NEWS: Australia: Migrant laws not coping with people traffic:

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Subject: NEWS: Australia: Migrant laws not coping with people traffic:
From: Jyothi Kanics (jkanics@igc.org)
Date: Thu Jun 03 1999 - 19:06:57 EDT


Migrant laws not coping with people traffic: researcher
By Sam Lienert
Australian Associated Press, Tuesday, June 1, 1999

ADELAIDE, June 1 AAP - Australia's immigration laws are barely making a
dent in the numbers of illegal migrants pouring into this country with the
help of international crime gangs, a university researchers said today.

The national laws are no match for the multi-billion dollar migrant
trafficking industry, according to Adelaide University researcher Andreas
Schloenhardt.

He wants Australia to work with the home countries of the illegal migrants
to stem the flow.

Commenting on the recent highly publicised government detection of
boatloads of illegal immigrants, he said they made only a small dent in a
huge problem that urgently needed international cooperation.

Mr Schloenhardt said there were probably about four or five times as many
illegal immigrants arriving undetected in Australia each year, mostly by
air, as were found by authorities.

He said much of the illegal immigration was masterminded by large
international crime organisations, which lent migrants the money needed to
get to Australia, then used that debt to force them into a life of crime
when they arrived.

"On an annual basis, there were 2,100 illegal immigrants by air in the
1998-99 financial year. This is the minimum scale of the problem, these are
the ones that are detected," Mr Schloenhardt told AAP.

"The dark (undetected) figure is four to five times as much. We probably
detected around 3,000 illegal immigrants in the past year, I would estimate
the dark figure being around 10,000 roughly speaking."

Mr Schloenhardt said about four times more illegal immigrants had been
detected arriving by air in the past year compared with five years ago but
the federal government had been slow to take the problem seriously.

"If you look at the official statements made over the last few years, the
federal police and the immigration department basically ignore the problem.
They say the real problem is overstayers and not so much the initial
illegal immigrants," he said.

"It is only now that the government is trying to look at the immigration
act in this respect."

Mr Schloenhardt said the rise in illegal immigration during the past 10
years was a worldwide problem, caused by international politics, global
unemployment and lower airfares.

He said illegal immigrants were mostly from China, Vietnam and Sri Lanka,
lured by crime rings offering jobs and loans.

Australia should cooperate with authorities in the countries where the
migrants came from as trying to intercept them on arrival was not working.

"It's time that we look at cooperative efforts to combat this problem, this
is what's happening at the international level at the moment," he said.

"The Prime Minister (John Howard) here set up a taskforce on border
surveillance but I don't think this is going to get us far."

But Mr Schloenhardt admitted it could be difficult to work with countries
such as China and Indonesia, due to their political difficulties.


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