Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Recent posts at CIS below

See here for the blog. The CIS main page is here.

1. Census: Population Up 27 Million in Just 10 Years (Announcement)

2. Panel: The Illusionary Allure of Immigration Grand Bargains (Transcript and Video)

3. USCIS Does the Right Thing on Immigrant Investor Scam in the Mojave (Blog)

4. Obama's Immigration Warning (Blog)

5. Medical Cost Exposure Forcing States' Hands (Blog)

6. How to Revise the DREAM Act, Part II: The Permanent Administrative Visa (Blog)

7. Non-Accredited Language Schools Given More Time for F-1 Admissions (Blog)

8. Housing Prices' Upside from Local Enforcement (Blog)

9. Why a Revised DREAM Act Might Help American Immigration Policy (Blog)

10. Preserving the Border Insecurity Environment (Blog)

11. USCIS Further Waters Down Requirements for Investor Visas (Blog)

12. Dangerous Compassion? Conservatives on a Revised DREAM Act (Blog)

13. Mexican Senators Want Safe Passage for U.S.-Bound Central Americans (Blog)

14. Immigrant Entrepreneur Visas: A Solution in Search of a Problem? (Blog)

15. Case Study: When Klutz and Chutzpah Combine in the Immigration Business (Blog)

16. No Big Surprise: Obama Administration Not Fully Implementing Border Passport Requirements (Blog)

17. The Center's Negative Christmas List (Blog)

18. Amnesty Advocates Continue the Battle, Offer Differing Approaches (Blog)

A humane policy would be one that stopped the boats coming

By Philip Ruddock, a minister for immigration in the previous conservative government of Australia

ALL Australians very much lament the tragic loss of life that occurred on December 15, 2010, just off Christmas Island. Latest reports are that 48 people have died, and that the death toll could rise.

We owe it to the heroic efforts of our navy and Customs officers, who risked their own lives in the heavy seas, that more did not perish. Parents have lost children; children have lost parents. I express my deepest sympathy to the families of those killed and injured. Many others seeking to enter Australia by boat die far out to sea, out of sight.

Sadly, the latest tragedy was a realisation of our worst fears and in all likelihood will be repeated if Labor's policies do not change.

The Coalition had a humane policy that stopped the boats from taking the dangerous journeys that horrifically killed so many men, women and children just off Christmas Island. Our policy was targeted at making it tougher for people-smugglers to prey on desperate asylum-seekers. While both sides of politics recognise that co-operation with our regional neighbours and international partners is necessary, it can never be a one-way street.

While we are looking at what Indonesia may be able to do to assist, it is important to remember that they see this outcome as an own goal by Australia. Indonesian spokesmen have repeatedly referred to the need for Australia to "take the sugar off the table".

What is the sugar? It is the incentives that Australian policies give to people to seek to access Australia through Indonesia. Indonesia is just as anxious as us that this should stop.

The Howard government's so-called Pacific solution, excision of islands from the migration zone, returning boats in safety and temporary protection visas stopped the boats. We recognised that a suite of measures was necessary to give people-smugglers the message that Australia was not open for their business.

The issue of temporary protection visas rather than permanent visas meant that when conditions in source countries improved, those who could go back without fear of persecution did so, rather than stay in Australia indefinitely. Temporary protection visas are in accord with Australia's obligations under international humanitarian law.

The abolition of temporary protection visas helps people-smugglers sell Australia to prospective asylum-seekers as a place you can migrate to permanently rather than temporarily.

People-smugglers knew that when the Labor government abandoned the Pacific solution and temporary protection visas, this meant they once again had a product to sell and their cruel trade recommenced. The Australian ("Ruddock slams asylum policy") reported on November 24, 2010, that Department of Immigration and Citizenship officials warned then immigration minister Chris Evans on February 25, 2008, to "expect an upswing in boat arrivals after the Nauru detention centre was abandoned that month".

Also, while mandatory detention has ostensibly been maintained, there has certainly been a softening and the government markets its new regime as more humane, of shorter duration and less punitive. Given that more than 700 children remain detained, figures far higher than seen during the Howard government years, it is hard to see how Labor's policies have been more humane.

Nevertheless it has created an impression in the region that we are a softer touch for asylum-seekers.

Labor has failed to stop the boats. The Coalition government stopped the boats. This is not a slogan but an outcome of policy. When the Labor government came to power in November 2007, there had been an average of three boats a year under the Howard government's last six years in office and only four illegal boat arrivals in detention. There are now on average three boats a week under Labor and more than 6500 illegal boat arrivals in detention.

When we look at the growing protests, riots, self-harm, hunger strikes and breakouts in a detention network that is expanded well beyond its capacity, we can see that Labor's policies on boatpeople have simply failed.

Australia has a long and proud record of resettling refugees and those in need of protection.This is something that the Coalition wants to continue. During the election we committed to increasing our intake through the UN High Commissioner for Refugees by 1500 places to 7500 and also to introduce a private sponsorship program to bring in potentially another 1500 UNHCR-mandated refugees.

But at the same time we have the right and responsibility to enact laws that protect our borders and are consistent with our international obligations to protect refugees. This is a delicate balance that the Howard government was able to achieve. It achieved this by recognising that a package of measures was necessary, and that to remove any one of those measures put at risk the very effectiveness of the package.

The Coalition remains serious about stopping the boats. Offshore entry persons, those who arrive by boat, should be treated differently to discourage boat arrivals. We must put a stop to the tragedies from these awfully dangerous sea journeys.


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