I who may well be...

Musings from the perspective of a human being who may well be not locatable completely within the usual categories of male or female or gay or straight or transsexual or intersexed or exploiter or exploited or supplier or consumer or performer or spectator.

Friday, October 13, 2006

YOU Can Free a Refugee!

Vanstone's piece in the Herald yesterday is either an evil person trying to be evil to refugees, or a clever person explaining the flaws in the evil system she is the minister for. The Minister wants to stop appeals and refugees having time to prepare their case better and gain community support, because with those things, their refugee cases are eventually accepted.. and this is bad how? Um, bad for politicians relying on racist votes. But good for those who want to be nice to people.

The shocking implication is that with enough community support, that's people like me and the other uni students, activists, actual non-tribal-centric Christians, and just compassionate human beings who visit refugees and write letters of support, we can have every person seeking asylum released from detention into a fair and quality life in the community.

It can be a hard slog, and I've been visiting people held hostage in detention for eighteen months now, but I've helped three of these people be released. One is coming to stay in this room in an hour or so, so I'll have to stop typing and get to making the room more guest-friendly.

But please, consider, this a concrete thing you can do counter Howard's pro-fear and anti-humanitarian policies. Just connect with a refugee action coalition in your state, and you can get the names of people held hostage wanting visits, and through that connect with others, and perhaps find that a letter from you is the straw that breaks the camel's back.

And now, time for the fat lady to sing:

http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/immigration-to-tighten-terms-for-asylum-seekers/2006/10/11/1160246197889.html

Immigration to tighten terms for asylum seekers

David HumphriesOctober 12, 2006

UNSUCCESSFUL asylum seekers will get less opportunity to appeal for ministerial intervention and sponsors of humanitarian refugees will need jobs and other means of support under tougher rules foreshadowed by the Immigration Minister, Amanda Vanstone.

"If you're just out of a refugee camp, haven't mastered English, never had a job, how can you argue you can be an anchor for someone else's settlement here?" she said.

"And if, when you are refused refugee status, you're given a once-off opportunity to provide all relevant information about yourself, and told the merits of your case are there and now, you wouldn't get these cases going forever."

She said ministerial intervention was intended for exceptional cases, but sameness characterised the hundreds of applications bogging her office.

"Not only was there no time set for ministerial intervention applications, but the system allows for repeated appeals," Senator Vanstone said. This seemingly small administrative failure had unwittingly had a dramatic effect on behaviour and outcomes.

Earlier, Senator Vanstone told the Public Service Commission in Canberra it was almost impossible to be an anchor and support for the humanitarian entrant if the would-be sponsor didn't have a steady job.

She said the right of unsuccessful asylum seekers to seek ministerial intervention in overturning official refusals had become unwieldy and abused.

"The intervention process is clogged with cases that are depressingly familiar and anything but unique or exceptional," Senator Vanstone said.

An intervention considered legitimate came after the 2002 Bali bombings, in which a Middle Eastern mother was killed. Her husband was released from immigration detention in Australia and granted residency so he could properly care for the couple's young daughter.

"Those who have no entitlement to stay should go," Senator Vanstone said.

"But if 'no' simply means 'no for now, but come back any time', I believe it will encourage people to litigate, simply as a means of delaying their time here and, in that time, building community support for another intervention request."

"The wily and the lucky" used intervention at any point and repeatedly to build an emotional case to stay over and above their legal entitlement, she said. Personal support by those who came to know and associate with unsuccessful asylum seekers was "entirely understandable".
"What we need to do is to have the final decision made more quickly. And it needs to be final," Senator Vanstone said.

Ministerial intervention should be retained, but "we should require all applicants to state their case straight after they get a negative decision from the [Migration Review Tribunal or Refugee Review Tribunal]," she said, otherwise the system was unfair to those who accepted rulings and left, and to those overseas who were refused and could not apply for ministerial intervention.
Senator Vanstone anticipated criticism that her changes meant, for instance, that those whose home country circumstances had deteriorated in the meantime would be denied ministerial intervention. Such cases would be eligible for residency under a separate process, she said.

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