Migration Policy: Australia

On a map, Australia looks very isolated. But, the world’s fourth most populated country (Indonesia) is but a short distance to the north. They have had their own refugee crisis for years–and the mechanics are very similar to what is faced by the Greeks and Italians.

People smugglers put migrants on flimsy boats and take them to international waters, and abandon them–assuming that Australian ships will bring them ashore.

Handling the matter has been a controversy for Australia since the year 2010 when Kevin Rudd was prime minister. Australia made arrangements with both Indonesia and the tiny island nation of Nauru to build detention centers. It was made absolutely clear that boat people would be refused entry into Australia. (Most of the boat people have made their way from Iran and Afghanistan to Indonesia to attempt asylum in Australia.)

Today, the boats have stopped. No one is dying at sea trying to get to Australia.  Word has spread that life on Manus and Nauru is worse than it is where they are. Admittedly, the conditions are draconian in both places. Suicides, riots and psychological stress–especially among children–have occurred at high levels.

The majority of the migrants have been resettled in the USA in exchange for Australia taking in migrants that had illegally entered the USA. (No Somalis or Iranians have been allowed in the USA.) Many in Australia were shocked that Australia turned down New Zealand’s offer to take some of the migrants. But, I agree with the refusal. Relocating the migrants to other countries would encourage the smugglers and lead to more deaths.

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