Why Do People Migrate? Part 1: Facts

Chapters 5 › Unit 5: SCROLL DOWN FOR INSTRUCTIONS View instructions Hide instructions


Read this article and share your views with colleagues. Is the Australian "Pacific solution" against human rights? What do you think of Nauru and the other "prison islands"?

As always, you can share your view by writing in your own journal, but also commenting on what others have written.

Australia's boat people


As with the recent wave of migrant children who made irregular entry into the USA, the issue here is not whether Australia can afford to accept 267 people who fled deplorable conditions at home but rather how bad things have to be at home before migrants officially become refugees. Most often the official route to immigration involves an application made from one's home country, without the need to expend large funds and risk ones life by crossing borders illegally. However some people may be afraid to stay any longer particularly if the government will react negatively to those known to submit applications. Others may feel that by showing up in person they may jump the queue or arouse sympathy when they would otherwise not be admitted. And some will not even bother to apply in the new country but will remain outside the law figuring they won't be deported.

To my mind, the deplorable thing about the Australian situation is not that people are being held offshore but rather that the decisions are taking so long. Surely as long as health and safety standards are being met, migrants should not object to being held anywhere for a period of a couple months which is how long it should take to make a preliminary determination. If the decision is positive they could then move immediately to the accepting country, while if negative they leave the facility and go back home or to a country that would accept them. Only in the event of appeals would it be necessary to stay in a facility for longer terms. Ideally such facilities would not be located offshore or in Australia, but in mainland countries near where the migrants started. It would be quicker and safer for the migrants to reach them, and easier to determine what conditions really existed at their home.

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