Protection for asylum seekers

Unike Europe, Australia's illegal migrant problem is comparatively small. However there is growing concern that the number of asylum seekers, particularly those coming by boat, is escalating each year. These people, who are mainly from countries such as Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, and Myanmar, are often fleeing persecution. Desperate, they are easy prey for people-smugglers who supply them with unseaworthy boats for the journey to Australia.

The risks they take in trying to reach this country are great. In 2001, 353 women, children, and men lost their lives when their boat sank within Australian waters. An inquest is being held over an explosion on another boat that killed five people and injured 40.

Although such tragic incidents highlight important humanitarian issues, they may prevent some underlying facts concerning illegal immigration from being recognized. In their desperation they are willing to break the law and thereby support the criminal activities of people-smugglers. As a result, they also raise serious security, criminal, and health concerns. Whether they realize it or not, they are also challenging Australia's sovereignty and the government's right to control who enters the country.

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April 26, 2010

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