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NewsReal Looks at the World: This Week, Australia

November 21, 2009

While Janet Napolitano and other members of the administration of Barack Obama are spearheading efforts in this country to confer full rights to illegal aliens and make our southern border as secure as the Maginot line, it may be illuminating to see how other countries are dealing with the problem of illegal immigration, and failing.

One country currently experiencing its own public debate over illegal border crossings is Australia. In fact, that country has been occupied of late with an embarrassing incident that can only be described as an imbroglio.

A group of 78 mainly Sri Lankan illegal immigrants sailed from Colombo, Sri Lanka’s capital, for the long five-week journey to Australia. As they approached Christmas Island in the Pacific (an Australian territory), they either accidentally or deliberately set fire to their vessel. The fire caught the attention of the Australian Navy, which placed the illegals on an Australia-flagged vessel called the “Oceanic Viking.”

The question now was what to do with them?

Australia has a left-of-center government. Deporting the Sri Lankans, who are so ethnically and culturally different from the typical Aussie, would not be perceived as being the politically correct thing to do. And immigrant rights groups were already starting to accuse the government of racism. To further complicate matters, Sri Lanka doesn’t really want them back anyway. The Sri Lankans on the ship were Tamils, and that group was on the losing side of that country’s recently concluded and bloody civil war. After decades of conflict, Sri Lanka is an economic basket case, and 78 fewer Tamil mouths to feed would not be missed.

The Australians now had a dilemma on their hands. If these were political refugees, taking them in would make the government look good on the international stage and satisfy domestic critics. But these were not political refugees; they were economic, and the government feared that allowing them to settle would set a precedent and encourage future boat people to try their luck.

Australia’s government thought it through, and came upon a novel solution: the Ocean Viking was to set sail at once and drop the refugees off—in Indonesia!

There were two problems with this plan: 1) the Indonesians didn’t want them either; and 2) the illegals wanted nothing to do with Indonesia. They wanted to go to Australia. They demanded to go to Australia.

That’s when things got ugly.

When the Ocean Viking docked in an Indonesian port, the Sri Lankans refused to get off the ship! For over six weeks, they kept the situation at a stalemate. They threatened violence against any attempt at forcing them to leave the ship, even threatening to kill themselves en masse if any effort was made to try and force them to disembark. They talked to the media, accusing the Australians of racism. The Australians found themselves caught in an embarrassing situation of their own making that was taking on an international dimension by putting political correctness over the security of its borders.

Being indecisive caused a ripple effect. It gave the Sri Lankan government the opportunity to wash their hands of the matter. The Indonesian government was furious over not being adequately consulted by Australia as to its plans and saw a double standard since the Australians have in the past not hesitated to deport Indonesian fisherman caught fishing in Australia’s waters. An Indonesian official spoke bluntly:

What has made us feel offended is that at the time when the Sri Lankan illegal immigrants entered their waters territory, Australia gave more burden to Indonesia by sending the illegals to Bintan district [of Indonesia] on the pretext of cooperation. Why does Australia not deport those illegals to Sri Lanka as what that country often did in the past against Indonesian fishermen?

By not immediately deporting the Sri Lankans back to their own country and putting the world on notice that its borders are not negotiable, the Australians are on course to making the same mistakes we have, and will soon be flooded with refugees.

Meanwhile, the illegals are still calling the shots on the Ocean Viking, and Sri Lankans back home have interpreted Australia’s indecision over the handling of the incident as an open invitation–300 more Sri Lankans are being held after having been intercepted off Australia’s northern coast last week.

  1. theocritus permalink
    November 21, 2009 7:58 pm

    Some 30 years ago I read a book called The Camp of the Saints. Written by a Frenchman, it’s the story of Indians (Asian ones) who set said for the Riviera, on tramp ships, and take over entirely the Côte d’Azur. The French do not have the guts–and this was before P.C.–to deal with what is nothing less than an assault on their culture. They don’t have it now; some non-Muslim women go out covered for fear. France is not long for this world as France.

    I live in a part of Texas close to the border. In south Texas it’s unsafe to live in the country; you cannot keep your property. You cannot leave a house in the country locked up enough that it won’t be entirely looted.

    But the worst part is that the culture of corruption spreads to local government.

    This is not to say that Mexicans are evil–far from it. Texas wouldn’t be Texas without Mexicans.

    But any influx so large does not give people time to assimilate, to learn American customs and values, and to become American. I embrace the melting pot of America, but if America is to remain America, instead of squabbling victims’ groups, all people living here must assimilate.

    Just as my ancestors did.

  2. sovereignjim permalink
    November 22, 2009 4:44 am

    Interesting problem. Yes assimilation is demanded. However what about illegality and the unfairness to legal immigration candidates? The end game of doing it wrong is France’s future. Is our future a war between high breeding rate Latinos and Muslims?

  3. jochang permalink
    November 22, 2009 6:47 am

    This question has been boiling in Australia for many years. It is easy for the rest of the world to say that Australia should take in these people, but if they do, there will be a bigger flotilla of little boats off Australia’s ample coasts, all ready to be set on fire. Australia’s economy is fragile at best, and taking in more people than the country’s systems can handle would only compound the issue. Australia in past years has been generous in this regard, so will taking in another 78 people hurt? There has to be a limit, surely, and stopping this type of “immigration” has to start somewhere. The current leaders do not have the guts to take the absolute and necessary step to do so.

  4. shane comeback permalink
    November 22, 2009 8:15 am

    It is way past time for people to be afraid of being called racist.

  5. November 22, 2009 9:05 am




  6. theocritus permalink
    November 22, 2009 10:19 am

    To address the problem of fairness to legal immigrants, no it’s not fair. But I can only think that the present government, and the Clinton one, under Al Gore, were interested in pumping up the numbers of Democratic voters at the expense of the cultural survival of America. I know a waitress named Olivia, from Brazil, who was naturalized in Boston. She’d studied and studied for her citizenship test and was told that she had to answer three of ten questions and could take the test in Spanish. Her English is excellent and they speak Portuguese in Brazil. They handed out a voter-regististration card at the end of the ceremony.

    She felt cheated of her sense of occasion. She was, and is, the sort of person whom I welcome with open arms. She’s a very accomplished waitress in a five-star resort in Phoenix. And she has less patience for illegals than anyone else I know.


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