Thanks to the implementation of Trumpian border controls, migration to Australia is at a 10-year low.
Such policies, championed by Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, led to the acceptance of just 162,000 immigrants in 2017. This is down from about 182,000 in 2016.
Among Dutton’s key priorities has been a crackdown on dishonest applications. “We’re making sure that people who do become part of our Australian family are coming here to work, not lead a life on welfare,” Dutton told reporters. “I want to make sure we scrutinize each application so we’re getting the best possible migrants.”
His comments reflect President Trump’s goals for legal immigration, which include policies that would award visas based on merit.
Dutton has defended his harsh immigration policies as necessary in order to deter people-smuggling boats seeking to enter Australia illegally. According to Australian law, illegals caught at sea are returned to their homes or sent to offshore processing centers. Even those deemed genuine refugees are sent home if they try to enter the country illegally.
Australia’s humanitarian intake (which was not included in the immigration figure cited above) was about 22,000 for the 2016-2017 time period. This includes 8,200 refugees from Iraq and Syria.
“The Australian government’s agreement with the US to resettle some refugees is a one-off solution that is not available to new arrivals,” explains Major General Andrew Bottrell in a video produced by the Australian government.
“It will not be available to anyone who attempts to arrive in Australia in the future. You will be intercepted and turned back. Don’t waste your money or risk your life…Australia’s borders are stronger than ever. We have increased our aerial surveillance and we have deployed more ships to ensure that future people-smuggling boats will be intercepted. Let me be clear. Australia’s border protection policies have not changed. Permanent settlement in Australia will never be an option if you try to come illegally by boat.”
Last year, Australia announced new citizenship requirements including advanced English language skills, evidence of integration through employment, and longer residency.
In 2014, the Australian government implemented a policy that requires all migrants to pass and maintain a “character test” in order to remain in the country. Dutton has used this policy to expel thousands of people since 2014.
Despite his crackdown on immigration, Dutton agreed with Today host Ben Fordham when he described Australia’s migration system as “pretty generous.”
“Our country is built on migration,” said Dutton. “We’ve had wonderful people who have come to our country over a long period of time. We have a lot to protect. Lot of values that those migrants believe in strongly. Ultimately apart from our indigenous population all of us are from migrant stock. We want to make sure we get the best people into our country so we can protect our values.”