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Sample Thesis Paper on the Future of Border Protection in Australia: Are The Current Boat Policies Sustainable?

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Sample Thesis Paper on the Future of Border Protection in Australia: Are The Current Boat Policies Sustainable?

Introduction

Australia is one of the countries in the world that do not neighbor other countries from whichever side; instead, the country neighbors the sea. As a result, Australia has one of the longest coastlines in the world that is estimated to be 37,000 kilometers (Morrison n.d, p. 6). In relation to this fact, illegal immigrants can only make their ways to Australia either by the water or by the air. This puts Australia at an advantaged position in terms of monitoring illegal immigration practices that may take place in the country from the sea or from the air (Bryden & Caparini 2006, p. 256). In fact, any person-seeking asylum in the country must pass through the Australian immigration authorities before he/she can settle in the country (Higley et al. 2011, p. 89). However, things have not been that easy in the past because the number of asylum seekers making their ways to the country has been increasing on annual basis. For this reason, the government has put in place stringent measures to curb illegal immigration in the country. One measure has been the mandatory detention of the illegal immigrants (Lusher & Haslam 2007, p. 42). Another measure has been excising some islands from the Australian migration zones. In such cases, when the government forces asylum seekers making their ways to the country by boats to settle on the excised islands, the Australian law does not apply to those people. Accordingly, the Australian government is not held liable by the international community in protecting those people.

In other cases, the government has also entered into agreement with regional governments to settle asylum seekers into their refugee camps in the region in exchange of some favors. However, the current boat policy is one of the strictest measures the current government has developed to deal with this issue. The measure forces asylum seekers making their ways to the country by boats back to their countries of origin or simply stops them from entering the country. According to Grewcock (2014, p. 102), the current boat policies may have something to do with the promise the current government made before coming to power last year that it would literally stop the boats.      

Notwithstanding, what the government is currently doing in implementing its current boat policies, the 1951 refugee convention expects the government to protect all asylum seekers in the country and those in the process of seeking asylum in the country (Steiner, Gibney & Loescher 2013, p. 87). Apart from the 1951 refugee convention, the international law on refugees as well as the Australian council of refugee expects it to accord protection to all asylum seekers in the country irrespective of whether they have valid documents or not (OECD 2003, p. 86). However, this does not mean that the Australian government should not safeguard its coastlines, but it means that as the Australian authorities safeguards the coastlines, they should safeguard the interests of asylum seekers as well. For this reason, the future border policies in Australia should be based on the government’s role in protecting refugees as the international laws on refugees and the 1951 refugee convention establish (Lewis 2012, p. 21).   

In the past, there have been accusations that the current boat policies in the country do not meet the standards of the international law on refugees as well as the 1951 refugee convention. Paul Power who is the current CEO of the Australian refugee council claims that these policies deny asylum seekers their basic rights as well as decent treatment as they seek for asylum in the country (Power 2014, p. 1). Janet Phillips argues that the current boat policies hinder asylum seekers from accessing their rights of seeking asylum in the country (2011, p. 2). These accusations indicate that the government denies asylum seekers their basic rights as established by the international law on refugees (Bretherton & Balvin 2012, p. 124). In other words, they indicate the need to develop border policies that meet the standards of the international law on refugees.

The most interesting thing with the boat issue is that while entry by the sea especially by boats is the second and last issue that increases the number of illegal immigrants in Australia, it is the issue that attracts much attention in the country. In fact, from the very beginning, the number of people that make their ways to Australia illegally by boats has been very low in comparison to the number of people that overstay their visas. McMaster puts the figure of illegal boat arrivals in the country at 0.01 percent (2002, p. 67). Phillips (2011, p. 6), on the other hand, argues that despite the fact that the number of asylum seekers making their ways to Australia by boats has been on the rise recently, their number is still below half of onshore asylum seekers in the country. Phillips maintains that majority of asylum seekers in Australia make their ways to the country by air with valid visas, overstay these visas and then apply for asylum later on when their visas expire. According to Phillips (2011, p. 6), majority of the people that make their ways to the country by boats are more likely to qualify for asylum than their counterparts that make their ways to the country by air. In spite of all these facts, asylum seekers making their ways to the country by boats have been the most affected people by the recent border protection measures. Some people have argued that politics of race have something to do with this practice, but because this paper does not focus its attention on that area, it will not comment on that issue (McMaster 2002, p. 128). However, it will evaluate the political debate surrounding border policies in the country without necessarily putting more emphasis on that issue. The paper will cover this issue under the political debate subheading. 

This paper focuses its attention on the future of the Australian border policies. However, the main focus will be on the sustainability of the current boat policies the current Australian government has established to deter asylum seekers from making their ways to the country by boats. With respect to this focus, the paper does not pay much attention to asylum seekers that make their ways to the country by air. Nonetheless, the paper refers to these people whenever necessary. On the other hand, the paper argues that the current boat policies are not sustainable because they do not meet the standards of the international law on refugees and the 1951 refugee convention as well as the expectations of the Australian refugee council. By claiming that the current boat policies are not sustainable, the paper defines the term sustainable as something that can be defended or maintained within some reasonable limits. The limits referred to in this case are those established by the international law on refugees and the UN 1951 refugee convention regarding the way governments should treat asylum seekers in their countries (Neilson 1996, p. 8). Therefore, when the Australian government appears to digress from its obligations in safeguarding the rights of asylum seekers making their ways to the country by boats, then its boat policies cease to be sustainable. They cease to be sustainable because they cannot be defended or maintained in the presence of the rights of asylum seekers established by the international law on refugees and the UN 1951 refugee convention.

As the paper argues that the current border policies are not sustainable, the paper acknowledges the fact that some of these border policies have been in existence in the country for a long period. At the same time, the paper acknowledges the fact that some western countries have been adopting such policies (Lavenex 2006, p. 16). Nevertheless, the paper maintains that these border policies are not sustainable because other than addressing the problem holistically, they address the problem by deterring asylum seekers from seeking asylum in the country. Accordingly, they are not sustainable even though western countries adopt them and they have been in the country for a long period.       

In the effort of arguing that the current boat policies are not sustainable, the paper starts with a background of the people that make their ways to the country by boats. The paper then extends its scope to what different governments have been doing in the past in securing the borders before recommending what the government needs to do to make its border policies sustainable in the future (OECD 2010, p. 197). As the paper elaborates this argument, the emphasis will be on the responsibility of the Australian government in protecting the rights of asylum seekers within its borders.

Background

The issue of asylum seekers that make their ways to the country by boats started in the 1970s when the Vietnamese nationals with the help of an atlas made their way to the country by a boat (Butcher 2013, p. 58). Although not all Vietnamese people that were seeking asylum sailed by boats to Australia, some of them sought refuge in Australia. At this time, the Australian government did not deny these people refuge because the government and the members of the public were sympathetic to the said asylum seekers. However, as the issue of asylum seeking became rampant in the region, the Australian government together with the citizens became curious of the rate at which the practice was taking place in the country. On the one hand, the government was concerned about the rising number of people making their ways to the country by boats. On the other hand, the members of the public were concerned about their welfares in the presence of these people that deemed to enjoy certain rights over them. With respect to these concerns, the government changed some of its border policies to address the challenges that emanated from the rising number of people that were making their ways to the country by boats.

Accordingly, different governments that have been in power since the issue of boat arrivals started in the country have tried to address this issue from a political perspective. This means that each government has played critical roles in the development of the current boat policies. Power (2014, p. 1) claims that of all these governments the current government has been the harshest one because of introducing the current boat policies that are harsh. He claims that Abbott’s government has delivered all that it promised before coming to power in its 2013 policy document. However, this does not mean that other governments have not addressed the issue with strictness. In fact, majority of these governments have contributed to the current boat policies in one way or the other. For example, while the Howard government softened its policies on mandatory detention practice, the government remained committed to sending boats back to their countries of origin (Phillips & Spinks 2013, p. 14). At the same time, the Howard government excised some of its territories from its migration zones such that on intercepting illegal boats, the government could force the people on board to seek refuge in the excised migration zones. By so doing, the Australian law that in one way or the other favors asylum seekers could not apply to such people. The same government signed administrative agreements with Nauru and Papua New Guinea to settle the illegal immigrants that were making their ways to the country by boats on intercepting them (May 2009, p. 307).  

On the other hand, the Gillard government embarked on the offshore processing strategy once it came to power whereas the Rudd government had abandoned that practice. Under this practice, asylum seekers were diverted to offshore regional processing centers other than sending them back to their countries of origin (Hollenbach 2010, p. 103). This notwithstanding, majority of the boat policies practiced in the past were unsustainable like the current boat policies because they did not take into consideration what international laws on refugees and refugee conventions required the government to do.                

Abbott’s boat issue

Before coming to power, the current government outlined in its manifesto that it would literally stop the boats (Grewcock 2014, p. 102). How the government intended to stop the boats no one knew, but the manifesto accused the former government of failing to secure the Australian borders. For this reason, the current government promised the members of the public that if elected, it would secure the borders by ensuring that illegal boat arrivals would not be witnessed in the mainland Australia. As a result, since the government came to power it has implemented its strategy of deterring boats by forcing them back to their countries of origin. By so doing, the government only promotes national interests, but disregards the interests of genuine asylum seekers. This is irrespective of the fact that the current government is aware of what transpired in the past with regard to the former border policies that have been changed from time to time (Abbott 2012, p. 30). Given that some former border policies have been re-evaluated and adjusted whenever necessary, the current government should also change its current boat policies because they are harsh on asylum seekers.      

Thesis statement

The fact that the government does not align most of its border policies with the international law on refugees and the 1951 refugee convention makes most of its border policies unsustainable. Therefore, in the process of making future border policies in the country sustainable, it would be important to understand that asylum seeking practice does not affect Australia alone. Instead, it affects all other countries in the world especially those at war-prone and war-torn areas. At the same time, it is important to note that the issue has been on the rise in the world for the last one decade thereby nations should join hands in dealing with this issue other than distancing themselves from the issue through some deterrence measures.

The most important thing to note is that it is very critical for the countries to continue joining hands in addressing the refugee issue in the world just like they have been doing in the past. Therefore, while this paper acknowledges the challenges facing Australia from the people that make their ways to the country by boats, the paper argues that the current boat policies in Australia are not sustainable because of the following reasons. First, the current boat policies portray Australia as a bad nation that does not respect human rights for asylum seekers. Second, the Australian government has not considered the future consequences and implications of the boat policies in question (Maddison & Denniss 2013, p. 152). Third, other than safeguarding national interests only, the Australian government should safeguard the interests of asylum seekers as well. Accordingly, it should strike a balance between the two. Fourth, the current boat policies do not address the root causes of asylum seeking practices in the region. For these reasons and other reasons, the current boat policies in Australia are unsustainable.               

Expanded thesis statement

From a general viewpoint, the term illegal immigrant should only apply to the people that enter a country or a state without having the mandatory legal requirements for entering the country or state in question. This notwithstanding, section 14 of the 1948 universal declaration of human rights establishes that every person has a right to seek asylum in any country. In addition, the 1951 refugee convention disallows states and countries from imposing penalties on the people that enter such states and countries illegally given that the lives of such people are threatened at their countries of origin (Phillips 2011, p. 2).  

A further emphasis on this matter comes from the UNHCR that insists that people that have well-grounded reasons for leaving their countries of origin certainly become refugees rather than illegal immigrants. From a local viewpoint, the Australian refugee council admits the danger that asylum seekers encounter in the process of acquiring travel documents while they are in the hurry of leaving their troubled countries or states. Accordingly, this council acknowledges the fact that such people might find themselves in Australia without having the required travel documents (Pickering 2005, p. 33).

On the other hand, the Australian law classifies asylum seekers as un-lawful non-citizens rather than criminals; thus, the law does not criminalize the act of seeking asylum in Australia (Phillips 2011, p. 10). Based on this understanding, the Australian government should not treat asylum seekers in the country as illegal immigrants. Instead, it should accord them protection as the international law on refugees establishes. The government may do this by aligning its future border policies with the international law on refugees and the UN 1951 refugee convention. From a sustainable perspective, this would make the future border policies in Australia sustainable (Simeon 2013, p. 43). However, when the government makes its border policies without aligning them with the international codes of practices, the said policies cease to be sustainable.

Certainly, the Australian government should accord asylum seekers protection because majority of these people have genuine reasons for fleeing their countries of origin. In contrast to this fact, politicians create an impression that asylum seekers and refugees simply pick up their passports and other travel documents, cross borders in safety and authorities in the countries of their first asylum simply welcome them. Then from this point, asylum seekers and refugees are referred to the UNHCR, remain in safe havens where their needs are met as they wait to be resettled in Australia or any other country of their choice. Nevertheless, this does not happen at any given time. Instead, majority of asylum seekers and refugees leave their countries of origin in hurry as they escape the life threatening experiences in those countries, and in the process, they do not acquire the necessary travel documents. For this reason, majority of asylum seekers lack the necessary travel documents. At the same time, they do not have time to think about the consequences of making their ways to the country by boats or any other country as politicians want the members of public to believe. Based on this understanding, it would be wrong for the Australian government to treat asylum seekers unfairly by denying them protection in the country. However, it would be right for the government to treat them fairly by establishing sustainable boat policies that would safeguard their security interests.

Current literature on the issue

Majority of the articles tackling the Australian case on asylum seekers indicate that Australia has been doing very little in the resettlement of the asylum seekers in the world. In fact, a sizeable amount of the literature show that being a country surrounded by the sea, Australia is in a way seeking to frustrate asylum seekers from seeking refuge in the country by implementing the current boat policies. This notwithstanding, politicians and top government officials mislead the members of the public by making an impression that Australia is one the countries that resettle asylum seekers in high numbers. However, in comparison to small countries like Lebanon that currently hosts 1.1 million asylum seekers from Syria, it is clear that Australia does very little by resettling just 0.1% of the 11.7 million refugees under the UNHCR’s mandate for the year 2013.

Far from the above argument, other literatures claim that the Australian government ensures that it is impossible for asylum seekers to settle in the country. According to these literatures, the government does this by ensuring that not anybody with an intention of settling in the country using temporary visa does that under all cost. Indeed, if the Australian immigration department suspects that a person wants to seek refuge in the country using temporary visa or the said person is unlikely to go back to his/her country of origin once the temporary visa expires, then its officials do not issue such a person with a visa. Current literature shows that now that Australia has been able to secure its air borders, then the country is moving towards securing its water borders by implementing the current boat policies. The current literatures also suggest that once the Australian government executes its current boat policies, then it will be impossible for the asylum seekers to settles in the country or seek refuge in the country (Lutterbeck 2006, p. 17). On the one hand, this will safeguard the interests of the Australian government. On the other hand, it will deny asylum seekers the opportunity of seeking asylum in the country.          

Australian border policies in relation to international obligations

Inasmuch as Australia reserves the right to protect its borders, it does not reserve absolute rights to do so. In other words, Australia must conduct its immigration control measures within a framework that is guided by its obligation in the international laws (Garbutt 2013, p. 124). This means that future border policies should be in line with international laws on refugees and UN 1951 refugee convention together with any other international law that safeguards the interests of asylum seekers.            

Comparing Australian case with international cases

In comparison to other countries, the number of asylum seekers arriving in Australia by boats every year is very low. For instance, in the USA alone, over 500,000 asylum seekers arrive in the country every year. Italy had over 61,000 asylum seekers in 2011 (Andrijasevic 2010, p. 12). Majority of these people were from Turkey, Greece and North Africa, and they made their ways to Italy by boats (Phillips & Spinks 2013, p. 4).

Other parts of Europe struggle with the same problem; thus, Australia is not the only country struggling with this problem. In fact, for the period between 1999 and 2001, the arrival of asylum seekers in Australia by boats was significantly small in comparison to other countries in the world. For example, when in 2000 only 3,000 asylum seekers arrived in Australia by boats, the number of such people that arrived in Pakistan and Iran was over one million in each case. Majority of these people were of the Afghan origin. This means that majority of asylum seekers look for refuge in their neighboring countries; thus, Australia should not deny asylum to its asylum seekers in the region. Furthermore, a recent case of 2011 suggested that while Australia hosted 4565 asylum seekers that made their ways to the country by boats, Pakistan hosted 1.7 million of such people. Iran also hosted 886,500 such people the same year (Purdy 2010, p. 25). Based on this analysis, one can see that while the number of asylum seekers arriving in different countries around the world by boats has been on the rise, Australia has been among the least affected countries in the world. The same analysis indicates that majority of the countries that host asylum seekers especially those making their ways to the affected countries by boats are developing countries. Indeed, the Australian practice of intercepting and directing asylum seekers making their ways to the country by boats to Papua New Guinea and Nauru regional processing centers is not justified. This act denies asylum seekers the right to seek asylum in Australia (Mediansky 1997, p. 123).

From another perspective, in the entire globe, only twenty nations participate in the UNHCR’s refugees’ resettlement programs. These countries accept to resettle refugees on quota basis annually, and Australia is among these nations. Notably, Australia was third in 2011 among the nations that resettled high number of refugees. In spite of this fact, Australia resettled only 9,200 refugees while Canada resettled 12,900 refugees and USA resettled 51,500 refugees. Though this was a significant move towards resettling the growing number of refugees in the world today, the move never contributed significantly towards resettling refugees because there are many genuine refugees in need of resettlement. In other words, the UNHCR’s resettlement program is not an effective method of dealing with all challenges facing asylum seekers because this program manages to resettle about 1% of refugees every year. While the UNHCR manages to resettle just 1% of its refugees, it is important to remember that the number is still growing annually (Douglas & Wodak 2013, p. 3). For this reason, the Australian current boat policies are not sustainable method of dealing with the rising cases of asylum seekers in the world today given that they do not align with the acceptable international practices of resettling refugees.

In contrast to the above findings, while Australia does not have high numbers of asylum seekers and refugees in comparison to other countries in the world, the issue of asylum seekers making their ways to the country by boats has been of great concern lately. This has been the case because the government appears to have lost control over this issue. Higley et al claims that when government loses control over asylum seekers making their ways to the country by boats, the public’s perception of the way the government handles the issue changes (2011, p. 74). Accordingly, it is important for the Australian government to assure the members of the public that it is handling the matter in the right way and the matter is under its control. Otherwise, the current debate on these people will never end soon so long as the members of the public are not assured that the government is able to handle the matter effectively by controlling it. Higley et al further claims that while the official position of the government is to change the public opinion of the matter, the government’s recent practice of attracting international students and skilled migrants to the country has exacerbated the issue of asylum seeking practice in the country (2011, p. 74). In this response, it would be important to consider the future of the Australian border policies in order to understand what the government needs to do to make these policies sustainable.

This leads us to three aspects of border protection that the Australian government should capitalize on in the future. These aspects include the physical border control, compliance of the practices with the border policies and quality control of the border policies. The following section of the paper looks into these three areas to establish what Australia has been doing in relation to these areas. The analysis will be important in determining what future policies would look like.

Physical border control

From a general viewpoint, the geographical location of Australia protects the country from unauthorized immigration (Geddes 2005, p. 31). This is in relation to the fact that the country neighbors the sea other than neighboring other countries. As a result, any person that intends to settle in the country should present himself/herself to the relevant immigration authorities before that person settles in the country. However, this does not mean that there are no illegal immigrants in the country today, but it means that those illegal immigrants living in the country today at one pointing time presented themselves to the immigration authorities and perhaps later on overstayed their visas. While this is the case, Australia has been effective in securing its borders in the past.

This is in relation to the fact that different border agencies operate within the coastline and within airports. These agencies ensure that every person that is in the process of entering the country has the legal documents to do so. In spite of this fact, it would be important in the future to combine all these agencies and run them under one umbrella. In realization of this fact, the government has recently declared the necessity to change it borders and immigration control portfolios. Therefore, from July 2015, the Border Protection Department will be merged with the Australian Service of Border Protection in order to form a single department that deals with border-related issues (Morrison n.d, p. 6). At that point, the Australian Border Service will be established in the framework of the department as one united operational border agency. On the other hand, the Australian Service of Border Protection will combine the operational border, compliance and investigations, detention along with enforcement functions of two different agencies within one broader department.

Nevertheless, in the past, the Australian immigration department has tightened its border protection measures by working together with cruise ships and airlines in screening passengers before they travel to the country. It has also tightened these measures by screening the risk factors of visa applicants and penalizing airlines and cruise ships that allow passengers with invalid travel documents to travel with them to Australia. In addition, the immigration department has been expanding the network of liaison officers at overseas airports. These tight measures at the sea and air ports means that asylum seekers can only make their way to Australia by the sea (Higley et al. 2011, p. 75).

However, as one evaluate the boat issue in Australia, it is important to note that Australia does not have immediate neighbors from the eastern, western and southern sides. At the same time, while majority of the countries from the north are at convenient sailing distances for small boats, the bigger part of the northern coastline is rugged, sparsely populated and long. Therefore, the number of asylum seekers making their ways to Australia by boats might not be high, as one would expect them to be because this area is also under systematic aerial surveillance throughout (Higley et al. 2011, p. 75).

Currently, the many challenges for asylum seekers that make their ways to the country by boats arise from the Ashmore reef and Christmas Island. These are two refugee processing camps located within the remote Indian Ocean territories. The Australian government opted to excise these two regions from its migration zones so that illegal immigrants that find their ways into these areas do not claim protection using the Australian law. Instead, such people claim protection outside of the mainland Australia; thus, Australia is not obligated under any law to accord these people any protection.

With regard to physical border protection, only few asylum seekers made their ways to Australia in 1970s and 1980s. During this period, only Vietnamese and Indochinese asylum seekers made their ways to Australia using boats. The Vietnamese asylum seekers made their ways to Australia with the help of a school atlas (Higley et al. 2011, p. 76). After this took place, only 2000 refugees of the Chinese origins made their ways to Australia in the said period. However, while the number of asylum seekers remained low in the 1970s and 1980s, the number rose up in the 1990s. Majority of the asylum seekers in this period were Cambodians and Vietnamese nationals that escaped from refugee camps in South-East Asia, but as time went by refugees from other regions also joined these people. The one notable case was in 1999 when eighty-six boats carrying 3721 people made their ways to the Australian seaports within a period of one year (Higley et al. 2011, p. 76).

During this period, the mandatory detention law formalized into law in 1992 was in force. As a result, majority of asylum seekers in the country were detained at various refugee camps in the country as they waited for the determination of their cases. The intention of introducing this law was to deter asylum seekers from making their ways to Australia by boats. Given that the deterrence measure was not effective in reducing the number of boat arrivals in the country, the government that was in office at that time introduced temporary protection visas (Bernstein & Weiner 2001, p. 4). Unlike in the past where asylum seekers that qualified to be refugees were granted permanent residence in the country, the temporary protection visas only protected asylum seekers in question for three years. Therefore, at the end of three years asylum seekers in question were required to seek for protection once again. Some people argued that other than temporary protection visas deterring asylum seekers from seeking asylum in the country, they encouraged women and children to settle in the country (Higley et al. 2011, p. 76).

Nevertheless, the deterrence aspect of the immigration policies almost ended when the government denied 433 asylum seekers of the Tampa affair permission to settle in the country. Instead, those asylum seekers were directed to the Christmas Island and other regional processing centers. This gave rise to the pacific solution. Under this solution, the government prevailed over the aid-dependent nations in the Pacific Ocean; thus, Papua New Guinea and Nauru accepted to detain asylum seekers in question on behalf of Australia (Higley et al. 2011, p. 77).

With respect to this practice, the number of asylum seekers in the country reduced significantly once again in the mainland Australia with less than 300 asylum seekers making their ways to Australia by boats between 2002 and 2007. Though some people attributed these results to the pacific solution, there were other possible explanations to the same. One explanation was the removal of the Taliban government from power in Afghanistan during the period in question (Higley et al. 2011, p. 77). Another explanation related to the enhanced cooperation of the then government with Indonesian government in ending smuggling business while yet another explanation related to the SIEV X tragedy of the 2001. Yet still another explanation related to the interception of boats by the Australian navy and forcing those boats to go back to their countries of origin. Given these explanations, it was unclear whether deterrence measures were effective in reducing the number of asylum seekers in the country or not. However, the combination of these measures reduced the number of asylum seekers making their ways to the country by boats for the period in question.

Compliance with the border policies

In terms of compliance, it would be wrong to argue that asylum seekers finding their ways to the country via Indonesia are illegal immigrants, as the media wants the members of the public to believe. This connotation is far-fetched because asylum seekers doing this usually present themselves to the immigration officials to have their cases heard before they settle in the country. Furthermore, while the issue of asylum seekers that make their ways to Australia by boats attracts much attention than the people that overstay their visas, refugee advocates claim that even during the peak arrival rates for the said people their number does not reach a 10 percent of the people that overstay their visas. Irrespective of this fact, Australia remains with the most compliance systems in the world (Higley et al. 2011, p. 80). This is in relation to the fact that the country is able to register all people that enter or leave the country. The practice gives the immigration authorities good ideas of the people that enter and leave the country at any given time.

It would be important to note that even though Australia claims to have high number of people that overstay their visas, China, Malaysia, Philippines, Britain and USA have the highest numbers of people that overstay their visas every year. In contrast to these countries, the Australian immigration department is able to monitor the number of people that overstay their visas and make the number available to policy makers for them to make informed decisions regarding future issuance of visas. This helps in identifying people that are more likely to overstay their visas; thus, as the immigration department issues visas to these people, it is able to scrutinize them thoroughly. In the event, the immigration department is not satisfied with people coming from high risk countries, the department may deny those people visas or ask them to post bonds that they may forfeit in case they overstay their visas.

On the other hand, the immigration department relies significantly on alert systems both from the members of the public as well as within the department itself. This department also relies on statistical data to establish the people that are most likely to apply for asylum after they lawfully settle in the country. The data used in this case is based either on political conditions at the home country for the applicant or on compliance statistics for people coming from the same country. If the immigration authority is not satisfied that such a person will comply with the Australian immigration rules, then the authority reserves the right to deny such person a visa. On the country, if the authority is satisfied that such a person is not at a risk of overstaying his/her visa, then the authority gives that person the visa. Nevertheless, the profiling of such people does not relate to specific people, but at times, it may refer to specific individuals likely to threaten the national security.  

As a simple demonstration of how the immigration department has been able to enhance immigration compliance in the country, it would be necessary to highlight the 2008/2009 case. In the said case, the number of people overstaying their visas in the country was 11428, but the immigration department was able to track some of these people and remove 6818 of these people from the country (Higley et al. 2011, p. 82). Other cases demonstrate that the immigration department has been effective in reducing the number of people that do not comply with the Australian immigration law.            

Quality control of the current border policies

On the other hand, it would be important to evaluate how the Australian immigration department has been enhancing quality control in the country. This part of the part evaluates whether the immigration department has been able to deliver what is mandated to deliver by the government or not.

As one evaluates this issue, it would be important to note that the immigration department in the country should avoid all unintended consequences in the immigration portfolio. This is irrespective of the challenges that may be there in the department because of problematic policy decisions as it has been the case in the recent past (Higley et al. 2011, p. 84).

To some extent, it may be said that the immigration department failed in issuing the three types of visas introduced in 1996. The said visas were working holidaymaker visas, international student visas and temporary skilled visas. Each of these visas produced unintended consequences once introduced because the number of illegal immigrants in the country rose significantly. For example, the international student visa contributed in increasing the number of illegal students in the country (Higley et al. 2011, p. 84). In spite of these occurrences, the government has been careful in making decisions related to immigration. At the same time, the immigration department has been able to deal with all unintended consequences in almost all cases except in some few cases.

Contentious issues with border policies

            In spite of the fact that some border policies have been effective in deterring asylum seekers from seeking asylum in the country, some of these policies have been contentious because of what they do or lead to. Accordingly, it would be important to change some of these policies in the future to make them sustainable. The following is an overview of the contentious policies the government has made in the past with an intention of demonstrating why some policies may be unsustainable in the future.

            The first contentious policy has been the mandatory detention law. With regard to this policy, some people argue that the measure violates the rights of asylum seekers. Those arguing this way claim that the detention period should not exceed six months. As these people argue this way, other people argue that reducing the detention period would encourage more asylum seekers to seek asylum in the country. In relation to this policy, there has been concern regarding the detention of children and vulnerable people. The concern relates to the manner in which the immigration department detains these people (Phillips & Spinks 2013, p. 20). While this concern continues, the condition of detention has also been another contentious issue relating to this policy. The concern relates to the remoteness of the locations for the detention camps. In spite of the fact that mandatory detention was intended to help in reducing the number of illegal immigration in the country, the issue has been a contentious one. Therefore, some governments have reviewed the issue before implementing it while other governments just implement it without reviewing it.

The second contentious issue relating to the border policies relates to the adoption of offshore processing centers. With regard to this issue, human right activist groups have criticized the way government treats asylum seeker in these camps. Opposition parties in the country have also criticized the government on this issue as well. Other policies have been contentious as well and while this happens, the government has in some instances been unable to defend its position on some of these policies. For example, the government was unable to defend itself on the Malaysian issue (Grewcock 2014, p. 103). With regard to this paper’s argument, the contentious issues surrounding the current boat policies imply that some of the current policies may be unsustainable in the future. These policies may be unsustainable because the government cannot justify why it adopts them beyond serving the national interests. In other words, while some of these policies serve the national interests and the interests of the incumbent governments, they do not serve the interests of asylum seekers; thus, the government cannot justify them. For this reason, the government may not be able to defend or maintain such policies in some instances.      

The public opinion on boat arrivals

Based on the opinion poll data, the arrival of unlawful boats in Australia has been an issue of concern to the members of the public as it has been to the government. Majority of the people express their dissatisfaction with the issue such that opposition to this matter has steadily risen for the last four decades. This is irrespective of the fact Australian citizens received the first wave of these people with sympathy (McMahon, Thomson & Wilson 1996, p. 206). In spite of such a sympathetic acceptance for the people in the first wave, subsequent arrivals became contentious ones. Phillips claims that the way the media portrayed this issue as well as the concern regarding the favoritism they received at workplaces changed the public opinion towards asylum seekers making their ways to the country by boats. In fact, the worker’s federation called for a nationwide strike in 1977 to protest the favoritism treatment for the refugees (Phillips & Spinks 2013, p. 5). The main concern in the strike over the said people was whether they were genuine refugees or simply other groups of people that had concealed interests in Australia.

Following the publicity of the matter to the members of the public, the second wave of asylum seekers that made their ways to Australia by boats between 1989 and 1998 became even contentious because of the detention measures the then government had introduced. Human right activists groups opposed the matter. However, as the government reduced the number of years for jailing such people, the matter disappeared from the members of the public until the third wave emerged in 1999.  

An analysis of this matter in 2001 by Katharine Betts revealed the following. First, it revealed that by the end of 1970s about 60% of the Australian people supported the idea of letting a limited number of the asylum seekers arriving by boat to stay in Australia. A further 7-13% of the members of the public supported the idea of letting any number of asylum seekers of this nature to stay in the country (Hollifield, Martin & Orrenius 2014, p. 142). On the other hand, between 20% and 32% of the members of the public supported the idea of disallowing any number of these people to stay in the country.

Second, the study revealed that by 1993 things had changed significantly because 44% of the members of the public supported the idea of sending back those people to their countries of origin without assessing their claims. On the other hand, 46% of the people supported the idea of detaining these people while the government was assessing their claims. A further 7% of the people supported the idea of allowing asylum seekers that make their ways into the country by boats to stay in Australia.

Third, the study revealed that by 2001, 77% of the members of the public supported the idea of the government of disallowing the MV Tampa ship to dock in the Australian waters on allegation that it was carrying asylum seekers (McKenzie & Hasmath 2013, p. 418). In addition, 71% of the people supported the idea of detaining asylum seekers as the government considered their cases. During the 2001 study, it was revealed that the members of the public in support of open borders to asylum seekers based their decisions on humanitarian reasons. These people claimed that the Australian government was ruining the Australian reputation overseas by mistreating asylum seekers.

Though over the years Australian citizens had differing opinions towards asylum seekers especially those made their ways to the country by boats, it was clear that they shifted their opinions once they learned that the Howard government was mistreating detainees as well as there were wrongful detentions. Once again, the period between 2003 and 2007 experienced a decline in the number of boat arrivals; thus, the public debate on asylum seekers received less attention for this period. However, the debate re-emerged once again when an increase on the number of boat arrivals took place in 2008. In relation to the re-emergence of the issue of asylum seekers making their ways into the country by boats during this period, a 2009 Newpoll survey established that 37% of Australian people believed that the then government was doing enough to address the issue of boat arrivals. The survey also established that 36% of the people believed that tougher measures on asylum seekers would not do anything to stop unlawful boat influxes in the country (Hollifield, Martin & Orrenius 2014, p. 142).

The influence of incumbent governments

The political debate on asylum seekers that make their ways into the country by boats in Australia has been a twofold debate. On one hand, some politicians support the idea that seeks to ensure that asylum seekers making their ways to the country by boats meet the conventional definition of refugees for them to be allowed to settle in the country (Rumley, Louis & Griffin 2006, p. 49). These politicians also support the idea of returning asylum seekers that do not meet the conventional definition of the term refugee to their countries of origin. On the other hand, other politicians support the idea of stopping further flows of asylum seekers into the country by whatever means (Watson 2009, p. 82). However, the challenges remain with how to execute this measure without hurting genuine asylum seekers. In this regard, every government that comes to power executes its policies based on what it knows best. Accordingly, some policies have this far been unfavorable to asylum seekers because of the political stand of the incumbent governments.

The first of such practices took place in 1977 and 1978 when the then government engaged in regional approaches with other governments in the region. The practice saw vessels in transit held by the government that intercepted them for the asylum seekers in those vessels to be resettled in respective refugee processing camps. The government also increased the number of Chinese refugees resettled in the country from refugee camps in South-East Asia. By so doing, the number of asylum seekers that made their ways to Australia during this period reduced significantly. In line with these measures, the Fraser government, on the other hand, introduced an effective method for identifying genuine asylum seekers from the fake ones in 1982. Once again, this measure proved to be effective in reducing the number of asylum seekers in the region (Bernstein & Weiner 2001, p. 5).

The Hawke government that came to power after the Fraser government launched a durable solution that was recommended to it by the UNHCR. This method entailed repatriating Indochinese asylum seekers voluntarily into their countries of origin. It also entailed social integration of the asylum seekers in question into the countries of their first asylum and as a last resort, resettling those people into third countries (Paoletti 2011, p. 15). Following the success of this strategy in Australia and elsewhere, the Australian government together with other seventy-seven governments endorsed a comprehensive plan for resettling Indochinese refugees in the region. The adoption of this strategy by these governments aimed at reducing the number of Indochinese refugees seeking asylum in the region. On becoming the member of the comprehensive plan, the member countries in South-East Asia were required to grant transitory asylum to all asylum seekers in those countries as well as screen carefully all new arrivals using the internationally recognized criteria. Upon screening new arrivals, respective governments were mandated with the responsibility of returning asylum seekers that did not qualify to be refugees to their countries of origin (Phillips & Spinks 2013, p. 10). On the other hand, asylum seekers that arrived in the refugee camps before the cut-off dates were transferred to third countries for resettlement.     

However, in the 1990s through mid 2000s, the policies focused mainly on deterring asylum seekers from making their ways to Australia because their number was rising very fast at this time. In relation to this fact, the political forces forced the government to introduce the mandatory detention laws, excluded some of its external territories from its migration zones and adopted a strategy of processing refugees at offshore processing centers. These measures were reinforced by the traditional coastal surveillance measure and amplified engagement with transit countries (Phillips & Spinks 2013, p. 10).

This notwithstanding, when the Rudd government came to power in 2007, it abolished some policies that had been put in place by the Howard government. On the contrary, the Rudd government focused its attention on securing the borders by dealing with people smugglers in the region. Accordingly, the government allocated huge sums of money in its budgetary allocations for year 2009/2010. Nevertheless, while the government abolished some of these measures, it retained some measures that were politically considered viable. For example, while the government abolished the pacific strategy, it retained the measure that excised Christmas Island from its migration zones.

On the other hand, as the federal elections drew near in 2010, the Gillard government focused its attention on deterrence measures; thus, proposed to initiate a regional processing center in East Timor. However, the government abandoned this strategy in favor of the Malaysian strategy that never prospered. With the Malaysian strategy, the government aimed at transferring 800 asylum seekers to Malaysia, and in return was to resettle 4000 Malaysian refugees in Australia for a period of four years (Philips & Spinks 2013, p. 11).

Having failed to deal with the rising number of asylum seekers making their ways into the country by boats, the Gillard government created an expert panel in 2012. This expert panel was mandated with making recommendations to the government on how it would manage and deal with the rising number of asylum seekers in the country at the time (Holtom n.d, p. 51). Within a short period, the expert panel presented twenty-two recommendations to the government. These recommendations focused their attention on the Australian humanitarian programs, disincentives for illegal immigration and regional engagement strategies. However, the government did not implement all these recommendations. Instead, the government acted upon its preferred recommendations and discarded the rest. For example, the government acted swiftly in re-opening the offshore processing centers. In addition, the government paid attention to removing asylum seekers that it did not owe protection and those that had not made protection claims. This strategy saw the government sign a memorandum of understanding with the Afghan government for resettling the Afghan people that were in Australia back to Afghanistan. By signing this memorandum of understanding, the government argued that the measure would dissuade Afghans from risking their lives to come to Australia by boats. Other than this strategy dealing with asylum seekers, the strategy turned its attention to two Afghan people that had made their ways into the country by air. In other words, by the end of one year, only two Afghan people were involuntarily returned to Afghanistan and the two people had made their ways into Australia by air (Phillips & Spinks 2013, p. 12). Apart from this, the government has also focused its attention on the Sri Lankan people. Accordingly, the government has removed large numbers of Sri Lankan asylum seekers from the country in the recent past both willingly and unwillingly. This strategy has been successful to some extents, but some critics argue that the government does not give these people chances to raise their protection claims.                     

In spite of the political standpoint one chooses to support, the issue of asylum seekers in the country has been politicized since the first asylum seekers made their ways into the country by boats. However, the issue has received critical attention for the last two decades than it received before this period. Consequently, subsequent governments have been enacting stern measures on boat arrivals. Some of these measures have been mandatory detention, pacific strategy and the current boat policy of resending boats to their countries of origin.

The following part of the paper seeks to justify why the Australian government should stop implementing its current boat policies and instead offer protection to asylum seekers. The basis of this justification is based on the fact that majority of asylum seekers making their ways to the country by boats are genuine asylum seekers rather than illegal immigrants. For this reason, future border policies should take care of asylum seekers as opposed to denying them protection in the country. By so doing, the future border policies would be justifiable; thus, be sustainable.      

Justifying the issue of asylum seekers from a protection viewpoint

The political standpoint has been that the best method of settling refugees in Australia rests on making proper use of the right procedure that requires such people to apply for humanitarian visas through offshore refugee centers. However, looking at the current government statistics the data shows that this is the worst method of settling refugees in Australia. For example, in the last five years the average number of people that applied to become Australian citizens from offshore refugee center was 48,668 every year (Power 2014, p. 2). Even though this number accounted for roughly 0.3% of the refugees currently living in less developed countries, the Australian government rejected 80% of those applications. The lucky few people that the Australian government resettled were referred to it for settlement by the UNHCR. This means unless the UNHCR recommends asylum seekers for resettlement in Australia, it is quite difficult for them to become Australian citizens. With respect to the above analysis, it is evident that relatively few people in desperate need of settlement apply to become Australian citizens. It is also evident that only few people that apply for the same finally succeed to settle in Australia.

From another perspective, it is quite evident that majority of asylum seekers that arrive in Australia by boats are usually in dire need of security because their lives are usually in danger in their countries of origin. In other words, majority of the people that risk sailing long distances by boats to settle in Australia usually do so in fear of risking their lives in their countries of origin (Nguyen 2004, p. 10). With respect to this understanding, some of them may meet the United Nation’s requirements for seeking asylum. Based on this understanding, the Australian government should consider asylum seekers that make their ways to the country by boats as genuine asylum seekers that require urgent protection. This means that before sending their boats back to where they came from the government should listen to these people (Howie 2014, p. 10). By so doing, the government would be able to identify genuine asylum seekers that should be accorded protection; thus, enhance the sustainability of its border policies.

On the other hand, there is no issue of queue jumping among the people that make their ways to Australia by boats as politicians want the members of the public to believe. This claim means that there is no resettlement queue among refugees and asylum seekers because refugee resettlement programs do not operate on first come first served basis (Crock, Saul & Dastyari 2006, p. 50). Furthermore, given that only 1% of refugees are at the possibility of being resettled every year through the UNHCR’s resettlement program, the aspect of queue jumping does not substantiate the issue of imposing the current boat policies in Australia. Just imagine what would happen if the 16.7 million refugees in last year’s list of refugees were to be on a queue as they wait to be resettled by the twenty developed countries that resettle these people every year. If this hypothesis was to hold, majority of the refugees in resettlement program would die long before their resettlement takes place. This is in relation to the fact that only 98,426 of these people were resettled by these countries last year (Power 2014, p. 2). Therefore, if you were to add the increasing number of refugees ever year, you would establish that the queue issue is only a hypothetical argument that does not apply in the resettlement program. Yet again, historical facts demonstrate that resettlement programs cannot be realistic methods of resettling asylum seekers. For example, the 1930s Jewish case in Germany demonstrates that it is impossible to rely on resettlement programs because majority of the countries involved in the program apply strict quotas (Power 2014, p. 5). For this reason, it would be easier to change the deterrence measures in Australia than to reform the resettlement program because such practice would not have dire consequences on Australia. In other words, changing the deterrence measures in Australia would enable the country to resettle majority of the people that pose resettlement challenges in the region. By so doing, the country would address the rising number of asylum seekers in the region that make their ways to the country by boats. This exercise would enhance the sustainability of the border policies in Australia.     

At this point, it would also be important to note that majority of asylum seekers that make their ways to Australia by boats are usually genuine people in search of protection rather than economic immigrants. This is in relation to the fact that for the asylum seekers that have made their ways to Australia by boat since 1976 to date, the genuine cases have been overwhelming. In other words, roughly 29,000 of these people out of 36,500 of them have either acquired temporary or permanent protection in Australia for the period in question. Yet again, it is worth noting that majority of asylum seekers tend to take the matter in their hands because they do not have sustainable security in their countries of first refuge. Accordingly, some of them have been making their ways to Australia in hope of sustainable protection (Power 2014, p. 2). On a closer examination, it is clear that very few asylum seekers tend to make their journeys to Australia because majority of them understand the current situations of their counterparts in the country, but they risk coming to Australia by boats anyway. For this reason, imposing strict boat policies will not deter asylum seekers from making their ways into the country by boats; thus, the best way of dealing with these people would be to establish sustainable measures.

The following historical data demonstrate that majority of the people that make their ways to Australia by boats are usually genuine asylum seekers rather than anything else. This is in relation to the fact that when the Australian government subjects these people to the assessment criteria  that applies to refugees, the government establishes that majority of these people qualify for protection. The first historical data that supports this claim relates to the 1998 and 1999 data for the Afghan and Iraq people. These people arrived by boat and on assessment, the Australian government granted 97% of Iraqi people and 92% of Afghan people protection in the country (De Haas 2006, p. 56). In addition, the government finally provided these people with permanent protection visas. The second historical data in support of this claim relates to the 1637 asylum seekers detained in Manus and Nauru refugee facilities for the period between 2001 and 2008. With regard to these people, the government established that 1153 of these people were genuine asylum seekers; thus, settled them either in Australia or elsewhere.

 The third historical data in support of the above claim relates to Christmas Island. With regard to this case, between 90 and 95 percent of the cases that were assessed during the Rudd government at the island proved to be genuine cases. In fact, for the 1254 cases assessed between July 2009 and January 2010, 1144 of these cases were genuine and only 110 cases were not genuine (Phillips 2011, p. 11). The fourth historical data that supports this claim relates to the refugee status assessment (RSA) procedure introduced in 2008. In this case, the government received 2914 cases and out of these cases, 2126 of them were genuine cases. Based on these historical data, the Australian government should not dismiss asylum seekers that make their ways to the country by boats by referring to them as illegal immigrants that should not receive any protection from the Australian government. Instead, the government should treat these people fairly by abolishing the current unsustainable boat policies simply because they do not align with the internal law on refugees and the UN 1951 refugee convention (Tait 2013, p. 162). From a different perspective, the above argument justifies why the government should stop mistreating asylum seekers making their ways into the country by boats through its unsustainable boat policies.  

The government’s past measures on asylum seekers

The following part of the paper analyzes the past methods that the government has been implementing in resolving the boat arrival issue. Some of these measures include the mandatory detention, the pacific strategy and the issuance of transitory protection visas. The intention is to highlight the specific areas the government needs to look into in developing its future border policies.    

Mandatory detention

The Keating government was the first government to introduce the mandatory detention rule for all unauthorized boats that land in Australia under the migration amendment act 1992. Prior to this period, other governments applied a discretionary measure whenever they held unauthorized boats that arrived in Australia. The Keating government argued that mandatory detention aimed at reducing the cost of locating asylum seekers living in Australia when the government was in the process of assessing their claims as well as deterring unnecessary immigration into the country (Kelly 2011, p. 191). By then, this argument seemed plausible, but with time, things have changed with the introduction of strict boat policies. Under the current boat policies, the government sends asylum seekers back to their countries of origin or any other country that may welcome them.

Though the enactment of the mandatory detention rule for asylum seekers took place in 1992, the rule started operating in 1994. The intention of extending the time for the rule to start working was to determine the refugee status in Australia and in the world as well as ensure that the ministry of immigration prepared for the exercise. The current mandatory detention rule gives immigration officers the rights to detain anyone they suspect is an asylum seeker living in the country. Unlike in the past when mandatory detainees comprised of unauthorized boat arrivals, the current detainees include the people that have overstayed their visas, people whose visas have been cancelled or unauthorized air arrivals. In spite of this fact, mandatory detentions were criticized by human right activists, and out of such criticisms, the government abandoned them for a moment. However, once the Howard government came to power, the mandatory detention measure was reintroduced once again (Phillips & Spinks 2013, p. 13). This measure included children in the list of the people that were to be detained. Senator Vanstone who was the then immigration minister argued that releasing children would encourage people smugglers’ to settle children in Australia. Nevertheless, this harsh rule did not stay for a long period because a year later the Prime Minister Howard reversed it. Though this did not terminate the mandatory detention rule, it sustained it along with other measures that demonstrated the government’s commitment to ending unauthorized arrivals (Taylor 2005, p. 30). At the same time, the government remained committed to even sending boats back to their countries of origin that tried to settle in Australia unlawfully.

Once the Rudd government came into power in 2007, the mandatory detention issue took another direction when the government announced an overhaul of the same. The new policy established that asylum seekers would be detained on a last resort basis rather than on standard practice. Accordingly, unauthorized arrivals were detained during this period on arrival for security, health and identity checks. However, after checking them the government had to justify any unwarranted detention for asylum seekers. In other words, the government could only detain asylum seekers that were threat to security or those did not comply with visa requirements. This meant that people that arrived in Australia on unauthorized basis enjoyed their freedom in Australia while the government was resolving their immigration issues. More so, children that arrived in Australia under unauthorized basis together with their families were not detained in detention centers. Instead, they enjoyed their freedom in Australia once again as the government resolved their immigration issues (Cassarino & Sandra 2012, p. 24). Despite this practice, the mandatory detention practice continued in the Rudd’s government as well as in Gillard’s government. In relation to this fact, the ever-increasing number of unauthorized boat arrivals has been placing significant pressure on the immigration detention facilities in the country. Initially, the Australian government resolved this issue by shifting detainees from the Christmas Island to the mainland detention facilities, expanding existing detention centers and opening new ones (Phillips & Spinks 2013, p. 14). However, as the number of detainees has been on the rise year in year out, the government has responded by enacting other measures. For examples, the Gillard government established the issuance of bridging visas to all unauthorized boat arrivals in 2011, and by October 2012, the government had issued 6100 bridging visas to such people. Nevertheless, while the new detention policies maintained that there would be no detention of the children, about 758 children were still in detention centers as at October 2012. Other children totaling to 762 were being detained in alternative places of detention.

The pacific strategy

In order to address the asylum seekers’ challenges effectively, the Howard government had enacted some legislative measures in 2001 that excised certain Australian territories from the migration zones. This measure sought to discourage unlawful immigration into Australia by boat (Sawer, Abjorensen & Larkin 2009, p. 27). As a result, those people that were attempting to settle in Australia by boats were intercepted in the sea and where possible they were sent to Indonesia or Christmas Island. By so doing, the Australian government was able to address challenges arising from asylum seekers outside the Australian territories (Kapferer 2013, p. 41). This reduced the number of unauthorized people from settling in Australia. Colloquially, the measure became the pacific solution.

The pacific solution arose from a rescue team of asylum seekers that were on their way to Australia in 2001 by the Norwegian ship known as MV Tampa. On rescuing these people from their sinking vessel, the Australian authorities denied the Norwegian ship entry into the Australian waters, but the ship defied the orders and entered into the Australian waters by force. The Australian authorities responded by detaining the asylum seekers in the vessel and sending them to the Nauru island (Aslan 2009, p. 111). Following this incidence, the Australian parliament enacted an amendment to the immigration law and established the pacific strategy that later became the pacific solution.

The pacific strategy removed Cocos, Cartier, and Christmas islands as well as Ashmore Island from the Australian migration zones (Phillips & Spinks 2013, p. 16). Consequently, any person that was attempting to settle in Australia unlawfully through these islands did not qualify for a protection visa in Australia unless the immigration department determined otherwise. The Australian government went ahead to ratify an administrative agreement with Nauru (Selm & Cooper 2006, p. 14). In the agreement, Nauru accepted to accommodate the asylum seekers for the period they were waiting for their applications to be processed in Australia. The Australian government also signed such an agreement with Papua New Guinea (Power 2014, p. 2). Under this solution, the arrival of the asylum seekers to the mainland Australia saw the Australian government settle these people to Manus and Nauru islands. With respect to these agreements, the Australian law did not apply because these asylum seekers were not in the Australian territories. However, the Australian immigration officials took part in the exercise of determining the future of the affected asylum seekers together with UNHCR’s officials (Kneebone 2009, p. 172). Those people that Australia owed protection either settled them in Australia or in third countries. However, it is worth noting that the emphasis on this exercise was on settling these people to third countries rather than settling them in Australia.

In reaction to this strategy, different human rights around the world criticized Australia for acting against the international laws on refugees as well as damaging the psychological well-being of asylum seekers. The human rights activist groups accused this exercise of being expensive to implement and being against the international laws on refugees (Phillips & Spinks 2013, p. 17). As a result, the pacific strategy ended formally in 2008 with the twenty-one asylum seekers at Nauru detention center being settled in Australia. Following this decision, the Rudd government cancelled its agreement with Nauru and New Guinea; thus, embarked on processing its immigration documents while the asylum seekers remained at the Christmas Island (Hughes & Keski-Nummi 2014, p. 11).

The pacific strategy was effective in dealing with genuine cases because for the period it lasted, a total of 1637 people were detained in the detention facilities. Out of these people, only 1153 cases were genuine, and out of the genuine cases, 705 people settled in Australia while the rest were settled in other countries. Historical facts showed that the abandonment of the pacific strategy was only temporal because once the Gillard government came to power; it expressed its interest to embark on that strategy in 2012 (Phillips & Spinks 2013, p. 17). This shows that the pacific strategy remains among the prevalent methods of dealing with asylum seekers in Australia. However, under the new pacific strategy, the immigration department has to determine the practicality of transferring asylum seekers to the regional processing centers.

Under this strategy, the host governments for the asylum seekers try these people and the genuine refugees stand chances to be resettled in Australia. Nevertheless, the Australian immigration ministry insists that such people are subject to no advantage principle. This principle maintains that such people do not reserve the right to be resettled in Australia sooner than they would be resettled had they not found themselves in Australia by boats. By this principle, the government appears to be unclear on its practices of settling refugees in the country. Accordingly, human rights activists once again contend this issue on the basis that genuine refugees might suffer at regional processing centers as they wait for the Australian government to settle them (Phillips & Spinks 2013, p. 17). If the no advantage principle continues to be in operation under this strategy, then asylum seekers will continue to suffer at regional processing centers as they did during the Howard government.

Transitory protection visas

The Howard government was the first government to introduce and implement the temporary protection visas in 1999. These visas sought to provide asylum seekers settling illegally in Australia with temporary protection as the Australian government assessed whether they qualified to become refugees or not. However, these visas were valid for three years meaning that they protected these people from eviction and detention for a short period after which the government reassessed the positions of these people being in the country (Asakawa 2013, p. 3). During the mentioned period, the unauthorized settlers were eligible for welfare and medical services, but they did not have the right to reunite with their families or travel outside the country. Accordingly, if these people travelled outside the country, their visas were cancelled. Once the Rudd government came into power, it abolished these visas by amending the immigration law in 2008. At the same time, it granted permanent protection to about 1,000 asylum seekers that had these visas.

Majority of the Australian citizens including the opposition party attribute the rising number of unlawful boat influxes to the abolition of the transitory protection visas and the termination of pacific solution. These people claim that the two methods were effective in deterring unlawful boat influxes. However, other people argue that Australia recorded the highest number of unlawful boat influxes immediately the Howard government introduced the transitory visas. These people base their arguments on the 3721, 2939 and 5516 people that found their way to Australia for the years 1999, 2000 and 2001 respectively (Power 2014, p. 5). They argue that the non-reunification rights that asylum seekers enjoyed under these visas enticed women and children to take the risky journeys by boat to Australia. The rationale is that women and children could travel on their own without relying on men. Therefore, as women and children travelled by boat on their own without the help of men, the number of unauthorized people in the country went up. Nevertheless, the labor government attributed the rising number of boat arrivals to the increasing number of refugees in the world other than the abolition of the transitory protection visas.

Comment on deterrence measures

            While it is quite evident that previous governments have in a way tried to address illegal immigration issue in the country by putting deterrence measures in place, it is also evident that these measures have in a way failed to be justifiable. First, it is quite evident that the mandatory detention policy has been unjustifiable in some cases. For example, the government has in the past been unable to justify why it imprisons children. Accordingly, some governments that have been in power have abolished this practice while other governments have re-introduced the practice (Johnson 2014, p. 75).

            Second, it is quite evident that the government has not been able to maintain the issuance of temporary protection visas in the country in some instances because such visas have produced unintended consequences. For example, temporary visas have in the past increased the number of illegal immigrants in the country as well as failed to deal with the issue of illegal immigration exhaustively (Power 2014, p. 7). In fact, while on one hand this practice helps in addressing some challenges facing asylum seekers in the country, on the other hand, the practice does not provide durable solutions to these people. Accordingly, while it would be important for the government to continue with this policy in the future, the policy might not produce the intended consequences. This means that it might not be possible to sustain such a border policy.  

Third, the offshore processing centers have as well been ineffective in the past because in one way or the other the government has not been accountable to asylum seekers in those centers. This is in relation to the fact that the government does not treat those asylum seekers as the international law on refugees and human right groups require the government to do to them. In this respect, almost all deterrence measures have failed in one way or the other because of producing unintended consequences.             

In general, Grewcock claims that successive Australian governments have normalized obnoxious practices in deterring asylum seekers from making their ways to Australia other than coming up with measures that can deal with the issues exhaustively. Accordingly, political parties in the country have year in year out engaged in bidding wars over the best-suited party to address this problem (Grewcock 2014, p. 103). In relation to this fact, Grewcock claims that the current border policies do not address the current refugee problems in the country. Instead, they threaten asylum seekers from trying to make their ways to the country. For this reason, the government needs to develop border policies that can withstand political changes in the country.         

Sustaining border policies by dealing with people smuggling practices

The issue of people smuggling jeopardizes the efforts of eradicating the challenges of asylum seekers in Australia. In responding to this issue, Prime Minister Rudd once said that people smugglers should be left to rot in jails for their practices are evil (Purdy 2010, p. 24). This response shows the desperation of the Australian government in eradicating the problems arising from people smugglers in the region. However, this far the government has not been able to address this issue in an exhaustive manner that would enhance the sustainability of its border policies. This part of the essay delves into some reasons that hamper the elimination of people smuggling exercise in the region and what the government needs to do to make its border policies sustainable in the future.

To start with, it would be important to note that people smugglers engage in this business because they want to improve their economic conditions. However, this should not justify their illegal businesses, but it should pinpoint what incumbent governments need to do to eliminate the vice in the region. Based on this understanding, it would be important for the Australian government to acknowledge the fact that the poor economic conditions for the Indonesian fishermen contribute significantly in people smuggling business that takes place in the region (Singh 2002, p. 105). Upon understanding this, then the government might consider what to do to improve the economic conditions in Indonesia even though the government has nothing to do with the Indonesian economy. The Australian government should do this because the fact remains that when the government acknowledges what is happening in Indonesia, then it would be in a position to offer some feasible solutions that would reduce the number of people smugglers in the region. This is relation to the evidences portrayed by the uneducated Indonesian fishermen that engage in people smuggling for survival purposes (Purdy 2010, p. 31).

Based on the above understanding, the Australian government should join hands with the Indonesian government in creating job opportunities for these people as well as protecting the fishing industry in Indonesia. Such practices would reduce the number of people smugglers and the practice itself in Indonesia (Davis 1973, p. 20). This argument in a way implies that future border policies should take care of what is happening in the region to enhance their sustainability.           

Analyzing the sustainability of the current boat policies

The current government might be claiming victory over the illegal immigrant issue because its current boat policies have been able to force illegal boats back to their countries of origin or any other country in the region. However, as the government implements these policies, it should be important for it to consider the sustainability of these policies. This is irrespective of the fact these policies might be achieving the immediate political goals such as securing the country from illegal immigrants. For this reason, the government should consider the following issues.  

First, while evaluating the sustainability of the current boat policies, it would be important for the government to consider what might befall the nation if Nauru and Papua New Guinea (PNG) cease to cooperate in handling the matter the way the government has proposed. Currently, the government offers support to Nauru, PNG and other stakeholders in the offshore refugee exercises. However, it would be important to consider what might happen when these nations feel that they cannot take more asylum seekers from Australia (Power 2014, p. 6). It would be important to consider this issue because the nations in question might not accept asylum seekers from Australia indefinitely. In other words, these nations might feel that the Australian government forces asylum seekers to them; thus, react against the current boat policies. In order to enhance the sustainability of the current boat policies, it would be important for the government to consider this issue. However, since the government may have not considered this issue as it implements its current boat policies, then the current boat policies may fail to be sustainable in the future because they do not consider the end results of their courses of action. With respect to this understanding, the government should consider the possible consequences of its future border policies. This would enhance their sustainability.    

Second, it is important to consider what would happen if Nauru, PNG and other stakeholders in the resettlement process resettle the asylum seekers in the regional processing centers. From a general viewpoint, the aspect would appear a noble one if these nations decide to resettle the affected asylum seekers. It would also appear to have no significant consequences on the Australian image and integrity. However, it would be important to consider the perception of the people in the affected countries and those from the general public. By considering the perceptions of these people, one would see that the exercise would ruin the image of Australia because these people would see a wealthy nation that does not care about the welfare of people living in abject poverty in developing countries (Power 2014, p. 6). Nevertheless, some people might welcome such move because it would be favorable to Australia. In spite of this fact, it would be important for the government to evaluate the sustainability of its border policies in the future. Doing so would not ruin the country’s image even when the countries in question settle such asylum seekers on behalf on Australia.

Third, it would be important to consider what would happen if Indonesia and Sri Lanka would adopt boat policies that are similar to the Australian one. As one considers what would happen, it would be important to note that asylum seekers in question do not come from Indonesia or Sri Lanka. Instead, majority of these people simply seek refuge in these countries and in the process, they sail to Australia to seek for asylum because of the harsh conditions at refugee camps in these countries. For this reason, Indonesia and Sri Lanka do not have anything to do with these people (Power 2014, p. 6). When one evaluates all these aspects, one concludes that the current boat policies may not be sustainable in the future because it is likely that the two nations would at one point decide to send asylum seekers sent by the Australian navy to them back to Australia. This would not only see the countries in question contend over the issue of asylum seekers, but it would also see asylum seekers suffer in the sea and perhaps die in the process. Therefore, the future Australian border policies should take care of this fact.  

With respect to the above understanding, it would be important to consider the future of the Australian border policies especially the current boat policies. This is in relation to the fact the current government has in a way demonstrated that it is not interested in the regional cooperation framework. Instead, the government is implementing a regional deterrence framework through its current boat policies (Eterno & Das 2010, p. 141). In fact, other than coming up with better border policies, the current government is building on some policies that may not be sustainable simply because former governments developed them. For example, the government continues with the deterrence measure by investing huge sums of money on deterrence activities in Asia. The current measure of this nature involves sending Australian federal police to Asia to stop Asians from smuggling people. Another measure involves cooperating with other governments in protecting their borders (Power 2014, p. 5). All these measures seem to be good, but it might be good to consider what will happen in the future because it is impossible to sustain these measures given that the number of asylum seekers in the region is likely to increase with the rising number of wars in the region.

In realization that the current boat policies will not be sustainable in the future, the following part of the paper evaluates what Australian government needs to do to sustain border policies in the country in the future.

The future of border policies

While considering the future of the Australian border policies, it would be important to acknowledge the fact that the issue of protecting asylum seekers in the entire world is a responsibility of all nations in the world. This means that it is important to acknowledge that Australian government cannot run away from this fact by simply intercepting asylum seekers from entering the country and sending them back to their countries of origin. This statement acknowledges the fact that some western countries might be adopting similar deterrence measures, but in realization that such measures might not be easy to maintain in the future, the paper proposes what the Australian government should do to enhance the sustainability of its future border policies (Szilagyi 2012, p. 5). For this reason, the following are the suggestions for the future of the Australian border policies in realization that the government may not be able to justify its current boat policies in the light of the international law on refugees and the 1951 refugee convention.

First, the Australian government should now and in the future participate in enhancing political stability in the region. This would reduce the number of asylum seekers in the region. For this reason, the future border policies should address themselves to the plight of asylum seekers rather than running away from those plights. Largely, the Australian government has not focused its attention on this issue. Instead, the government has focused its attention on deterring asylum seekers and other illegal immigrants from entering the country through various mechanisms. However, in order to reduce the number of asylum seekers making their ways into the country by boats, the government should consider changing its tactics and focus its attention on improving political stability in the region. In proposing this measure, the author acknowledges the difficulties of implementing this strategy, but it is one of the measures that can be effective given that deterrence measures have failed in the past (Casa, Cobarrubias & John 2010, p. 156).

With regard to this issue, the Australian government should consider what it is doing in relation to the government of Myanmar currently used in appalling hostility in the Rakhine state. The Australian government should consider this issue because the violence in Rakhine state is displacing many Rohingyan people every year, and some of these people end up becoming asylum seekers in the country. On the other hand, given that Australian government does not agree with the Canadian, American and the British governments in terms of the way Sri Lankan government treats its Tamil minority, then the Australian government should consider its position on this issue (Power 2014, p. 6). In this case, the Australian government may consider working together with these governments to ensure that the Sri Lankan government changes its position on this issue. This may bring harmony in the region; thus, reduce the number of asylum seekers in the region. At the same time, the Australian government should promote discussions that aim at resolving refugee issues in the region rather than implementing the already ineffective deterrence measures. For example, the government should promote the Bali process like it has done for the last twelve years with the Indonesian government. Power claims that such measures would promote peace in the region; thus, reduce the number of asylum seekers (Power 2014, p. 6).

Second, the government needs to have proper immigration policies and border policies that are not influenced by political affiliations of the government that is in office. This is in relation to the fact that past measures that address the rising numbers of asylum seekers in the country have been influenced by the governments that have been in power. For example, the Rudd government abolished the issue of regional refugees’ centers once in power simply because before coming to power it promised to abolish them (Sinclair 2013, p. 1). While this would appear to be a commendable thing to do, it is not a good policy to follow because until when will incumbent governments continue changing policies for political reasons other than evaluating the practicality of those policies? In fact, while the issue of asylum seekers overwhelmed the Gillard government, this government simply re-opened the regional refugees’ centers at Manus and Nauru islands that had been closed by the former government. In spite of the fact that democratic processes uphold such practices, it would be important to develop border policies that take care of asylum seekers.  

The future of the Australian border policies does not lie on the political gains that governments in offices enjoy, but it lies on the ability of those governments to come up with effective policies that can withstand political changes. For this reason, the government should not come up with policies that will be abolished from time to time, but it should come up with policies that will be effective and withstand changes that come with time. In this case, the government needs to develop a committee of experts that would look into the refugee issues and propose good policies other than allowing politicians to come up with their own policies. The said policies should consider national interests as well as the interests of asylum seekers in relation to what the international laws on refugees recommend. They would also consider other relevant bodies in making their recommendations.          

Third, the Australian border policies need to address all the root causes of asylum seeking practices in the region because the current practices do not seem to address these causes. In responding to the issue of people smuggling in the region, Purdy claims that the demand for people smugglers will remain so long as there are refugees in the region that are willing to risk their lives in search of protection (Purdy 2010, p. 37). In contrast to this fact, the current border policies mainly focus their attention on creating hindrances to asylum seekers making their ways to Australia. This means that other than seeking to address the root causes of the problem, the current border policies only deter asylum seekers from making their ways to Australia. In relation to this fact, future border policies need to address the issues that give rise to refugees in the region. This means that future border policies should address some causes of natural disasters, famine and war in the region because addressing these issues would reduce the number of asylum seekers making their ways to Australia by boats. Although this is highly unlikely to take place, it is important for the government to consider doing this because deterrence measures have failed considerably. The government should understand that it is impossible theoretically and in practice to turn on and turn off illegal movement of people just like some current deterrence policies seem to suggest. In reality, the best practice would be to provide asylum seekers with satisfactory alternative measures other than deterring them from seeking asylum in Australia through legal and surveillance means.

In response to addressing the root causes of asylum seeking practices, the Australian government should provide asylum seekers at different Asian countries with an assurance that their current issues are being addressed. Accordingly, the government should ensure that resettlement processes in the regions are transparent and timely. At the same time, the government should ensure that refugee camps in the region are treating asylum seekers properly. The government may do this by availing funds to refugee camps in the region rather than developing offshore detention camps. This practice would reduce the number of asylum seekers running away from their countries of first asylum and opting to settle in Australia and other countries in the region. At the same time, Australia in collaboration with other countries that resettle the high number of refugees in the world should encourage the countries of the first asylum to improve their human right conditions for refugees in their countries (Purdy 2010, p. 37). Up to this moment, Australia and the other countries have done very little on this issue. As a replacement for this, future border policies in Australia should focus on encouraging countries of the first asylum to improving the living conditions for the refugees in those countries. This would reduce the number of refugees running away from these countries. However, right now, Australia cannot be able to do this because its current policies do not encourage countries of first asylum to do that. Therefore, the government should start by aligning its border policies with the international law on refugees to encourage other countries to do the same.                   

Fourth, in developing the future border policies, the Australian government should ensure that the status of refugees in Asia is in good condition. In other words, the Australian government should advocate for better living conditions for refugees in their refugees’ camps in Asia and elsewhere. However, this might be a challenging thing for the government to do because the government has not been doing this on its side. For example, while the government should advocate for the freedom of refugees at their Asian camps, the government has been violating the rights of refugees by detaining them in camps. At the same time, the government has been denying refugees their legal rights to work in the country among other things. In spite of this fact, the future for the Australian border policies rests on the effort the Australian government will put on promoting the protection of refugees in Asia and elsewhere.

Fifth, the government needs to integrate the international policies on asylum seeking practices in its future border policies as the international law on refugee and the 1951 refugee convention establishes. This would be in contrast to what has been happening in the past whereby the border protection policies do not regard the interests of asylum seekers, but has only been regarding national interests. Instead, in the future, the government should ensure that all its border policies take care of asylum seekers that make their ways into the country by whatever means. In other words, the future border policies need to take into consideration what the 1951 refugee convention together with the international law on refugees says regarding asylum seekers. This would make the future border policies sustainable because such policies would withstand political challenges at local and international levels. The rationale is that aligning future border policies with the international laws on refugees and the 1951 refugee convention would make the border policies sustainable. In this response, this paper recommends that future border policies in Australia should respond to global and regional refugee issues as well as foreign policies on asylum seekers.

The implication is that while promoting the status of refugees in Asia is a complicated issue, Australia should promote this aspect perhaps by changing its current practices on the same. The following are the nine suggestions that the Australian government may adopt in improving the status of refugees in Asia that in one way or another end up seeking asylum in the country. Accordingly, the future border policies should address these issues.  

The first suggestion is that the Australian government should advocate for the removal of barriers that exist in the refugee determination processes for various Asian countries. In this case, the government should start with its own barriers. For example, the government bases its argument for harsh boat policies on the fact that asylum seekers finding their ways to the country by boats jump the refugee resettlement queue. While this argument seems plausible, different authors such as Ozolins and Power have demonstrated that this argument does not hold and should not be used to deny asylum seekers the protection they require (Ozolins 2004, p. 5). In this response, the Australian government should start by removing its existing barriers that hinder asylum seekers that make their ways into the country by boats from settling in the country. Once the government succeeds in doing this, then it would be simpler for it to advocate for such measures in Asia and elsewhere. In other words, the Australian government would be able to advocate for the removal of existing barriers in Malaysia, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Thailand among other Asian countries once it removes its barriers. Some of these barriers hinder refugees from accessing domestic asylum systems as well as UNHCR’s asylum systems in respective countries like they do in Australia. With regard to this issue, the future border policies in Australia should remove some unnecessary barriers and challenges in the refugee determination processes. For example, they should reduce the detention period and ensure that asylum seekers in the country live in good conditions as they wait for the government to determine their plights.    

The second suggestion is that the Australian government should in the future ensure that NGOs in the country are able to offer essential services to refugees. In response to this issue, Power (2014, p. 1) accuses the Australian government of hindering the Australian refugee council from doing this by removing core funding from the organization in its budget allocations. While this issue has little to do with the Australian government in other countries, the government should ensure that host Asian governments allow NGOs in their countries to provide essential services to refugees. If the government ensures that this happens in the host countries, then the number of asylum seekers would reduce in the region. Accordingly, future border policies should encourage regional cooperation in addressing the plights of refugees in their countries of first asylum by ensuring NGOs offer essential services to asylum seekers and refugees (Bialasiewic 2012, p. 25). This would encourage regional governments to strengthen their current institutions so that they can be effective in offering services to refugees; thus, reduce the number of asylum seekers in the region.  

The third suggestion is that the Australian government should permit asylum seekers of whatever nature that find their ways to Australia to remain in the country as the government determines their cases and comes up with durable solutions. In the past, the government has done it, but lately the government does not offer asylum seekers protection in the country. Instead, the current government deters asylum seekers from finding their ways into the country by intercepting them before they make their ways to the country. However, if the government wants to resolve the matter amicably, the government should promote this aspect in the country and in the region. Once the government promotes this issue in the region, the number of asylum seekers in the region would reduce because majority of these people just need protection other than anything else (Abbott 2013, p. 45). As a result, they would remain in their countries of first asylum rather than making their ways to Australia in hope of getting the protection they require. In other words, the countries in the region would help in reducing the number of asylum seekers in the region.   

The fourth suggestion is that the government should stop detaining and mistreating asylum seekers because it has the responsibility under the 1951 refugee convention to protect such people. This would enable asylum seekers in the country to survive freely because they would have rights to work in the country. While this issue is a contentious one, it is an important one given that no one chooses to be an asylum seeker. This suggestion should go hand in hand with the above suggestion that permits asylum seekers to remain in the country while their cases are being determined. However, once their cases are determined the government should take the necessary measures.

The fifth suggestion is that as domestic support for asylum seekers develop in Australia and in other countries, respective governments should allow asylum seekers living in their countries to access government services such as health care and education. This would reduce pressure on the NGOs and UNHCR that provide such services to these people (Boswell 2003, p. 51). It would also reduce the likelihood of refugees running away from refugee camps. However, this does not suggest that anybody that finds his/her way into the country should become an asylum seeker; thus, access the said services. It suggests that this should happen to genuine asylum seekers that are in the process of waiting for the determination of their cases. For this reason, future border policies should address this issue.  

The sixth suggestion is that as asylum seekers remain in their countries of first asylum, the bodies that are responsible for resettling those people should be looking for durable solutions to the problems facing refugees and asylum seekers. For example, these bodies should be looking at the possibility of repatriating asylum seekers into their host countries, integrating them into host countries or resettling those people into third countries. In making this suggestion, the author acknowledges the fact that the Australian government has been promoting its current boat policies as a way of minimizing the number of asylum seekers that become Australian citizens through this method. However, the author acknowledges the fact that each country in the world should play certain roles in reducing the number of asylum seekers in the world because this issue affects all nations in the world and it has been increasing at an alarming rate. This means that inasmuch as Australia would want to be out of this issue, it is quite impossible to do it (Butcher 2013, p. 35). Therefore, the Australian government should contribute on the issue as other governments contribute as well. In fact, assisted voluntary repatriation would be a good thing to consider because asylum seekers do not have to remain in their host countries forever. Instead, once conditions at their countries of origin settle down those people can be resettled to those countries without necessarily becoming citizens of their host countries.

The seventh suggestion for the future of the Australian border policies would be to develop review boards for the current border policies in the country. The suggestion is that the development of such boards would be independent of political opinions that have this far hampered the development of effective border policies in the country. This means that other than making border policies political issues, it would be important to develop expert boards that would be independent of politics to come up with effective policies. Such policies would borrow their opinions from the countries that have effective border policies.

The eighth suggestion would be to encourage all countries in the region that have not signed the refugee convention and protocol to sign them. While this suggestion would seem to be insignificant, it would play critical roles in ensuring that each country in the region abides by the convention and respective protocols. Accordingly, those countries in the region that seem to mistreat asylum seekers would stop mistreating them. By so doing, the number of asylum seekers in the region would reduce, and as this takes place, Australia would benefit greatly. The ninth suggestion would be to enhance consistency in the asylum seeking processes in the region (Button 2002, p. 20). This would ensure that asylum seekers would enjoy the same advantages as they enjoy in Australia if they seek refuge in neighboring countries. As a result, it would reduce the number of asylum seekers in the region that threaten Australian border policies.  

Objections to the proposed measures

The author is not ignorant that some people might oppose the proposed methods of enhancing border policies in Australia. This part of the paper addresses some possible objections to the proposed measures.

The first objection would be that the proposed changes in the future border policies would be against the national interests because other than safeguarding the rights of the Australian citizens they would in a way threaten them. The argument would be that national interests are of great importance to the Australian citizens than asylum seeking practices that do not have anything to do with the Australian citizens. From a political viewpoint, this objection would be justifiable, but from a humanitarian viewpoint, it would be somewhat unjustifiable. This objection would be somewhat unjustifiable because Australia has a responsibility to play in safeguarding the rights of asylum seekers in the region even if this would not mean sacrificing national interests. In other words, the Australian government should strike a balance between national interests and safeguarding the interests of asylum seekers in the region. For example, just consider what would happen to the Australian citizens if they found themselves in conditions that asylum seekers find themselves in. To some extent, Australian citizens might do the same as asylum seekers do. Therefore, it would be important to consider the interests of asylum seekers in developing future border policies while maintaining national interests (Abbott 2013, p. 10).               

The second objection would be that it would be practically impossible for the future border policies to be independent of politics. This objection would be based on the fact that politicians are the only people that have the power to amend the constitution. Therefore, unless they develop future border policies, no one else can do that. This objection would appear to be justifiable, but it would be important to note that the government plays a critical role in the law making process because it influences major decisions made in the parliament. In this respect, the government should influence this process by establishing an independent committee of experts to advice its political stand in developing future border policies (Green 2006, p. 10). This way the government would approach the refugee issue in the country from an informed viewpoint rather than a political viewpoint. Nevertheless, this does not mean that the government should deny democracy a chance in developing future border policies, but it means that the government should spearhead the process in the direction that would be acceptable to all people in the country.  

The third objection would be that Australia does not have the capacity to influence refugee policies in the region because all the countries in the region are sovereign; thus, make independent decisions. Once again, this objection would appear justifiable, but it would be important to evaluate its justification. On a closer look, one establishes that Australia does not have to influence everything in the region by force. Instead, the government needs to lead in coming up with effective border policies that would be admirable in the region. When the government succeeds in doing this, it would encourage other governments in the region in coming up with such policies. The said policies should be in line with the 1951 refugee convention and other relevant convention and laws (Guild & Minderhoud 2006, p. 110). In fact, this exercise would encourage regional cooperation in addressing the plights of refugees in the region.

Conclusion

This paper argues that the current boat policies in Australia aimed at deterring asylum seekers from making their ways to Australia by boats are unsustainable because it might not be possible to sustain them in the light of the international law on refugees and the 1951 refugee convention. The rationale behind this argument is that the government has not considered the outcomes of these policies in terms of what other countries in the region might possibly do in reiteration or once they decide that they are fed up with what the government is doing in sending asylum seekers to them. In addition, the government appears to downplay what the international laws on refugees and the 1951 refugee convention together with other relevant bodies require governments to do in safeguarding the interests of genuine asylum seekers. The paper bases its argument on what the current government is doing and what previous governments have done in relation to the current boat policies. After evaluating what the said governments have done, the paper demonstrates that deterrence measures the governments have been practicing have failed to consider the interests of asylum seekers. Instead, the deterrence measures have only taken care of national interests. Accordingly, the paper recommends that in the future the government should do the following to enhance its border policies because the current deterrence measures are ineffective in addressing the rights of asylum seekers. 

First, the paper recommends that the government should develop border policies that would set an example in the region. In this case, the government should stop setting a bad example by deterring asylum seekers from entering into the country because doing so would have negative consequences on the country in the future. As a result, future border policies should address themselves to the rising number of asylum seekers in the region. This would encourage the countries of the first asylum in the region to follow the suit. Second, the paper recommends that future border policies should take into consideration the plights of asylum seekers in their countries of first asylum. The government would do this by setting some funds to go to the refugee camps in various parts of the region. This would stop refugees in those camps from running away from those camps in hope of finding refuge in Australia. Third, the paper recommends that the government should consider addressing some factors that cause asylum seeking in the region. With regard to this issue, the paper recommends that the government should address political instabilities in the region, war, famine and natural disasters. By so doing, the government would reduce the number of asylum seekers in the region. Fourth, the paper recommends that future border policies should align themselves with the international laws on refugees and the 1951 refugee convention. This would enhance the sustainability of the said policies. 

In general, the paper acknowledges the fact that Australia like any other country in the world should take part in addressing the rising cases of asylum seeking in the world. The paper acknowledges the fact that if each country and person takes part in addressing some factors that contribute to asylum seeking, the problem would come to an end. For this reason, the paper does not recommend future border policies to deter asylum seekers from seeking protection in the country. Instead, Australia should accord these people protection while looking for sustainable solutions to the problem.       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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