Andrews at one point suggests lowering entry levels from Africa on the grounds that migrants from these areas had problems settling in Australia, were more likely to be involved in crime and so on. These increased proclivities it is claimed stem from difficult upbringings in countries such as the Sudan.
Applications for entry via the r&h program vastly exceed any plausible quota that will ever be agreed to in Australia. Thus selectivity must be practised. The issue is whether selectivity should be practised on the basis of migrant need or suitability for resettlement in Australia.
Those left-wingers who see Australia as a social planning experiment conducted by pop sociologists and political scientists – rather than the home to Australian people - put all weight on the needs of those seeking to migrate (Pravda in Melbourne of course holds this view) whereas I think the welfare of the recipient community also needs to be a factor. On this basis it seems to me that entry should reflect both refugee need and resettlement prospects. Not exclusively one or the other.
On this basis switching the direction of the intake to accepting more Asian refugees – perhaps those displaced by the current events in Burma – is an option worth considering. I say it is an option because migrants from South East Asia seem to have integrated well into the Australian community, built good businesses and for the most part become exemplary citizens. Moreover, there are issues of economic self-interest in having communities of such migrants in Australia as well as reduced resettlement costs given existing family and community ties such people have here.
One major issue in evaluating this option is that hard data on the resettlement and crime costs associated with different groups of migrants are hard to come by. Almost all claims reflect anecdote rather than careful study. Indeed one could imagine the left wing savagery that would emerge were an academic report to be published showing a particular group faced higher costs.
Immigration authorities over the years, and groups such as the former Bureau of Immigration Research, have refused to carry out such studies. Yet it does seem to me that there are problems with the resettlement experiences of those coming from Africa. This is made clear when one reads accounts from those supporting such migrations.
Toby Hall writing in The Age this morning criticises the ‘stories’ and untruths’ associated with African migrants and the proclivity to ‘demonise’ them but then goes on to write:
It's true that these groups face a unique set of challenges in this country, but we knew that would be the case, and their issues have either gone unaddressed, or been exacerbated, because of poor planning and a lack of services.
Victoria is the second-most popular settlement area for newly arrived communities from the Horn of Africa, receiving about 24 per cent of the new settlers. In 2004-05, Sudanese refugees were the largest component of Australia's humanitarian program, and have predominantly settled in Melbourne.
About half of the arrivals are children and young people with poor literacy and numeracy. Some have not been to school at all. Some have spent years in camps. Many have suffered abuse. Their families have typically experienced torture and trauma, the loss of relatives and spent considerable time in refugee camps.
As a result of the violence, many families are headed by single mothers who are themselves victims of sexual assault and abuse.
As families wrestle with the massive cultural differences in Australia, a new set of tensions and challenges have arisen. Young arrivals rub up against traditionally minded parents as they take on Western values and culture to fit in at their schools'.
Hall then goes on to write about the need to spend more public money resettling such people - further confirming that there is an issue of concern here.
If one places weight not only on the welfare of immigrants but also on their host community then it is reasonable to consider options which more selectively target high resettlement cost groups and put increased weight instead on settlers who better satisfy the other relevant group of people whose welfare needs to be considered here namely resident Australians.