“When leaving home is the only way out”, The Age, 15/12. Economic migrants deserve no sympathy in my view. They should stay at home and fix their own problems!
Emigration has long been the Irish escape at times of greatest hardship. More than 2 million people fled the country during the Great Famine of the 1840s; half a million in the 1950s; and 200,000 during a downturn in the late 1980s. The Irish diaspora – of emigrants and their descendants – now vastly outnumbers the Irish at home and is estimated at more than 70 million people.
Critics say this history has taught Ireland’s policymakers to rely, like Aesop’s lazy donkey, on a lightening of the load through emigration whenever times get tough. A study of 90 young unemployed people by the Youth Council of Ireland this year found that 70 per cent thought they would emigrate and many believed the government was relying on it.
“It’s a handy way for them to export the problem and to cut the costs ,” says one. Another says: “I am sure it is built into the economic projections for the next five years because there doesn’t seem to be any meaningful policies being developed to help young unemployed people.” Youth unemployment is running at 24 per cent.
It’s a similar situation with the financial crisis in Greece – “Call for visa reforms to attract Greeks”, 25/6/2011: a lot of people there are wanting to emigrate to Australia in hopes of securing jobs here. But why should they get special treatment, or expect to come here at all? Australia has its own problems with unemployment; having a huge number of migrants come only exacerbates the problem and breeds resentment. Countries should be made to suck it up and take responsibility for their own situations rather than expect to send their “surplus” citizens elsewhere. (Incidentally there was an article addressing the issue of surplus workers, “The Age of the Superfluous Worker”, NYT, 24/11 – no, it’s not a nice term but the brutally unpleasant truth is that quite a lot of people, myself included, could be regarded as expendable; another symptom of an overpopulated world.) Ireland’s situation also demonstrates the fallacy of a growth-based economy, in this case one based on an overinflated property market (as is the same situation in Victoria).
“Taxpayers wear burden of 60,000 illegal immigrants”, Herald-Sun, 21/11. It’s no wonder the welfare system is overburdened if this alarming report is anything to go by; the main culprits being visa overstayers. I would be extremely harsh with such parasites: if caught, they would be fingerprinted, DNA recorded, then expelled from the country and banned from returning. This is where I diverge from the more liberal types, who seem to want to throw the borders open to all. I get so exasperated with their views on this issue; they are idealistic fools. (An example in other places is at MetaFilter, a long-running U.S.-based community weblog; the clueless majority there are in favor of leniency towards illegal immigrants coming into their country despite the huge costs in terms of jobs and welfare.)
Most illegal immigrants arrive on tourist or temporary work visas. Documents released to the Herald Sun under Freedom of Information show three-in-four illegals came here on visitor visas. One-in-seven arrived as students and one-in-15 disappeared after winning temporary residency. Monash University migration expert Dr Bob Birrell said they were the extreme of an even larger group, mostly students, who gained bridging visas as they sought to extend their stay beyond their original visas’ expiry. Dr Birrell said many of the 332,000 overseas students had expected to gain permanent residency once they finished their courses, only to discover that rule changes in 2010 meant this was more difficult, or impossible. Those with bridging visas were allowed to work and were “ferocious competitors” with local youths for low-skilled jobs, particularly in a tightening market.
Can you blame citizens for being resentful of immigration when it means increasing competition for resources? I am not anti-immigration, but the current too-high rate (200 000+ per year – “Migrant arrivals numbers to rise”, H-S, 15/11) should be drastically reduced. The international student program should also be curbed (it is often used as a “back door” to immigration). If the universities, who rely on their fees, don’t like it – too bad.