You show me yours, I'll show you mine

The bizarro world refugee swap plan (whereby we swap Sri Lankan refugees who’ve arrived at Christmas Island and been shunted off to Nauru with Cuban refugees who’ve been intercepted trying to reach the States) has almost everyone perplexed. Though maybe the whole flight plan from Guantanamo Bay to Adelaide idea could work better with bulk ticket purchases? Actually, I think Kerry Nettle is on to something. Though her gender is mis-ascribed, her comments are being picked up in American news reports. This from Voice of America.

“This is about political mates helping each other out,” Nettle said. “Immigration issues in Australia and in the United States have been issues that conservative governments have sought to stand up on, and they’re now helping each other out. It’s nothing more than a political fix in the lead up to the election campaign.”

The unconvincing explanations from Kevin Andrews demonstrate that the plan makes little political sense in the Australian context. “We determine…” etc is dead as an electoral issue here, except insofar as its legacy will return to haunt Howard as public awareness of his history of deceit grows. But in America, high profile Republicans are seeking to revive illegal immigration as a stick to hit the Democrats with. But Cuban refugees also pose a political problem – many are relatives of the largely GOP voting Cuban-American population in Florida, which will be a hotly contested state in the next elections.

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Posted in immigration, Law, politics, USA
28 comments on “You show me yours, I'll show you mine
  1. More than a billion dollars (and rising) spent since 2001 as a consequence of excising islands and the Pacific ‘Solution’, and this is where we end up – refugee swapsies with the USA!?

    This is a very clear example of the complete lack of coherent rationale in the government’s asylum seeker policies (other than short-term, narrow political fix rationales, which is not exactly a good prism to filter refugee processing through).

    Having said that, gaining resettlement in the USA is a better outcome than being locked up for five years or being send back to Iran or Afghanistan, which has been the fate of a number of refugees in recent years – or being sent to insecurity and risk in Malaysia or Indonesia as has been considered very recently – so I suppose as bizarre irrational, incoherent and absurd band-aid policy options go, it potentially has a better practical outcome than some of the others that have been floated.

    Cuban refugees are becoming politically problematic for the USA, and West Papuan ones have certainly been politically difficult for Ausralia (and the Burmese too to a lesser extent – more with Malaysia than Burma), so there could be shallow political attraction for both governments. Hard to think of anything more ridiculous as a ‘deterent’ measure though – leaving aside the fact that it is a blatant breach of the Refugee Convention to use measures intended to punish/deter refugees who are in a country which is asignatory to the Convention.

  2. Christine Keeler says:

    I’ll take a mad punt right out of the blue on absolutely no factual basis whatsoever: This has got something to do with yet more pandering to our Merkin cousins because, with Fidel nearing the time when he goes to that great Workers Paradise in the sky, they’ll be faced with a feckin’ huge and immediate refugee problem the moment he shuffles off the mortal.

    Sending a message that they won’t end up in Florida or Guantanamo in transit, but in some godforsaken hellhole on the other side of the world may not, in the minds of some, seem completely barking mad.

    Anyway, must pop away for a few minutes and attend to these secret radio transmissions I’m receiving in my teeth.

  3. Kim says:

    What Andrew said.

    And yes, Christine, I strongly suspect this whole absurdity was cooked up inside the beltway.

  4. Christine Keeler says:

    Mind you, Kim, you would have thought the Kirribilli Coconut would have wanted the word ‘Guantanamo’ completely expunged from the political lexicon for the remainder of the campaign.

  5. Katz says:

    Practical question.

    How long will it take for those appalling “people smugglers” to use this swap deal as an opportunity vastly to “value add” their business?

    Hey folks! You thought you were paying me to take to to Australia? Well guess what! If I get you to Excised Australia, then that is your ticket to the Land of the Free and the Hope of the Brave.

    That will cost you $5000 extra. And cheap at the price.

    Folks from the Crescent of Instability will be falling over themselves to get a piece of this deal.

    Someone in Canberra, or inside the Beltway, or both, must be smoking too much crack.

  6. Lefty E says:

    Personally, I look forward to the cigar bars. Bring it on.

  7. Mark says:

    There’s one in West End already, Lefty E – on Russell St, I think!

  8. Lefty E says:

    Saw it last time I was up Mark! Just round the corner from Melbourne St. Nice little nook.

    Cripes, imagine how dull Australia would be without migrants and refugees. Lamb roast and a cuppa, luv?

  9. Mark says:

    The Salvadoran restaurant on Boundary St (masquerading these past few years as Mexican so as not to confuse the punters too much) is also very good value. Sadly, the excellent Peruvian joint on Merthyr Road didn’t last.

  10. Lefty E says:

    Yes, El Torito’s is a top little tienda. Have a Chicken Mole for me next time you’re there.

  11. Mark says:

    With pleasure! I must remember to find out when the Latin American community patronal festival is on – saw a poster when I ate there a couple of weeks ago but it slipped my mind. Groovy food plus Our Lady of Guadalupe!

  12. Lefty E says:

    Latin America is certainly Catholicism at its most visually splendid. I was once in Guatemala for Semana Santa (All Saint’s week) and it was really something.

    Even for the supremely lapsed Lefty E (havent set foot in the one true Church since baptism!)

  13. Graham Bell says:

    Of course, no Cuban or Haitian has ever heard of Australia so they wouldn’t want to come here, would they? Would they? :-O

    This scheme is so barking mad that it can’t be for real ….. so there are three possibilities [1] Paper-bags of used banknotes crossed desks and it’s called Corru—–. [2] It did indeed originate inside the Beltway – from the same folks who brought you dirt-cheap Iraqi oil and a swift response to Hurricane Katrina, [3] It’s part of a scare campaign to frighten the gullible mugs into voting for Howard again. Take your pick.

    I has been obvious that both sides of politics fall over themselves to savage the people-smugglers with a damp feather but it’s straight behind the razor-wire for their customers.

    What gives you the idea that a mere extra $5000 would get anyone into Australia? From today on, it’s a gold-rush and the sky’s the limit …. so go right back to the end of the new queue.

  14. Lefty E says:

    Yes, its quite a bizarre one Graham. Im enjoying watching the coalition ringing the old bells, blowing the old party favours – and no one’s listening. Punters have completely switched off them.

    Its like sitcoms you found funny 10 years ago. Now all you notice is how predictable, irritating and dated they are.

  15. Nabakov says:

    Yeah bring on the 21st century Mariels. They’ll be far more fun and much more productive than all those fucking Brit backpackers overstaying their work visas.

    Why aren’t armed immigration squads hunting them down as they swing their inordinate-sized backpacks into the faces of regular tram commuters while talking loudly on their mobiles in Essex accents about blagging more money from home while fucked up in Cairns.

    Let’s have some decent, polite, hardworking and funky Cubans for a change instead of that pommy scum.

  16. It’s a win-win for both partners – the US government gets rid of the spics who are causing them political problems, the Oz government gets rid of an equal number of wogs we don’t want here. The wogs we don’t want get to go to a country where there’s no established (government cultivated) prejudice against them (so they win too). The only obvious losers are the Cubans, who would probably prefer to settle in Florida.

    There’s probably a very sound Burkean justification for this deal. At this stage, I’m not all that interested in hearing it.

  17. Anyway, as long as they don’t send too many Cuban poofs and lezzoes, things will probably work out at this end.

  18. Guise says:

    Latest news suggests we’re swapping 80-something Sri Lankans on Nauru for 200 Cubans and Haitians already at Guantanamo. Since the deal seems to involve a one-for-one swap, we just have to wait for another 110 asylum seekers so we can be sure the Cousins stick to the bargain.

    I agree that the snakeheads must be rubbing their hands with delight. But the Yanks stand to gain the most from this deal: there’s a good chance that the possibility of ending up in Australia rather than the US will act as a positive deterrent to many Cubans. The US at least has an active and growing Spanish-language culture and a strong Cuban community (albeit one fraught with problems) which supports new arrivals; Cubans dumped in Australia will find none of these.

    Haitians probably won’t care either way. So there’s a good chance we could end up with an influx of non English-speaking refugees from one of the poorest and unhealthiest countries in the world; one with a high incidence of AIDS, too – something I’m sure the PM will be delighted to hear.

  19. QuietStorm says:

    Bushfire Bill (well, his sister, actually) came up with an interesting and sensible, although somewhat insidious, theory in comments over at Blogocracy:

    “My sister reckons this is Howard’s way of enticing more boat people to Australia so that he can be seen to be telling them to go away.

    The Green Card possibility is exactly what he wants. That’s part of the plan.

    More boat people = more “They shall not passâ€? posturing by the Little General. Supposedly, the Battlers will desert Rudd and vote for Johnny, just for old time’s sake.”

    Does this sound feasible to my fellow Prodeans? Will we be seeing yet more iterations of the infamous “We will decide …” ? Is it possible Howard is trying to manufacture another Tampa in the hope that lightning will strike twice, and he’ll be carried over the line by the border security vote? I personally wouldn’t put it past him.

  20. Lefty E says:

    I wouldnt put all sorts of desperate flailing past him, QS.

    But Rudd can just note that Howard practically invited them this time by turning Xmas island into a transit lounge for the Land of the Free.

    Of course, the reality is the whole policy is based on a flawed “economic migrant” model. Political refugees will come whatever the legal arrangements, and few economic migrants will risk the leaky boats – or ever have for that matter. So I wouldnt be expecting too much border action just yet.

    But you know, what about the 4m Iraqis who’ve fled the nightmare that post-regime change Iraq? Any thoughts for them, Ratty?

  21. Katz says:

    Ratty [high on crack]: We decide who gets a Green Card.

  22. QuietStorm says:

    Ratty [high on crack]: We decide who gets a Green Card.

    … and the circumstances under which they get it?

  23. suz says:

    There is something indescribably nasty about this trading in human beings.

  24. Lefty E says:

    Maybe its part of the Free Trade Agreement Suz.

  25. philip travers says:

    I think this measure has to be as vigoursly opposed ,if not more so, for the sake of Cubans generally,and some may of already departed the U.S.A to other places.The reason for this is the apparent and real racism in the U.S.A and the Cubans were fairing,faring, well and multiplication the name of the game, has worried the FUERhrerites from upsetting the established order.There doesnt need to be a great conflict between Cuba and the U.S.A. in fact,the Americans really need Cuba as a neighbour,and are just not willing to see that.All these people trained up as soldiers,willing to take commands from above in Cuba could immediately be put to use as National Gaurds in the U.S.A in emergencies like Florida has and the whole country. It is a phoney division now and in the future,to say on the death of Fidel there will be a flood is assuming it will go Northwards.The U.S.A. is silly beyond comprehension to of not built on what Fidel has achieved in his life time and evolve that to a more distinct All Americas development lifting up the peoples North and South.Fidel rarely complains about the American populace.Do not support further divisions by meekly accepting Howards racism development by default.Either people are invited or are real refugees from Cuba now and in the future .I would expect some clearer thinking at this blogsite but the terror of unable to change one policy must be working towards two evils make a default right.

  26. pablo says:

    Minister Andrews has been saying that this arrangement is nothing more than Canberra currently has with countries like Denmark and Sweden where a handful of our castaways have found a safe haven. So what’s a couple of hundred Cubans for ours. Then again, Christmas Island has capacity for many more and who’s to say rendition isn’t also part of the beltway deal.
    Like Lefty E I’m wondering what is anticipated in the estimated 4 million Iraqis holed up in Jordan and elsewhere. The people smugglers tended to know their customers and must be praising Allah for the new high seas opportunities. Anyone for Spanish lessons? Rudd must be relieved he’s away long enough to try and figure out a chess play that doesn’t frighten the punters or get himself wedged.

  27. Graham Bell says:

    Lefty E:
    Did you mean Free Trade Agreement or F.T.A. = F**k The Australians?

    Cubans would fit very neatly into Australia’s large but usually unnoticed Hispanic community. Besides, there are quite a few Cubans here already – including “Castro’s gifts” of a couple of decades ago.

    However, they would not make a lazy employer’s fantasy of docile, undemanding, cheap workers come to life.

    There is indeed plenty of room in the Christmas Island Konzentrationslager for border-crossers as well as rendered terrorism semi-suspects …… and for Australian political prisoners, election sceptics and assertive citizens too.

  28. Long John says:

    “Maybe it’s part of the Free Trade Agreement” LOL OMG I just love that!

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