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IMMIGRATION AND VIOLENCE October 22, 2008

Posted by wmmbb in Australian Politics, Humankind/Planet Earth.
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The unquestioned assumption of the application of violence to public policy problems, and the problems related to unauthorized immigration is an example, is that it works.

At best, it proponents are arguing that containing the problem so that it is a small problem rather than a large one. Then the familiar pattern of violence producing violence emerges with the emergence of a repressive state mechanism, even if they are outsourced, along with the dehumanization of the people involved. The fundamental problems are not addressed. In this case, given the underlying long term issues, related to climate change among other causes, immigration is one area where nonviolence might be understood as providing more sustainable and humane long term solutions.

I am not a big fan of Immigration Minister Chris Evans, but I agree with his comments, as reported by ABC Online:

“I don’t think punishment of people once they have reached Australia is an appropriate public policy response,” he said.

“This Government doesn’t see long term detention and punishment of men women and children as an appropriate policy response and I am happy to argue that in any forum in this country.”

Mr Evans says it is an adoption of a new direction in detention policy.

“That you maintain strong border security messages, you are actively engaged in trying to prevent people smuggling but that you treat people humanely that have arrived in this country.

“I think that’s a proper balance for a democracy like Australia’s.”

The context of the comments was the Opposition’s commitment to the previous government’s immigration policies:

The Federal Opposition has criticised the Government’s immigration detention policy, suggesting recent changes will prompt an increase in unauthorised arrivals.

Liberal Senators used a Senate estimates committee hearing last night to question Immigration Minister Chris Evans over moves to scrap temporary protection visas and a decision to abandon the previous government’s Pacific Solution.

The Opposition says several recent instances of people caught trying to travel to Australia without authorisation are proof people smuggling is on the rise.

But Senator Evans rejected the suggestions and says border protection measures have not been changed, but the treatment of people who do arrive has been.

I suggest that inevitably there will be a need to increase the numbers of immigrants that are affected by displacements and wars, and that needs to be a coordinated international response in anticipation of a growing problem. The problems of settlement can be difficult but not impossible if the case is made to the people, and money that otherwise would be spent on people smugglers would be better employed in the establishing themselves in their new homes. An effective solution requires the problem be addressed at it source.

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