Friday, June 29, 2012

Asylum Seekers

Australians are good at feeling guilty. We feel guilty all the time about everything that's wrong with the world.
Specifically, we feel guilty about the ongoing demise and unsolvable problem with our indigenous peoples.
Now, with the boats from Indonesia, full of refugees, capsizing and causing drownings on a huge scale, Australians feel responsible.

And so the debate rages, reaching a deadlock because our politicians, in some cases teary eyed, lament the human tragedy while being at loss on how to stem the flow.

I'm talking about desperate people who disregard the risks involved to make a journey to Christmas Island.
These people board ships from Indonesia but they are not Indonesians. They come from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq or other countries.
If they are seeking asylum then they have found it in Indonesia. But it isn't that simple. They have a plan and the plan is to get to Australia. Land of opportunity and a new life.
This isn't uniquely and Australian problem. All over the world economic refugees are migrating in huge numbers to find a better life. From China, they make their way to the U.S.
From Africa they migrate to Greece and Italy with the ultimate destination being central Europe.
Most of these economic refugees although not all of them are young men. With no prospects of a future in their home countries they consider the risky journey as acceptable risk. Chinese making their way to the U.S. face terrible deprivations and a long, difficult country hopping journey at a considerable cost of around $30,000 dollars. That's money they don't have which they borrow in expectation that they will pay off their debt when they reach their destination.
No doubt the refugees/asylum seekers/illegal immigrants have a similar story to tell. If only the truth were to come out. Unfortunately the game plan is to destroy all I.D. especially passports before they reach their desired destination. This guarantees a lengthy delay process where identity must be established and makes immediate deportation impossible.

This is the core of the problem rather than the issue of deaths at sea. Death by misadventure is not and should not be on our conscience. It is considered an acceptable risk by those who take on the journey and who pay people smugglers for the opportunity of a better life in a foreign country of their choice.

Further reading: The Snakehead, by Patrick Radden Keefe

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