Politics, Foreign Policy, Current Events and Occasional Outbursts Lacking Couth

The always interesting Bryan Finoki of Subtopia has a new post on the history of floating prisons. This is something I didn't know:

" ... the BBC even reported a proposal last year between the U.S. and Australian governments to conduct swaps of up to 200 asylum seekers each year, as a kind of deterrent for migrants looking to try their luck sneaking into the U.S. The idea would be to set an example, that to try and enter American territory without permission could potentially land you on a remote refugee camp somewhere in the Indian Ocean instead, or, perhaps the new migration holding facilities they are building on Guantanamo Bay. But, analysts have been quick to point out that Australia could face new boat loads of Asian refugees hoping to luckily get swapped to a vantage closer to America’s shores, thus producing the opposite of the intended effect. Instead, what if it generated a kind of informal human smuggler’s lottery?"


Jay@Soob said...

Daniel, an aside, any numbers regarding illegal immigration to Australia?

Jacob Scott Hundley Kauffman said...

How many people seeking asylum would even ever hear about these programs?

Unknown said...

Did some research on the subject last year, so I hope you won't mind if I offer a response to these comments...

Soob: I have graphs from the official Australian sources, they weren't particularly easy to find on the website so I've copied them from the pdf and uploaded them. Numbers by year here and country of origin here Restricted to "unauthorised boat arrivals", there are also ship-jumpers and overstayers but in small numbers and they attract less publicity than the boat people. The maximum number was about 4000 people arriving on Australian shores in 2000, hardly a huge number compared to Australia's population and miniscule compared to what the US and many European countries experience year after year. The offshore processing regime seems to have stopped the flow, along with anti-people-smuggling agreements with Indonesia.

Jacob: Don't underestimate connectivity. Also, consider that most asylum-seekers entering Australia were rich or at least middle-class in their own countries, and had put all their savings into airfares and smuggling fees, often totaling tens of thousands of dollars for each family member. It is unlikely that they would fail to research the asylum laws in their destinations.

G said...

The numbers provided by Phil are pretty good. The department of Immigration and Citizenship has a pretty good run down here.

The stats are split it up into smuggling by air and by sea. The australian institude of criminology also has a number of good topics including papers on why it is hard to gather information on the smuggling rings.

G said...

The link on the Criminology site entitled "General information and responses, by region" also drills down into smuggling by area including Australia, US, etc.

The Whited Sepulchre said...

"Instead, what if it generated a kind of informal human smuggler’s lottery?"

The informal human smuggler's lottery is the system Texas already has in place!

Slightly off-topic, here's Milton Friedman on the subject of totally open borders, from "SeekerBlog". Friedman has been quoted elsewhere as saying that Entitlements were the only thing preventing Open Borders:

Q: Is increasing immigration into the U.S. an economic benefit or detriment?

A: (laughing) "It’s both. The immigration is a benefit in so far as they provide us with a larger labor force, but it’s a detriment in so far as that labor force is mounting charges on the state through welfare and other programs. In a welfare state world, unfortunately, you cannot have totally free immigration."

Q: Since most of the immigrants to the United States are Mexican, what kind of effect is that having on the Mexican economy?

A: "At the moment the Mexican economy is benefiting from the salaries that the Mexican immigrants are sending back home. The Mexican economy is, of course, losing its labor force, but the Mexican economy has not done a good job at creating jobs or job opportunities that these people would be suitable for. The real problem in Mexico is its policy as reflected in the whole economy. There is too much monopoly, too much regulation, too much restriction. All of that needs to be changed to get the Mexican economy growing at a rapid pace."

Jay@Soob said...

Thanks Phil and Munz for the statistics.


I think Friedman's take is most accurate and the Immigration Debate here in the US nearly always entails the overly simplistic adherence to either amnesty or "round 'em up." What both sides ignore are:
1. The "Left:" the social consequences (and I think these outweigh the financial aspect) in terms of "disaffected youth" and gang proliferation.

2. The "Right:" a combination of the economic impact (as Freidman points out) and the reality that if you criminalize something and stand little chance of effectively eradicating it you merely create more crime.

Daniel, Phil, what's the general attitude regarding illegal immigration in both Australia and New Zealand, respectively? Does this Friedman analysis have any bearing there?