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Washington Post on Australian “Immigration” Debate

Washington Post on Australian “Immigration” Debate

Australia and Canada’s rightward turn on immigration. Advocates for greater immigration restrictions often compare America (unfavorably) to other Western industrialized countries that have tried to tighten up their policies for accepting newcomers. In fact, a strikingly similar immigration debate is playing out right now in Australia and Canada, which both have a profile akin to the United States as young nations built up on centuries of immigration.

In place of targeting illegal Latino immigrants, conservatives in Canada have recently seized upon Tamil asylum-seekers from Sri Lanka who have been arriving in large groups via boat — a phenomenon that began in Australia during the 1990s. They allege that some of the Tamil immigrants are falsely claiming to be refugees, having paid thousands to human smugglers, and are being used by the Tamil Tigers to build up terrorist networks abroad.

Such arguments have inflamed the Australian immigration debate for years — and they also echo the attacks that the American right has made on illegal immigrants for allegedly exploiting the system and sending “terror babies” over the border. Fueled by the continuing controversy over asylum-seekers, immigration emerged as a major political issue in the Australian elections this year, which happened this past weekend and could end up empowering some immigration hawks.

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