Australia: Thorny asylum issues face new Australian government

Judy told you the other day, here, that the conservatives are now in control of the government in Australia and that immigration policy differences played a huge role in the election outcome.

“Hardliner” Scott Morrison appointed immigration minister in Abbott government. Photo: . AAP/David Crosling

I’m in no position to analyze the myriad issues facing the new government over its “boat people” policy going forward, but here is a legal writer at , Alex Reilly, laying out the mine fields ahead for the likely new immigration minister, Scott Morrison.


Asylum seeker policy experienced a rush of activity in the lead-up to the election. Behind the Abbott government’s bold promise to “stop the boats” in its first term of government is a series of specific proposals – some adopted from Labor, and some of the Coalition’s own creation.

The new immigration minister, Scott Morrison, inherits a portfolio that is in disarray. There are tens of thousands of asylum seekers already in Australia who have made an application for a Protection Visa, but who have not had their claim considered at first instance by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC). They are in various forms of detention or in the community on bridging visas with no rights to work.

I couldn’t possibly begin to analyze this, other than to say it sure looks “thorny!”  Read it all.

You might want to see our previous 110 posts on Australia where the public is in a much greater state of agitation over illegal aliens (mostly from Muslim countries) than Americans seem to be.   Or at least the issue is a pivotal election issue there and has not YET reached that level in the US.

Illegal alien “mother ship” captured off coast of Italy

A day at the beach in Italy: The bodies of the six drowned Eygptians were laid out on a popular beach in Catania, Sicily’s second city. Photograph: Dario Azzaro/AFP/Getty Images

Reuters has reported that Italian authorities have captured the so-called “mother ship” used recently to ferry Syrians (and North Africans) across the Mediterranean to Europe.  Illegal alien crossings (with a loss of life) have increased dramatically since that Obama Administration-applauded “Arab Spring” got underway in Africa.  The captured traffickers are Egyptians.

From Reuters:

 ROME (Reuters) – Italian authorities have seized a “mother ship” used to traffic illegal migrants across the Mediterranean and picked up about 200 Syrians fleeing the civil war in their homeland, officials said on Thursday.

European Union and Italian patrol boats chased down the fishing boat with a crew of 15 that had been used to ferry the immigrants into international waters near the Sicilian coast, prosecutors and police said.

The vessel’s crew had already transfered the refugees into a smaller boat for the final leg of their voyage. Italian police boats collected 199 migrants, including 64 children, all of whom were Syrian.

The fishing boat was towed back to the port of Catania in Sicily. The seizure of the mother ship was a result of an investigation into the drowning of six migrants off Sicily in August, prosecutors said in a statement.

The smugglers are part of an Egyptian crime group, they said. The exact departure point of the fishing boat was still unknown.

The numbers are growing and countries on the Mediterranean are feeling the crunch—most especially Italy and Malta.

 Almost 9,000 migrants reached Italy by boat between July 1 and August 10, the Interior Ministry said.

In the 12 months up to August 10, more than 24,000 came, compared with more than 17,000 in the same period a year earlier, and almost 25,000 in the 12 months before that, the ministry said.

The photo is from this story at The Guardian.

Another complication for Obamacare—Tagalog(?) interpretation needed

One more headache for those trying to figure out how to run Obamacare—-federal law requires foreign language interpreters for government health care.

So how are they possibly going to get the information to the millions of Americans who don’t speak English?  And, yikes! how much will it cost?

To add to the chaos, the US State Department’s Refugee Resettlement Program is every day adding to the potpourri of obscure languages they will need to be ready for.

Here is the AP story at the Houston Chronicle:

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Set on a gritty corner of Oakland’s International Boulevard, the nonprofit Street Level Health Project offers free checkups to patients who speak a total of 22 languages, from recent Mongolian immigrants seeking a doctor to Burmese refugees in need of a basic dental exam.

It also provides a window into one of the challenges for state officials who are trying to implement the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama’s sweeping health care overhaul.

Understanding the law is a challenge even for governors, state lawmakers and agency officials, but delivering its message to non-English speakers who can benefit from it is shaping up as a special complication. That is especially true in states with large and diverse immigrant populations.

For Zaya Jaden, a 35-year-old from Mongolia, getting free care for her sister’s persistent migraine was a much higher priority than considering how the expansion of the nation’s social safety net through the Affordable Care Act might benefit her.

The sisters crammed into the clinic’s waiting room, sandwiched between families chatting in the indigenous Guatemalan language Mam, and discussed whether enrolling in Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act would work for the family’s finances.

“It was a good idea that Obama had, but I don’t know if it will work for me,” said Jaden, who gets private insurance for her family through her job as a laundress at an Oakland hotel and currently makes too much money to qualify for Medicaid. “If I make less than what I make to try to qualify for the government program, how could I pay my rent?”

Jaden’s ambivalence demonstrates the cultural and language hurdles that California and several other states are facing as they build exchanges — or health insurance marketplaces —and try to expand coverage to ethnic and hard-to-reach populations.


The U.S. Census estimates that more than 55 million people speak a language other than English at home. Nearly 63 percent of those are Spanish-speakers, with the highest concentrations in Texas, California and New Mexico. Chinese was the third most commonly spoken language, with large populations in California, New York, Hawaii and Massachusetts.

Five other languages have at least 1 million speakers: Tagalog,* French, Vietnamese, German and Korean.

Glad it’s not me figuring out how to make this work!  And, imagine what it will cost.  In one of the first posts I ever wrote here at RRW (July 2007) I reported that the Montgomery County Court (MD) system was shelling out a $1 million a year on interpreters for immigrant court cases.  I wonder if the CBO figured interpreter costs into the taxpayers’ bill for Obamacare?

*Tagalog?  Go here.