Tuesday, November 03, 2009

The new boat-people invasion.

There are some 40 million people in the world who are classed as UNHCR refugees, asylum seekers, displaced persons or illegals of one kind or another. How many of those should or can Australia take in? The more Australia is seen as being a 'soft touch', the more will try to risk making their way directly to our shores, one way or another.

A country is supposed to grant refugee status to people coming across from their neighbouring borders. Australia is usually reached by people fleeing over many borders across continents like Asia. if genuine asylum seekers, why were they not granted asylum in any of those other countries? Did they even seek it anywhere else?

Comparing the current situation with our Jewish experience, the proportion of those who are actually fleeing persecution and extermination as when we European Jews tried to escape the Holocaust in the 30s, or other Europeans escaping from Communism after the war, is relatively small. Western European nations as well as the Anglo-world closed their doors in our faces before the war, while survivors after the war fared little better. There were also Jewish 'boat people' trying to reach pre-Israel Palestine, most ending in the British detention camps in Cyprus.Everyone knew who we were and why we were there,- unlike today.

Nowadays, all of us fair-minded Australians would like to help those who make the dangerous trek to our shores by sea, especially families with women and children. But most are single males looking for a better life, hoping to bring their families later while paying a lot of money to the traffickers in the meantime. If the latter would at least put them on to safe boats, one could even forgive them,- but they don't.

I think that the Government does have a responsibility to assess fairly whom to help first, whom and how many to give priority for the right to become Australians eventually, in order to ensure that we can sustain the fragile Australian environment and maintain the quality of life which is so eagerly sought by all these others.

There were few of these concerns necessary when we Jews were in that situation, but we know that they were still considered by the Governments of the day.America had a quota system for immigrants from each European country. Our turn arrived some 10years after we applied while in a DP camp in Italy. We had resettled in Australia by then of course and were no longer interested.

It is important to thoroughly vet who is allowed in these days given the variety of reasons for those leaving their native countries.Some are genuinely fleeing fot their lives and if they pay the people-smugglers, so be it. But then they should have their papers, showing who they are and from where they come,- not throw away their IDs as they are told to do by the traffickers! At least those who arrive by air and overstay their visas,do come with valid passports, visas and all kinds of IDs to support their claims when they are caught and have to be assessed.

How do we know who these boat people are then? After WW2, plenty of Nazis escaped even to Australia, while I heard a victim of Cambodian atrocities complaining that the torturers are living in their vicinity right here in Australia.How can the government assess whether among the arrivals there aren't straightforward criminals, let alone various war criminals and fanatics of all kinds trying to escape their own justice systems? Do we really want to attract them to Australia?

That is the dilemma PM Rudd is facing,- he knows that we, the people do worry about being flooded by too many extremists, as well as by many others who may not integrate easily into our Western way of life.

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