On a highway in Arizona, south of Phoenix, a sign reads: DANGER — PUBLIC WARNING — TRAVEL NOT RECOMMENDED - Active Drug and Human Smuggling Area - Visitors May Encounter Armed Criminals and Smuggling Vehicles Traveling at High Rates of Speed.

There are no such signs on the roads of Christmas Island, outside Villawood, or by the Curtin detention centre in north-west WA.

Australia’s and America’s immigration issues bear almost no resemblance, except that people die on boats from Java, and they die crossing the miserable mesquite plains of America’s south.

As Australia fails to break its long impasse on asylum seekers, a look at the situation in America may provide insight into the sorts of issues we could confront in five, 10 or 20 years, if for any reason our borders become truly overwhelmed. The notion of people settling illegally in large numbers in our suburbs is unthinkable to Australians. Yet America has had this problem for decades.

The tenor of the US immigration argument is different to Australia. Attacking illegal aliens can benefit a state politician, but neither side of federal politics wants to shake the tree too hard.

So many US businesses, particularly in the service industries, are utterly reliant on the labour of Latino people with questionable origins. Every American benefits from their presence, every single day.

From the time of Ronald Reagan until now, under Barack Obama, there has been a consistent federal reluctance to punish the millions of stateless children born to unauthorised arrivals inside the US.

These non-citizens have fought in Iraq and are still in Afghanistan. They attend schools and hold jobs. They are generally not held responsible for being born across a border. Nor does their Catholic religion trouble Americans.

Texas, which is the largest and richest US state and shares the longest border with Mexico, is in the hands of a Republican governor but stays silent on illegal immigration. It reacts against drug runners, but it does not make an issue of illegals: it needs them. California is the same.

In 2010, US Customs and Border Protection apprehended more than half a million unauthorised aliens. The federal government views these numbers as manageable but Arizona, which has fewer resources than Texas or California and is in the grip of a crime epidemic, sees itself as completely overwhelmed.

Arizona, believing that federal immigration authorities have failed to address unauthorised aliens, took matters in hand by giving its state police powers to arrest and detain suspected aliens, a third of whom enter America across its border.

By some accounts, they’re rednecks. By others, they’re drowning because Washington has chosen to let them carry the nation’s burden.

On Monday, the US Supreme Court killed off three of four Arizona laws by stating, in essence, that immigration was a federal, not a state, issue.

One of the dissenting judges, Antonin Scalia, said Arizona should be allowed to enforce its own immigration laws because the federal government had gone missing from the state.

We do not in Australia, yet, have issues with states trying to pass immigration laws. But that time may come if there is a flood of refugees from a major war, or even sooner if states become frustrated with the persistent inability of federal leaders to address the issue.

A question to ponder: who bears the brunt of Australia’s federal helplessness on asylum seekers? Is it the Commonwealth? Or is it the states?

As the feds fail to legislate, and run government by committee, the Australian states may start reexamining the very meaning of federation.

Not with plans to secede, or by creating laws to police asylum seekers, but the states could start to demand that the Commonwealth actually functions as a Commonwealth.

The states have a role in the asylum issue, because they increasingly accommodate people while they await processing. It would be good to see them become more forceful with our ever-quavering Commonwealth.

It was federal indecision that forced Arizona to act and the US Supreme Court, while knocking the state’s proposed laws back, was not without sympathy.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, delivering the majority judgment, noted that unauthorised aliens comprised 6 per cent of Arizona’s population and were responsible “for a disproportionate share of serious crime”, along with property damage and public safety risks.

The federal government is responsible for securing America’s borders and in 2010 – under the supposedly tolerant President Obama—forcibly removed 387,242 aliens, and persuaded 476,405 people to return south of the border.

These are the highest numbers of removals in US history but there has been little complaint because most were picked up on unrelated criminal matters. But Arizona wants more.

The US Government has channeled most of its border and immigration spending to Texas and California, leaving the Arizona border exposed and its cities suffering crime waves.

But the Supreme Court said that federal law must remain dominant and that states could not go about creating immigration policies by allowing police to act as immigration officers.

Arizona created a misdemeanor forbidding the “willful failure to complete or carry an alien registration document”. This became known as the “show me your papers” law.

The court overruled it, saying the penalty already existed in federal law. The very formation of the federation of American states was to create a “harmonious whole”, so that states would not replicate existing federal laws.

The second Arizona law had no federal counterpart, but the majority of judges still did not like it.

This provision made it a misdemeanor for an unauthorised alien to apply for work in Arizona.

Under federal law, it is the employer who is fined for employing illegals. The Arizona law attempted to reverse the blame. It was an ingenious legislative notion, given that established thinking in the US has been to target the employers who have been exploiting and underpaying Latino workers for decades.

The court found that the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, introduced under Ronald Reagan, made “a deliberate choice not to impose criminal penalties on aliens who seek, or engage in, unauthorized employment”.

So they knocked that one back.

The third Arizona law provided that a state cop could, without a warrant, arrest a person if there was cause to believe the person had committed an offence that could cause him or her to be deported from the US.

But the court said that under federal law, it is (oddly) not a crime for a removable alien to be in the United States. A suspected alien may not be arrested, but given a time and date to appear at a hearing. If they do not appear, a deportation order can be issued.

This law, said the court, would have given Arizona police greater powers than federal immigration officers, who have a great deal of discretion on who should be deported.

“This would allow the State to achieve its own immigration policy,” said the court. “The result could be unnecessary harassment of some aliens (for instance, a veteran, college student, or someone assisting with a criminal investigation) whom federal officials determine should not be removed.

“A decision on removability requires a determination whether it is appropriate to allow a foreign national to continue living in the United States. Decisions of this nature touch on foreign relations and must be made with one voice.”

Arizona got to keep its fourth law, at least for now. This allows for police to contact the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, to determine the immigration status of a person they stop, detain, or arrest. But they may only do this if the person was picked up on a non-immigration matter.

The court believes this law comes with safeguards that would prevent cops treating all Latinos as suspects.

Detainees must not be presumed to be illegals if they provide a valid Arizona driver’s license or similar ID, and police may not make inquiries to ICE on the basis of “race, colour or national origin”.

At the heart of the decision is an attempt to ensure that the legitimate and huge Latino population in the US is not harassed as they go about their business. 

The court said that power brings responsibility and that laws had to be based on “a political will informed by searching, thoughtful, rational civic discourse”. It said Arizona may be legitimately frustrated, but it could not undermine federal law.

A scathing Justice Scalia said the majority got it wrong. He said there was no reason why Arizona could not make it a crime for any illegal alien to remain in Arizona.

Scalia said the federal government had failed Arizona. “Are the sovereign states at the mercy of the Federal Executive’s refusal to enforce the nation’s immigration laws?” he asked.

The judge pointed out that while his court was considering the Arizona laws, the Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, announced a program exempting from immigration enforcement some 1.4 million illegal immigrants under the age of 30.

Those people could remain in unlawfully if they came to the United States under the age of 16; had continuously resided in the US for at least five years; had attended school or the military; and not been convicted of a serious crime.

US immigration officials were directed to defer any action against this group for a period of two years. In other words, until after the next election, when Obama had ensured the crucial Latino vote.

The judge was not amused by this cynicism. He said the federal government had abandoned Arizona, yet took a stick to it for trying to address its problems.

Justice Scalia doubted if the US states would ever agreed to have entered the Union if they knew there would be judgments like this. 

“Arizona bears the brunt of the country’s illegal immigration problem,” he said. “Its citizens feel themselves under siege by large numbers of illegal immigrants who invade their property, strain their social services, and even place their lives in jeopardy.

“Federal officials have been unable to remedy the problem, and indeed have recently shown that they are unwilling to do so.

“Thousands of Arizona’s estimated 400,000 illegal immigrants — including not just children but men and women under 30 — are now assured immunity from enforcement, and will be able to compete openly with Arizona citizens for employment.

“Arizona has moved to protect its sovereignty — not in contradiction of federal law, but in complete compliance with it. The laws under challenge here do not extend or revise federal immigration restrictions, but merely enforce those restrictions more effectively.

“If securing its territory in this fashion is not within the power of Arizona, we should cease referring to it as a sovereign state. I dissent.”

It is sometimes said that dissenting opinions are the ones to watch. Australian states should examine Scalia’s opinion. The Commonwealth needs to be reminded that dysfunction undermines the harmonious whole.

Paul Toohey’s American Story column is available on Saturdays on News Ltd iPad apps.
tooheyp@newsltd.com.au

Most commented

48 comments

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    • Gregg says:

      07:30am | 01/07/12

      It would be interesting for you to report on what actually happens to the half million or so that are apprehended Paul.

      The US just sends heaps back across the border, do they not?

    • PeterE says:

      07:38am | 01/07/12

      Both the US & Australia have the same affliction. And in fact much of Europe has it too.

      Why?
      Because all are affluent countries who are too soft of illegal immigration. It has little to do with push factors and lots & lots to do with pull factors: easy welfare, easy public housing, special access to uni.


      We need to get serious on this issue
      If parliament is at an impasse CALL AN ELECTION.

    • PJ says:

      08:48am | 01/07/12

      No politian is going to stop the flow or limit the benefits to Asylum seekers.

      It would be political suicide to do so.

      The Asylum Seeker System is a living breathing entity now that suckles a number of powerful lobby groups, who can play killer PC cards.

      Since 2008 the UK has seen a 41 percent increase in its Asylum Seeker approvals and currently they lead other European countries as they have softer benefit rules.

      In Australia we must accept that we cannot stop the ever increasing flow of Asylum seekers, but we can change the way it impacts our society. In an early comment I submitted, which I think fell foul of the sensor, I suggested we should be educating the Australian about the Asylum Seekers, not just the Asylum Seeker about the Australian.

    • Joe says:

      02:43pm | 01/07/12

      PJ,

      You are talking absolute rubbish.  Howard stopped the boats while sticking to the refugee convention and without massively increasing Australias refugee intake.  If Gillard can’t do the same then she should move over and allow someone else into the job who can.

    • fml says:

      08:42am | 02/07/12

      PeterE,

      “It has little to do with push factors and lots & lots to do with pull factors: easy welfare, easy public housing, special access to uni.”

      That is absolute rubbish. Don’t want so many refugees tell your pollies to stop creating wars. During Howard there was a downturn in refugees across the world, why? because the middle east was relatively stable.

      We are not going to get anywhere as long as this rhetoric of they just want to come and get our riches is discarded and people start pulling their head out of the sand.

    • marley says:

      09:14am | 02/07/12

      @fml - I’m sorry, but push factors alone do not explain patterns of irregular migration.  While this article is not about asylum seekers, it does make it clear that there are vast movements of people looking not for protection but for better economic opportunities.  Mexicans slipping across the American border, Chinese overstaying their 457 visas, are motivated by the same things:  jobs, a chance to make money, perhaps a debt to be paid to the smugglers, whatever.  The pull factors for these people are quite strong.  And amongst our boat people, there are undoubtedly people motivated by exactly the same things.  The things that drive most irregular migrants (as opposed to asylum seekers) have very little to do with wars or persecution.

      As for the downturn in global asylum numbers during the Howard years, I dealt with that at length in one of the pieces on the weekend.  Suffice it to say that the sudden drop in boat numbers in 2002 had nothing to do with a decline in global push factors in that year, and the increase in 2009 had nothing to do with an increase in them either.  During both those periods, global numbers were stable.  It was domestic policy that caused the Australian experience to deviate from the larger trend.

    • fml says:

      11:23am | 02/07/12

      Marley,

      I didn’t ready your posts on the weekend, but what were the domestic policy for each nation that caused a global decrease in trend?

      I am sorry I have to disagree, it was not howard, Maybe you would care to link where you posted so I may read?

      Marley I agree, push factors alone does not alone explain migratory reasons, economics does play a major part.

      I took PeterE post to be about asylum seekers because he used the term “Illegal Immigration”. Looking back I may have misinterpreted. 

      But I will further explain my case in the global downturn of refugees. In 2002 the U.N peace keepers Arrived in Afghanistan, in 2005 a state of emergency was declared in Sri lanka and the numbers picked up, in 2007 there was a US troop surge in Iraq and in 2008 there were issues in both Sri lanka and afghanistan.

      As seen in this http://tinyurl.com/6mthhnc image which is sourced from
      UNHCR Asylum Levels and Trends in Industrialized Countries (2005-2010), UNHCR Statistical Online Database (Asylum seekers originating from, 2001-2004), UNHCR Statistical Yearbook (2004).

    • marley says:

      01:00pm | 02/07/12

      @fml - if you go to the article “Parliament is Broken” and scroll down to Dobbo’s comment at 12:46 you’ll see the exchange:

      http://www.thepunch.com.au/articles/parliament-is-broken-time-for-an-election/

      In a nutshell, while push factors are important, so are government responses.  And my comments in the link explain my grounds for thinking so.  In a nutshell, our asylum seeker movement dropped immediately after the imposition of the Pacific Solution but before the global drop in asylum numbers, and our increase in intake took place after the abolition of the Pacific Solution but at a time when global numbers were flat.

    • Matchofbris says:

      08:14am | 01/07/12

      Riveting piece. It certainly gives me a little more sympathy for Arizona.

      We should consider ourselves lucky that our immigration problems are minuscule in comparison. “Girt by sea” has its benefits.

    • PJ says:

      08:53am | 01/07/12

      Not miniscule. I read an article that consider GDP, liveable land mass and sustainable resources and concluded that Australia is already half way to the brink.

    • Martin H says:

      10:34am | 01/07/12

      Asylum seekers arriving by boat make up less than 0.03% of our population, surely any fair minded person would consider this figure as being extremely minuscule. 3 asylum seekers arriving by boat for every 10,000 Aussies and all we hear about is how we are being swamped, give me a break.

      The number of boat arrivals in Australia is very small when compared
      to the number of unauthorised arrivals in other parts of the world and Australia accepts only 0.03% of the world’s refugees. At this rate it would take 150 years to fill the MCG with asylum seekers coming by boat.

      The vast majority of asylum seekers do not arrive in Australia by boat, they arrive in Australia by plane.

      It’s time the political point scoring and scaremongering stopped, our politicians should start behaving like mature adults, grow up everyone.

    • pa_kelvin says:

      12:23pm | 01/07/12

      @Martin H   Sadly at last months rate it would only take 1 year.

    • andye says:

      12:35pm | 01/07/12

      @PJ - Even per capita we are down the list of countries.

    • Norbert says:

      12:39pm | 01/07/12

      PJ - the article was probably conceived to show that outcome. Australia’s “carrying capacity” depends on the assumptions you start out with. The assumptions are usually chosen by people with an interest in the outcome to show that either: a) we have too many people and are heading for disaster or b) we will soon have too many people and are headed for disaster.

      The facts are that food production is limited by water. Water is only limited by energy to desalinate it. We have lots of space and vast energy reserves. Therefore, if we really has to, Australia could support hundreds of millions, even billions. Food would be more expensive but it’s entirely achievable.

      Many desert nations smaller than ours support higher population densities. Its a question of will not possibility.

    • Labor are Useless says:

      02:57pm | 01/07/12

      Martin,

      Your figures are way off.

      Now that Labor is rolling out the OPEN BORDERS SOLUTION and combining it with their previous RED CARPET SOLUTION numbers are increasing towards 2000 per month.  This will become the new norm about 24,000 per year.  That would be about 0.1% per year.  Within 10 years about 1% of Australia’s population would have arrived by boat and another 2 or 3% would have arrived as a result of family reunion from these people. 

      Most of these people would be young and they will have a large welfare dependency ratio as we know from immigration department studies, placing enormous strain on our already stressed government budgets.

      If you want to live in a shit hole there are plenty of countries around the world for you to move too, but please don’t turn my country into one.

      Thankyou

    • CD says:

      08:27am | 01/07/12

      Another interesting read Paul.  I have a friend who was an illegal who sought a better life and I have to admit has given much to the USA in having fought in Iraq and is now working for the govt.

      I never knew until recently. Changed my opinion of illegals.  The whole family is 24 karat solid gold. The children were born in the USA. Both parents are now citizens.  I guess that’s just one good story among the bad.

    • Gregg says:

      08:47am | 01/07/12

      @Matchy,
      ”  “Girt by sea” has its benefits. “
      Hope you feel that way when flotillas start arriving across the Indian Ocean to not just Cocos Keeling Islands but all the way to WA from African continent.

      Maybe someone might decide by then the UN Convention on Asylum Seeking needs revisiting for at least our own interpretation and some more positive policies.

    • Gregg says:

      10:17am | 01/07/12

      That was a response to Matchofbris just above a bit.

    • Grace says:

      08:51am | 01/07/12

      “The federal government is responsible for securing America’s borders”.  I think you meant to say “US borders”.  US is not America.  America is US, Canada, Central and South America and Alaska.

    • Mr Pedantic says:

      10:04am | 01/07/12

      @ Grace - My ex was from the USA and she always referred to herself as an “American” as did all of her friends. The USA and Canada are in the North American continent, further south is Central America and below that is the South American continent. The whole North and South continents can be referred to as the “America’s”. So referring to the USA borders as America’s borders is correct.

    • marley says:

      10:09am | 01/07/12

      Actually, back there in North America, the term “America” (singular)  is understood by all to apply to the US of America and not to the Americas (plural).  No Canadian or Mexican would regard themselves as being “American” or think that “America’s borders” were anything other than the borders between our respective countries and the US.

    • marley says:

      08:55am | 01/07/12

      The problem with this piece is that it conflates illegal migrants with asylum seekers.  The vast majority of Mexicans and other Latin Americans illegally in the US are not asylum seekers.  They are more akin to our floating population of overstayers than they are to boat arrivals.  So, to compare like with like, you have to compare how we deal with overstayers, how we manage, identify and remove them (if we do), or prevent them coming in the first place.

      The asylum issue is a different one - once someone is in the refugee determination system, whether in the US or Australia, the processes and outcomes are very similar (except that the US doesn’t, of course, impose mandatory detention).  That status of the asylum seekers is quite different from that of illegal aliens/overstayers, and their management is different as well.

    • Wayne says:

      09:53am | 01/07/12

      Unfortunately, Marley , the concepts of “asylum seeker” and “illegal migrant”  are not as wide apart as you make out.

      If I had a dollar for each time I’ve heard refugee activists forthrightly argue that people moving from poorer regions to richer regions is covered/legitimized by the Refugee Convention (and we as a rich country should accommodate it)—I’d be a millionaire

    • marley says:

      12:30pm | 01/07/12

      @Wayne - the difference is very clear in American law, and for that matter in most countries’ laws.  An asylum seeker is someone who has applied for asylum.  He may not be a genuine refugee, but he’s someone who has filled out a form asking for protection. 

      This article isn’t about them;  it’s about people who have simply crossed the border to work illegally, and are doing their best to avoid contact with Immigration.  Asylum seekers, on the other hand, generally seek out that contact.  As I say, that doesn’t mean they can meet the Convention definition, but it does distinguish them from the people with whom Arizona is having problems.

      Last year, about 75,000 people applied for asylum in the US.  This article is not about them.  It is about the rest - the people that snuck across the border and of course the overstayers.  The true comparison is not with our boat arrivals but with our own illegal migrants aka overstayers.

    • TChong says:

      08:57am | 01/07/12

      Does anyone know how a ” non citizen”  could join a defence force?
      ( ” these non citizens have fought in Iraq…,” ) Do the US forces simply not care who they enlist? ie are they such a separate entity that they need not comply with citizenship requirements?

      Australian borders should be far easier to control.
      A paramilitary coast guard , or a greatly expanded navy / ariel surveilance would / should / could intercept arrivals along the northern coast.
      Still worth remembering that ( historically)  the majority of ” illegals ” arrive by plane, not boat.

    • Brendan says:

      10:39am | 01/07/12

      @TChong
      If you are a permanent resident (green card holder) you are eligible to join the United States Armed forces. If you are a temporary resident (strudent etc) who has happens to be a nurse or doctor or someone with needed foreign language skills you may also join in some cases.

    • marley says:

      10:52am | 01/07/12

      @tchong - don’t know the answer to your first question, except that lots of Canadians have served in the American armed forces, so maybe they don’t have a citizenship or residence requirement.

      As to controlling the borders, yes, it’s easier than managing a land border, but even so, I think you underestimate the difficulty of patrolling thousands of square miles of sea, or of getting ships (which move pretty slowly, after all) to the interception point even if you know there’s a boat out there.

    • PhilD says:

      03:47pm | 01/07/12

      During the Vietnam/American war the US used to accept some Australians, Canadians, South Koreans, Philipinos and Mexicans in their armed services. If only to become cooks.
      It was one way of earning a green card.

    • Nyani says:

      09:52am | 01/07/12

      Marley are you an indigenous person by any chance? You are definitely in ‘dream time’ .
      This equation is so absolutely correct, we have no asylum seekers what so ever, there are no conflicts that could afford that term.
      Afghanistan being the closest one, however even here it is only a civil disobedience of a warlike tribe that have been in conflict since time began.
      Australia has only welfare/revenue seekers invading our shores under pretext of asylum to avoid the term (illegal) to meet the UN demand to spread the word of ISLAM.

    • marley says:

      12:34pm | 01/07/12

      @Nyani - an asylum seeker is someone who, wait for it, has filed an application for asylum. We get a few thousand a year, the Americans get about 75,000 a year.  That is a fact.  You may not agree that they are refugees but asylum seekers they most definitely are.

      By the way, you do know that Tamils aren’t Muslim?  Nor are most of the Chinese who constitute a major component of onshore asylum claims.

    • Rocksteady says:

      02:59pm | 01/07/12

      Nyani - What a load of shit. You are completely deluded and have no grasp on the facts. By your definition the Jews had no need to escape Nazi Germany.

      Can tell you don’t think twice about the 50,000 people who overstay their visa’s each year to work illegally in Australia. Go back to your cave mate, it’s the 21st century.

    • marley says:

      03:32pm | 01/07/12

      @Rocksteady - just to be clear, there are not 50,000 overstayers a year - there are 50,000 at any one time.

    • pa_kelvin says:

      09:59am | 01/07/12

      I was really hoping for a story on aliens….Talk about disapointed.:(

    • Taryn Harvey says:

      09:59am | 01/07/12

      Unless Australia’s humanitarian intake grows by a large amount in a small period of time creating a huge impact on state provided services (beyond resettlement services which as far as I know are still provided by the Cth)  then I can’s see a situation arising where Australian states would have the rationale to act. In the Australian case the “helplessness” largely refers to the political impase on how to receive arrivals and where/how to set up planned pathways, and where arrivals to Australia are mich more identifiable and measurable and where the pathway it to apply for asylum. and we still have a limit on humanitarian intake.  It’s an entirely different experience from the US.

      For Arizona the trigger is obvious - it’s location as a border state means that many of the Latinos coming across the border settle there, being absorbed into that states community where they are largely invisible in a state with a high Latino population.  It is a practical and day to day issue, hence the impetus. What would it be here?  Unless boat arrivals start making it directly to the mainland undetected rather than Christmas Island and start making their way from the north to major cities and bypassing any processing altogether, or unles the level of humanitarian intake increases by a significant degree in a short period of time, then I’m not sure that Toohey’s suggestion would play out.

    • 81 says:

      10:53am | 01/07/12

      Another problem the US faces with its southern borders.

      LOS ANGELES – While hundreds of Mexican soldiers are deserting the army to join drug trafficking gangs, California is facing the opposite problem: A growing number of gang members here have infiltrated the U.S. Armed Forces in order to receive military training.

      “Many older gang members are taking care of their newer members so that they maintain a clean criminal record and thus can have unrestricted access to the Army or guns,” says an anti-gang official. “We have noticed that in common crimes, gang members are forced to give the name of another member of the group that already has a record so that he gets written up and helps the others to remain clean.”

      The infiltration of gang members into the Armed Forces must be taken seriously because it represents an important risk for local and national security, says the former DEA agent.

    • marley says:

      01:24pm | 01/07/12

      It’s not the biggest, either. Alaska is.

    • Little Joe says:

      03:38pm | 01/07/12

      Texans still reckon it’s the biggest.

    • Robinoz says:

      12:59pm | 01/07/12

      The two significant differences in Australian asylum seekers and those on US borders is that most of ours are muslims, which has its own problems for our country. Second, when they land in Indonesia with their documents and bank cards etc, they are no longer subject to persecution (if they ever were). In fact Indonesia is a country chock full of muslims, so they should feel more at home than here with the infidels they despise. Our government should not be processing these people as refugee asylum seekers because they have already escaped any persecution. They should be considered illegal entrants and sent back to wherever they came from. In fact, most should be repatriated to the utopian Middle Eastern countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran where they can follow their sharia law and Islamic nonsense to their heart’s content.

    • PhilD says:

      04:03pm | 01/07/12

      Tongue in cheek I would say only those with conviction should be allowed to come to Australia by boat. Australia was colonised by the right people at the right time. This new wave is not good.
      Tamils leaving Sri Lanka for asylum should go back to their homeland in India - Tamil Nadu or another neighbour nearby.
      Afghans leaving Afghanistan for asylum should go back to their original stans or places or another neighbour nearby.

    • The American Solution says:

      03:16pm | 01/07/12

      If Australia could get the US to agree to take any Asylum Seekers arriving by unauthorized boat in Australia into the US and Australia could take say two US illegals immigrants in return.  And to add to the attractiveness of the deal, the Asylum Seekers sent by Australia could be resettled in remote villages close to the US-Mexican border.  I don’t think too many Asylum Seekers would be prepared to pay $20,000 to get into the US, with little prospect of family reunion and little prospect of getting welfare.

    • Lorraine says:

      03:44pm | 01/07/12

      Good old USA. They seem to have forgotten that Arizona, Montana, Colorado, Texas, California, New Mexico were once part of Mexico
      before it was sold to them by a Frenchman who did not own it.
      They have also forgotten that their country would come to a standstill if it weren’t for the cheap labour provided by the same Mexicans they so degrade.

    • marley says:

      08:00pm | 01/07/12

      Interesting version you have there of US history.  I expect the Americans don’t remember it because it isn’t correct.

      For the record, the Louisiana Purchase was made in 1803, a few years before Mexico broke away from Spain. The territories sold to the Americans had been in French hands since 1682.  Montana was never Spanish.

      But of course, California, Arizona and most of New Mexico and Texas were not part of the Louisiana purchase anyway.  The Mexicans ceded them to the Americans after the 1846-48 war.  The French had nothing to do with it.

      Would the country come to a standstill without cheap labour?  Possibly.  Is that a reason not to have issues with illegal immigration?

    • Johnno says:

      08:54pm | 01/07/12

      Supporters/sympathisers of the irregular boat arrivals trot out the overstayer argument as if it somehow legitimises the irregulars. Overstayers aren’t a problem as they are working, can’t get welfare and are adapted to Australia’s English speaking secular culture.

    • marley says:

      07:49am | 02/07/12

      Tell that to the Americans.  They seem to have a problem with “overstayers” - or haven’t you read the article? 

      And as a matter of fact, I’m not sure how you think the overstayers are “adapted to Australia’s English speaking secular culture” when most of them are Asians from very different cultures indeed.

    • sickofwhitemanscrap says:

      09:10am | 02/07/12

      PhilD says, Australia was colonised by the right people at the right time, is pretty much a BIG INSULT to Aboriginal people, try telling that to Aboriginal people, yuh bloody ignorant foreigner.

    • stoneage liberal says:

      04:21pm | 02/07/12

      Sick of etc. I think you will find that colonisation is the correct term, it does not imply that there were not people before. To be honest I think you will find that the British were one of the lesser of the colonising evils around at the time. Take a look at some of the French nations (cambodia, vietnam) or some of the ex portugese colonies or even some of the earlier corporate colonies (small pox was not purposefully spread here re: Hudson bay trading company).  This is not to say that wrongs were not done to the indigenous people however your angst could be far better directed.

    • TimR says:

      12:18pm | 02/07/12

      So America is dependent on using illegal migrants as cheap workers. How is that comparable to asylum seekers coming here and going on welfare? I would have no problem with asylum seekers if they got no handouts and instead were washing my car for $5 an hour, I do however have a problem with them when my taxes are raised so that they can sit at home and do nothing.

 

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