

    wealth is not a constant (none / 0) (#23)
    by MSBob on Tue Jan 29, 2002 at 11:57:56 PM EST

    You're wrong. Admitting more immigrants does not have to mean a drop in your standard of living. Wealth is not a constant. Let's look at a very simplified economic model. When a group of immigrants arrive in your country (wherever it may be) they are not just heads that need to be employed. For the most part they are also productive members of the society. If they produce at least as much as they consume your country's wealth (and also your wealth in a minute part) increase. Everyone is better off. The only problematic situation are immigrants arriving and struggling to find employment. This luckily is more of an exception than a rule.

    For a bit of anecdotal evidence about immigrants consider the story of one Canadian immigrant who proceeded to become the owner of the only Canadian airline that actually turns profit even after the 9/11 End Of The World(tm). That guy employs thousands of Canadian citizens.

    Talking about immigrants as parasites who are out there to consume your wealth and who don't contribute anything back shows ignorance and lack of lateral thinking on your part.

    I don't mind paying taxes, they buy me civilization.

    [ Parent ]
    Disagreement (none / 0) (#46)
    by Tatarigami on Wed Jan 30, 2002 at 10:33:21 PM EST

    Talking about immigrants as parasites who are out there to consume your wealth and who don't contribute anything back shows ignorance and lack of lateral thinking on your part.

    If you're planning on replying to a comment, you should do more than just skim it.

    I wasn't opposing immigration, I was saying we need to be honest with ourselves when approaching the topic. A lot of reasons given for confining refugees and illegal immigrants appear logical on the surface, but I suspect that's just rationalisation.

    [ Parent ]
    Biased. (3.50 / 4) (#14)
    by m0rzo on Tue Jan 29, 2002 at 06:06:19 PM EST

    You don't give both sides of this story. In my opinion, it is the right of any country to decide who enters it. In many cases these so-called "Asylum Seekers" are nothing of the sort - simply economic migrants. Resources, no matter how abundant they seem, are limited. There are people starving on the streets of the West without adding to the problem. Imagine the chaos if every Vietnamese person decided to up and leave and head for Australia.

    This is the harsh, undeniable truth.

    Also, there's the matter of national security. We don't know who we're letting into our borders, some of them could be terrorists. These opinion is likely to be abhored by most but you know I am right.


    My last sig was just plain offensive.
    Rights (5.00 / 2) (#19)
    by Robert S Gormley on Tue Jan 29, 2002 at 08:19:43 PM EST

    Well, had we wanted this right, we wouldn't have signed the appropriate UN treaty on human refugees, which stated we would allow *any* person to arrive on our shores and claim refugeeship. Whether or not they were valid or not would be a point for processing, but not for "we will never let them set foot on our soil" (to quote our spineless Prime Minister). We *chose* to sign that treaty/convention. We're actively denying any involvement now that it's politically inconvenient. "You know I'm right" Bullshit. What about the ones we let in on tourist visas? They're free to roam around. The refugees aren't. Arguably, tourism visas are more dangerous to our "national security" than refugees.

    [ Parent ]
    Apologetic for the PC crowd (4.50 / 2) (#21)
    by iwnbap on Tue Jan 29, 2002 at 10:40:05 PM EST

    There are several issues raised in opposition:
    • They might be criminals/terrorists/etc. For this reason it's appropriate to _screen_ asylum seekers, as opposed to incarcerate indefinitely. Presumably there are files maintained by international intelligence organizations which would allow this to happen.
    • I want my standard of living! I don't see that economic refugee-ism necessarily undermines the living standard of those already in the country. In the case of Australia, 75 - 100,000 illegals (from US and UK mostly) seem to be having little effect at the moment, and I can't see that an additional 5 - 10,000 per year of "economic" asylum seekers would present much additional problem; the quantity is smaller than the margin of error on the original measurement.
    • They won't integrate - we'll get Brixton-style race riots This is an issue of management. In order to avoid this, it's necessary to control the creation of ghettos, and probably ensure that the surrounding population doesn't become impoverished themselves - there seems to be a real correlation between overt riot-inducing racism and poverty.
    • It undermines the rule of law This is the only one I can't really answer; it is technically performing an illegal act, akin to queue-jumping. When I try to picture "illegal immigration" on my moral scale of badness, I come out somewhere close to tax evasion - a harm is done to society wich is almost impossible to describe or quantify, the reason that it's bad (in an individual sense) is that the rules themselves are being broken. I'd suggest therefore that any punishment should be similar to tax evasion; (here at least) a moderate fine, levied over several years, with imprisonment for 6 months or so and forfiture of property in particularly bad cases (e.g. people smuggling).
    Ultimately I see the act as pretty harmless. Maybe there is some damage done to the fabric of society, but if anywhere at the margin.

    Erm... (3.00 / 1) (#25)
    by scanman on Wed Jan 30, 2002 at 01:08:14 AM EST

    I heard the IRS will come and change the locks on your doors while you're at work. Is that the kind of thing you mean, or do I talk to too many paranoid people?

    "[You are] a narrow-minded moron [and] a complete loser." - David Quartz
    "scanman: The moron." - ucblockhead
    "I prefer the term 'lifeskills impaired'" - Inoshiro

    [ Parent ]

    Brixton-style style race riots (4.00 / 1) (#32)
    by FredBloggs on Wed Jan 30, 2002 at 06:26:22 AM EST

    "They won't integrate - we'll get Brixton-style race riots"

    "In order to avoid this, it's necessary to control the creation of ghettos"

    "ensure that the surrounding population doesn't become impoverished themselves"

    Sounds like you`re a fan of Enoch Powell! I thought the Brixton Riots happened because the blacks were treated badly. The MacPherson report (into the Steven Lawrence case) stated that the police were racist; presumably this has been the case for a while, and not something which happened in the last few years. Strangely though, no-one has thought to open inquiries into policing methods in Brixton (and Toxteth and other rioted locations).

    [ Parent ]
    That's my point (4.00 / 1) (#42)
    by iwnbap on Wed Jan 30, 2002 at 06:56:35 PM EST

    The "They won't integrate - we'll get Brixton-style race riots" line was in bold to make it out that it was the line I was trying to oppose. The point I was trying to make is that we should take steps to prevent it.

    [ Parent ]
    Sorry! (none / 0) (#48)
    by FredBloggs on Thu Jan 31, 2002 at 01:00:50 PM EST

    I should have read it more carefully!

    [ Parent ]
    Sure (none / 0) (#44)
    by makaera on Wed Jan 30, 2002 at 07:20:06 PM EST

    <quote>For this reason it's appropriate to _screen_ asylum seekers, as opposed to incarcerate indefinitely. Presumably there are files maintained by international intelligence organizations which would allow this to happen.</quote> Yes, I'm sure that if we pool our information we will know the identities of every single secret agent working for every hostile government and terrorist organization. Yeah, right. The reason for incarceration is to allow time to check the stories as much as possible. I'm not saying the current technique is perfect, all I'm saying is that I have yet to hear of a decent counter-preposal.

    "Ninety rounds in there," Joel Andrews said. "If you can't take it down with 90 rounds, you better turn in your badge!" -- from Washington Post
    [ Parent ]

    Three distinct discussions (4.00 / 1) (#24)
    by MVpll on Wed Jan 30, 2002 at 12:35:44 AM EST

    I see at least three different themes tangled together in these postings.

    1) Immigration

    Many arguments bought forth in these discussions can easily be applied to all forms of immigration, and as such are not really relevant solely to illegal immigration.

    Governments have little idea what a "good" rate of immigration is, so being comfortable with a country's current level is naive, as is being outraged merely because the "legal" rate is exceeded.

    2) Illegal Immigration.

    Most of this is done on the sly, the only people who are truely open are those who are either genuine refugees, or got caught and claimed to be refugees, which leads to point three.

    3) Treatment of (potential?) illegal immigrants.

    Until their claims are assessed, these "refugees" have (most likely) not broken any law, so obviously only quarantine and security concerns need apply. It seems unlikely any of them would have smuggled in a tank, so I think the security concerns would be low as well.

    So if person A wants to talk about the downside of immigration (1), fine, but then when person B talks about (3), people should realise that B is not actually taking part in A's discussion, but attempting to redirect it, and vice versa.

    Are they allowed to go home ? (3.50 / 2) (#30)
    by gibodean on Wed Jan 30, 2002 at 05:04:13 AM EST

    One thing I haven't seen commented on in the media is the answer to the simple question.

    Are they allowed to go home, or are they actually being detained ?

    If they said "we're sick of this. Let us out. We're going home", would Australia let them ? Would we pay to send them home ?

    Is it actually their choice that they're sitting in that detention centre ?

    Or, are we detaining them as a form of punishment for illegally entering ?

    Notes from Los Angeles Times (4.00 / 1) (#50)
    by flieghund on Thu Jan 31, 2002 at 09:35:33 PM EST

    The Los Angeles Times ran an excellent article recently (which unfortunately seems to have been removed from their web site -- they only go back a few days and I believe this ran over a week ago) that chronicled the hardships of several families in the Woomera (sp?) detention center. IIRC, both officials and detainees were quoted as admiting that they were not being held against their will, and that they were "free" to return to any of the countries they had visited en route to their arrival in Australia.

    This seems to put the Australian officials' minds at peace, which (from their viewpoint) I suppose it should. However, the detainees are caught between the infamous rock and hard place: they can remain in Australia as a psuedo-prisoner with low chance of being granted assylum at some undetermined date in the future; or, they can return to their country of origin, where most detainees believe they will be tortured and/or killed upon their return.

    So: are they allowed to go home? Sure. But most don't want to. On one hand, their "horrible treatment" is by their own actions -- they can end it any time they want by simply leaving Australia -- but on the other hand, their treatment at Woomera is probably a lot better than what they fear will happen to them if they return home.

    Using a Macintosh is like picking your nose: everyone likes to do it, but no one will admit to it.
    [ Parent ]
    Illegal immigrants are behaving *illegally* (4.00 / 1) (#39)
    by duncan bayne on Wed Jan 30, 2002 at 02:16:30 PM EST

    I don't really see what the problem is.

    Those who are illegal immigrants are quite simply breaking the law - they should be sent back whence they came, as the Australian Government has no responsibility for their welfare, moral or otherwise.

    In the case of genuine asylum seekers, they should be given visas as quickly as is safe (e.g. allowing time to screen out those who are not genuine aslyum seekers). This is indeed happening.

    What's the issue here?

    the fact.. (none / 0) (#47)
    by rebelcool on Thu Jan 31, 2002 at 12:00:35 AM EST

    they're caged up like animals for months, upon months at a time.

    COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site
    [ Parent ]

    Standard of living a non-issue (none / 0) (#45)
    by brunes69 on Wed Jan 30, 2002 at 08:19:07 PM EST

    Having recently been through my Sociology 1000 class, I can say that the argument that "immagrants will steal jobs and dilute the workforce" is a non-issue. Population growth in the first world - ESPECIALLY in North America, is in the negatives. Familtys are having fewer and fewer children, and we are already at sub-replacement rates. What does this mean? In a few generations, without immegration, there wont BE enough workers to drive the economy.

    ---There is no Spoon---
    Birth rate not zero (none / 0) (#49)
    by Rhodes on Thu Jan 31, 2002 at 01:11:29 PM EST

    Canada and the US have a higher growth rate than Northern Europe or Japan. Here are birth and death rates from the cia factbook.

    From: cia factbook Canada: 11.21 births/1,000 population (2001 est.)
    Canada: 7.47 deaths/1,000 population (2001 est.)
    United States: 14.2 births/1,000 population (2001 est.)
    United States: 8.7 deaths/1,000 population (2001 est.)

    Germany: 9.16 births/1,000 population (2001 est.)
    Germany: 10.42 deaths/1,000 population (2001 est.)
    Italy: 9.05 births/1,000 population (2001 est.)
    Italy: 10.07 deaths/1,000 population (2001 est.)
    Japan: 10.04 births/1,000 population (2001 est.)
    Japan: 8.34 deaths/1,000 population (2001 est.)
    United Kingdom: 11.54 births/1,000 population (2001 est.)
    United Kingdom: 10.35 deaths/1,000 population (2001 est.)

    [ Parent ]
    Boat people *NOT* illegal immigrant (none / 0) (#51)
    by hugues on Fri Jul 26, 2002 at 03:34:03 AM EST

    What is the issue here? is asking someone.

    According to the International treaties that Australia has signed and is bound to, it is NOT illegal to enter Australia via any means and then to apply for refugee status. That includes just boarding an old leaky boat and enter Australian waters.

    This is what the vast majority of people in detention in various Australian facilities have done. I repeat: this is not illegal. They are not illegal immigrant, they have jumped no queue. There is no queue anywhere to join if you want to apply for refugee status in Australia.

    Australia is then bound by treaty to process these people: their refugee status must be assessed. If they are found by a court of law to be genuine refugees then a refugee status visa must be granted to them. If they are not found to be refugees they must be returned to their country of origin, if safe.

    The rethoric about queue jumpers and illegal immigrants has been brought up by the Australian governement to demonize these basically helpless people.

    This is why the UN High Commission on Refugees has the power and is keen to find out what happens to asylum seekers in Australia.

    Think of this mechanism as a two way street. Maybe in a few years time a facist and undemocratic government will take power in Australia. In this instance Australians will be damn pleased that at least the option of becoming a refugee in a friendly country is opened to them. Think it can't happen? It did in Germany some 70 years ago. Who knows what will happen anywhere within the next 70 years?

    The people who are breaking the law or at least bending them to their furthest untested limit is the Australian government, who emprisons men women and children for months or years at a time.

    Not only is it heartless, it's also stupid and short sighted. When you abuse helpless people like this, it eventually comes back to haunt you. Think of the `stolen generation' for example. (for non-Aussie: in decades past the Australian government had a policy of forced assimilation for some aboriginal children, which ended up forcing unwilling children into foster homes over the wish of their parents. These people are seeking compensation now in Australian courts for years of neglect and abuse).

    Illegal who? | 51 comments (46 topical, 5 editorial, 0 hidden)
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