While adherence to prevailing notions of political correctness has generated strong pressure for acceptance of large scale immigration for perceived humanitarian reasons, consideration of outcomes has been accorded little attention. The current source for mass asylum seeking is coming almost entirely from the Muslim nations of North Africa and the Middle East. Without exception the governments of these nations are characterised by high levels of repression, corruption and incompetence. Economic stagnation is pervasive, relieved only by lavish non-productive spending where oil wealth is available.
Rarely do any of these governments change peacefully through an open fair election. Coups, revolutions or the death of a leader is the norm for any change in regime. Often this is then accompanied by a period of civil violence, commonly reaching extreme levels until some faction prevails, only to re-establish similar, or even worse, levels of repression, corruption and incompetence. That this pattern is so widespread, pervasive and persistent in these nations makes it unlikely to be only a matter of random mischance. It is difficult to avoid considering that it must arise from some common, underlying propensities which manifest as ongoing high levels of intolerance, repression, corruption, intractable factionalism, extreme violence and fanatical commitment to differing fundamentalist religious interpretations.
High levels of such immigrants present a significant problem in bringing with them these propensities. This risk must then be compounded if the same tendencies also serve to strongly inhibit assimilation into the host culture and increase still further if poor assimilation leads to concentration in ghettos where the social malaise which drove the emigration continues to be propagated. Meanwhile the dysfunction in the source nations continues apace with no sign of improvement and any facilitation of immigration elsewhere is likely to only encourage an even greater wave of refugees.
Continuation of cultural practices which clearly violate the laws of the host country are already common, and demands for legal recognition of sharia law are beginning to be made. In a democratic system, where a voting bloc of 10% of an electorate can determine the outcome of elections, it is only a matter of time before demands for such recognition start to be granted on some level and then, inevitably, expanded. The question of whether accepting large numbers of such refugees alleviates human suffering or spreads it deserves careful consideration.
Although our own governments like to pay lip service to evidence-based policy, they tend to do little to develop or assess such evidence. In Australia we already have a well-established and mostly capable government body which could readily produce the evidence needed in this regard. This is the Australian Bureau of Statistics, and all government need do is request it be done.
Existing immigration statistics are largely restricted to overall numbers for different regions and a limited amount of data on the composition of immigrant families. For a genuine evidence-based policy on immigration and refugees much more information about the detailed demographics of asylum seekers and other immigrants is essential. A much clearer picture is needed of who they are, where they come from, how and why they come, what they bring in the way of skills, where they settle, their employment, education, health and welfare requirements, crime statistics, connections with militant fundamentalism and terrorism, as well as the general nature of their assimilation or lack thereof.
It would not be difficult for parliament to establish a bipartisan committee to determine the type of information to request and to liaise with the ABS to develop it. Genuine, evidence-based policy could then be possible. Continuing to bumble around in regard to immigration and asylum with little knowledge of what we are actually doing or what the results are until they become obviously manifest and too late to avoid would be a travesty.
The UN Refugee Agency reports there are some 65 million displaced persons globally, of which 39% are in the Middle East and North Africa. Some 54% of the global total comes from just three countries — Somalia, Syria and Afghanistan. It is obvious that without a huge increase in numbers, acceptance of asylum seekers in developed countries can do little to alleviate the massive problem; moreover, it is not at all apparent that the asylum seekers are very pleased with their host countries or have any desire to assimilate with their hosts’ culture. On the contrary, there seems to be a growing hatred of their hosts by at least some of them, a loathing that is manifesting in acts of horrendous violence. Even if such extremism only comes from a very small minority of refugees, it cannot negate the fact they are drawn from a particular group and that more will arrive unless such individuals can be better identified and screened out.
Regardless of how one feels about this issue much better information on immigrant success is badly needed. Naively accepting large numbers of refugees from the most dysfunctional societies on the planet with scant assessment of the results being achieved would seem almost beyond belief if it were not fact. At best they must almost certainly add to an already problematic welfare burden. However, if many of these refugees also despise us, detest our culture, have no intention of assimilating and fervently wish to make their new home much more like the one from which they fled, we would seem to be creating a major problem for ourselves by bringing them in.
If the evidence were to indicate no significant difference in the success of immigrants from various sources, then we can comfortably cease any concern in this regard. However, in the likely event that significant differences are found, it must surely be sensible to give priority to those likely to be most successful in adapting to our society and leave those likely to be unhappy here to find asylum in other cultures more to their own liking.
In any event, whatever alleviation of suffering which might be achieved by accepting refugees can only be trivial in relation to the overall global magnitude of the problem. Meanwhile, demographics, oil industry economics and resource depletion are set to exacerbate the already abysmal problems inflicting the source nations. The only real hope for a solution is at the source and it is there that any effective effort must be focused.
For a host nation to naively infect itself with a metastasising societal malignancy through mindless adherence to ill-conceived notions of political correctness affords an excellent prospect for a Darwin Award on a national level. If ever there has been the need for the precautionary approach this must surely be it.