A riot at one of Australia’s immigrationdetention facilities has sparked renewed interest into the country’s controversial immigrationpolicies.
Incoming migrants are prevented from entering the country, and are insteadsent to detention centers located in the South Pacific, where they can be held indefinitely.
As a whole, Australia has been marred by accusations of racism and xenophobia towards both legaland undocumented immigrants.
So, Why is Australia So Anti-Immigrant? Well, Australia has a long and dark historyof preventing non-white people from living in the country.
The first European colonizersreferred to the native Australian Aboriginal population as “savages,” and brought violenceand disease, nearly causing their extinction.
After the British took Aboriginal land onthe basis of it being “Terra Nullius” or “nobody’s land,” the native populationwas refused full citizenship until 1967.
Since that time, the Australian government has attemptedto balance the scales by helping Aboriginal citizens with social welfare programs.
Buttoday, research shows that nearly half of white Australians believe Aboriginals haveunfair advantages, with roughly 20% of respondents saying that they would not sit next to anAboriginal on a bus.
In the 1800s, Australia experienced a GoldRush, bringing waves of immigrants, predominantly from Europe, North America, and China.
Butanti-Asian legislation was implemented until around 1901 when the different British coloniescame together to form a unified Australia.
This federation specifically began enactingpolicies that made it easier for white Europeans to emigrate, and harder for those from non-Englishspeaking countries.
The laws were known as “White Australia Policy,” and startedwith the Immigration Restriction Act 1901.
The Act worked by having immigrants writeout fifty words in a language that was chosen by the immigration officer.
In practice, theofficers would choose a language they knew the testee would not likely know, and if theyfailed the test, they would be considered “prohibited.
” Similar policies worked to mostly preventnon-white immigration, and were only dismantled starting in 1949.
It took until 1973 for raceto no longer be considered a factor for immigration status in Australia.
However, today the government’sviews towards immigrants is still needlessly aggressive.
The current practice of detainingundocumented migrants has been criticized by Human Rights Watch for the poor conditionsin offshore detention facilities.
These centers have even been used for the indefinite, mandatorydetention of children, despite legislation designed to stop the practice.
Moreover, the Australian government begana program in 2013 aimed at preventing asylum seekers and undocumented immigrants from enteringthe country, called Operation Sovereign Borders.
Those who are caught attempting to arriveby boat are often turned back by Australian Defense Forces, and others are sent to detentioncenters.
Legal experts have said that this program violates the 1951 Refugee Convention,the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and other similar treaties.
A controversialad for the program states “No way.
You Will Not Make Australia Home,” in reference toundocumented immigrants and people smugglers.
Despite the fact that Australians of Europeanorigin were themselves once immigrants, anti-multiculturalism is still vibrant and widespread.
As we mentioned, Aboriginal folks in Australiawere once viciously persecuted and still face racism to this day.
For an overview of thecountry’s Indigenous people, watch our video.
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