Thursday, February 02, 2017
Trump may not proceed with Obama refugee deal with Australia
The White House has backtracked on a promise to honour a refugee deal with Australia, saying President Donald Trump is still considering whether it will go ahead.
The clarification came soon after White House press secretary Sean Spicer said the deal was going ahead provided the refugees were subjected to "extreme vetting" procedures.
In a follow-up phone call to the ABC, a White House source said if the President does decide to honour the deal, it will only be because of America's "longstanding relationship with Australia".
Earlier Mr Spicer said the deal, struck between the Obama administration and Turnbull Government, would include approximately 1,250 refugees, many from countries covered by the new administration's bans on entry to residents from seven majority Muslim nations.
"There will be extreme vetting applied to all of them," he said.
"That is part and parcel of the deal that was made, and it was made by the Obama administration with the full backing of the United States Government."
According to the latest statistics from the Immigration Department, there are 871 people on Manus Island and 383 people on Nauru.
The ABC understands most of the refugees are from Iran, with some also from Iraq and Somalia, three of the countries on the Trump administration's travel ban list.
At a briefing earlier, US Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said "we are looking at various options right now" with regard to "extreme vetting".
"There are many countries — seven that we are dealing with right now — that in our view don't have the kind of law enforcement, records keeping that can convince us that one of their citizens is indeed who that citizen says they are and what their background might be," he said.
"So we are developing what additional vetting, extreme vetting might look like, and we will certainly work with countries on this."
On Saturday the President put a four-month hold on allowing refugees into the US and temporarily barred travellers with passports from seven Muslim-dominated countries.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull spoke with Mr Trump by phone on Sunday, during which time it is understood the President agreed to honour the deal.
Before the call, Mr Turnbull said there was a section in Mr Trump's executive order which stated officials could still admit refugees under pre-existing international agreements.
The ABC understands that section was included in the final version of the executive order after the Prime Minister's office intervened.
"We are very confident and satisfied that existing arrangements will continue," Mr Turnbull said before the call.
"It's quite clear that the administration has set out in the order the ability to deal with existing arrangements."
Last week senior Australian Government sources said they were confident the orders would not impact the deal to resettle refugees currently on Manus Island and Nauru, entered into late last year with former president Barack Obama.
Authorities had hoped to begin moving people to the US at the start of this year.
In crackdown on illegal immigration, Australia has led the world
The writer below seems to think that is a bad thing but makes no mention of the arguments against illegal immigration -- such as the high rate of welfare dependency among the groups principally concerned
Many have expressed opposition and abhorrence towards US President Donald Trump’s plan to deport undocumented migrants en masse from the United States.
Last Wednesday, Trump signed executive orders vowing to deport or incarcerate an estimated 2-3 million non-citizens who have been charged with or convicted of a crime; who have “abused” public welfare programs; and who, in the opinion of an immigration officer, “pose a risk to public safety or national security”.
A further executive order instructed the US Department of Homeland Security to publish a “weekly list” of crimes committed by undocumented migrants. When signing the order, the president – performing a kind of dark political pageant – recited names of Americans allegedly murdered by undocumented migrants.
Before Trump, the Obama administration deported more than 2.5 million immigrants from the time he took office until 2015, more than any other US president. Two-thirds of deportees had committed only minor infractions, such as driving without a license or jumping a turnstile. Others had no criminal record at all. In the same period, detention of non-citizens increased by 25%.
Trump’s executive orders may take racialised border control, Islamophobia and aggressive deportation of non-citizens to new extremes. But in the last two decades, successive Australian governments have paved the way in showing there is no rock bottom when it comes to strict treatment of refugees and non-citizens.
On Monday, former Australian immigration minister, Scott Morrison, boasted that “the world is catching up to Australia” by implementing harsh border protection policies. The executive in Australia can already deport adult non-citizens found guilty or suspected of criminal offences. These powers apply to all non-citizens, including people who have lived in Australia for most of their lives or whose immediate family are Australian citizens.
The Turnbull government has repeatedly trumpeted its offshore detention centres, where asylum seekers are held in conditions that have been described by the UN as amounting to torture, as the prototype for tough border control. Indeed, this week Turnbull “welcomed” the US to “emulate” Australia’s approach.
US and Australian border control policies comprise part of what US law professor Juliet Stumpf has called the “crimmigration crisis”: a trend of migration law – with its largely unfettered and unscrutinised executive powers – encroaching on the distinct regime of the criminal law, and vice versa.
A symptom of this crimmigration crisis is that immigration officials increasingly adopt a “law and order” approach to migration control. Police resources are diverted away from prosecuting criminal offences and towards policing “irregular” or “undocumented” migrants. Non-citizens live in a perpetual state of anxiety, fearful that their interactions with police, state welfare agencies, their employers or their neighbours, might result in an allegation that could lead to their removal. Penalties imposed on non-citizens are often cruelly disproportionate to their alleged transgressions.
The Australian government has expanded its visa cancellation powers against non-citizens for criminal or “anti-social” conduct across three key areas.
The first is on “character grounds”. The immigration minister may cancel a visa if s/he reasonably suspects a non-citizen does not pass the character test. Changes introduced under former prime minister Tony Abbott in 2014 significantly expanded these powers.
Before 2014, two consecutive years of imprisonment were required as grounds for visa cancellation. Now, a person may not pass the character test if they are serving a sentence of 12 months’ imprisonment; if the minister reasonably suspects the person is “associated” with someone involved in criminal conduct ; if the minister foresees a risk that they may engage in criminal conduct; or if the person harasses, molests, intimidates or stalks someone in Australia.
Between 2013–14 and 2015–16, the number of visa cancellations on character grounds increased tenfold. In 2015-16, the immigration minister Peter Dutton cancelled 983 visas on character grounds.
The Australian government has signalled its intention to expand these already-broad powers. This year, Dutton announced that a parliamentary committee was looking at lowering the age for visa cancellation on character grounds to include children of 16 or 17 years. This would allow the commonwealth to further encroach on “law and order” issues including Victoria’s Apex gang-related problems. Such criminal justice issues are ordinarily within the purview of state and territory governments.
The second category of visa cancellation exists for actual or suspected criminals. The minister may cancel the bridging visas of people who have committed or are suspected of committing a crime. Between 29 June 2013 and 9 October 2016, the minister used these powers to cancel 322 bridging visas of so-called “illegal maritime arrivals”.
These migration law powers reverse the fundamental presumption of innocence under Australian common law. An asylum seeker charged with, but not convicted of, a crime may have just 10 minutes to make their case against visa cancellation.
At the close of 2016, the Commonwealth Ombudsman released two reports expressing serious concerns about the exercise and scope of the minister’s immigration powers. The Ombudsman found that people whose visas had been cancelled faced “unnecessarily prolonged and potentially indefinite periods of immigration detention”. This is due to the combination of delays in the resolution of criminal charges and a neglectful, under-resourced immigration case management system.
One of the government’s unprecedented initiatives was when in 2013, it introduced a code of behaviour for asylum seekers living in the community. This code, which all bridging visa holders over 18 must sign, forbids asylum seekers from engaging in “antisocial” or “disruptive” activities including spitting, swearing, bullying, being “disrespectful” or “inconsiderate”. It demands that asylum seekers respect “Australian values” and cooperate with government authorities. If accused of a breach, an asylum seeker (not the minister) must prove s/he did not engage in the alleged behaviour.
Consequences of breaching the code are severe. They include being sent to an onshore or offshore detention centre (such as Nauru or Manus Island); reduced (already meagre) income support payments; and separation of the family unit.
In recent protests against the “Muslim ban” in New York, demonstrators shouted “let them stay” outside the courthouse that placed a temporary stay on the ban. This demand is all-too familiar to Australians who oppose the government’s treatment of asylum seekers.
Trump’s executive orders against non-citizens constitute crimmigration in action. Rather than sigh with relief in the knowledge that we are not living in Trump’s America, Australians should recognise how his policies are founded and reflected in our own
Jobless rate among Middle Eastern migrants doubles
High rate of parasitism
MIDDLE Eastern migrants are piling on to the dole queue — with a 33 per cent jobless rate during their first five years in Australia.
The Daily Telegraph can reveal the unemployment rate among recent immigrants from the Middle East has doubled in a decade, with one-in-three out of work.
Migrants from the Middle East and North Africa are also three times more likely than European or Asian immigrants to be out of work in the first five years of settlement. And their 33 per cent jobless rate is six times higher than the national average.
The latest Australian Bureau of Statistics data reveals Middle Eastern migrants are having more trouble finding jobs than other immigrants.
Asian and European immigrants have an even lower jobless rate than Australian-born workers, after living here five to nine years.
But among Middle Eastern jobseekers, the unemployment rate is an alarming 17.5 per cent.
This compares to 3.6 per cent for southeast Asian migrants, and 1.9 per cent for those from southern and eastern Europe.
Australian National University economist Bob Gregory said most Middle Eastern migrants were refugees, and English language skills were “crucial’’ to finding work. “Refugees have very high unemployment and this lasts for a very long time,’’ Emeritus Professor Gregory said.
“Asian migrants are nearly all tertiary graduates and study here — this makes job finding easier.’’
Australia granted 15,552 humanitarian visas during 2015/16, with most given to refugees from Iraq, Syria, Myanmar and Afghanistan.
The number of Iraqi-born migrants living in Australia has grown by 38 per cent in the last decade, to more than 63,000. And the number of Syrian settlers is set to double after the federal government promised to take 12,000 as refugees.
The Department of Social Services said newly settled refugees “often undergo a period of adjustment and require training, such as English language tuition, before seeking employment’’.
“Refugees can make significant economic contributions to Australia by helping to fill labour shortages,’’ a spokesman said.
“Like any other significant number of new migrants, they bring a range of skills, knowledge, and innovative work and business practices’’.
The spokesman said refugees did not have to wait two years for welfare payments, like other migrants.
Refugees receive up to 510 hours of free English language tuition and the federal government is spending $22 million on training and support for young jobseekers on humanitarian visas.
University of Newcastle Emeritus Professor Terry Lovat, who studied the job outcomes of Islamic workers for the Immigration Department, called for “blind resumes’’ to stop employers discriminating on grounds of names or photos.
“The name ‘Mohammad’ could put people off and women have an issue if they wear the hijab,” he said. “That becomes more of an issue if (job applications) include a photo.”
Former Melbourne detective lifts lid on culture of fear inside Victoria Police
A FORMER senior police officer believes a culture of fear within the force is creating "horrible and tragic" outcomes because officers only act "when their hand is forced".
The former cop, who served for 20 years in Victoria Police, said he didn't blame frontline police for not taking action in some circumstances because they were lashed by the public when things went wrong.
Police tactics - in particular around the pursuit of vehicles - has been hotly debated since Dimitrious `Jimmy' Gargasoulas, 26, allegedly killed five people on January 20 by running them down in a car in Melbourne's CBD. Police had been trying to capture him for 16 hours before the deaths in Bourke St Mall.
Much of the dismay has been directed at why the accused driver wasn't boxed in or forced from the road before he arrived in the city centre. The police union has claimed senior officers twice refused permission to ram Gargasoulas.
"The police are not really to blame for their failure to take action. It is the hierarchy and community that has created a police force that is afraid of negative consequences and punishment if they make the wrong call - so situations are allowed to escalate to a point where their hand is forced, so to speak," the former cop said.
He drew parallels with the hostage crisis in Sydney's Martin Place in December 2014.
"A similar case was the Lindt cafe in Sydney where once again the police took no action until a hostage had been shot," he said. "You only have to look at what is said about police every time there is a shooting."
The officer, who asked not to be identified, told news.com.au the "horrible and tragic outcomes" happened because "our police" were too afraid to take action.
"There needs to be greater community discussion about what we expect from our police. Night courts have been tried before and didn't help, we have police in armoured trucks and dressed like soldiers already and that cannot be the answer if the police feel powerless to act until a person has died."
The former Melbourne detective said risk aversion was nothing new and really began to creep in during the 1990s when Project Beacon was introduced. The aim of Project Beacon was to retrain all Victoria Police officers in alternatives to firing their guns, where protection of human life was the number one priority. It was brought about because of a rising number of fatal police shootings.
Under the "Safety First Philosophy" the success of an operation was primarily judged on the extent to which the use of force is avoided or minimised, according to a report by the Victorian police watchdog the Office of Public Integrity.
"It really started way back then. In response to the outcry over the police shootings, frontline police were trained to stand back and wait... basically do nothing until reinforcements and specially trained police arrived. That culture against risk really started more than 20 years ago and is ingrained throughout the force.
"It's very difficult on frontline police who see what needs to be done but are stopped from doing so in case all the armchair experts whack them for making the wrong call."
Deputy Victoria Police Commissioner Andrew Crisp told media on Wednesday there had to be a balance between protecting the community and its members and officers would not pursue offenders driving on the wrong side of the road or at high speed.
He said real-life pursuits are not like they are in the movie Lethal Weapon where, when cars are shot at, the driver dies and the car stops immediately.
"It's extremely difficult to shoot at a moving vehicle. It's even more difficult to hit a tyre ... the vehicle will not stop, it will travel forward," he told reporters.
"There's every likelihood we might miss the vehicle and who knows where that round or those rounds might go."
He denied Victoria Police was soft on crime. "We are not a risk averse organisation. We attend critical incidents day in and day out and we resolve those incidents. If you want to talk about being risk averse then I will talk about safety, and it is critical our members go home every day."
He was "extremely disappointed" an email he sent to members last September was reported this week in the media as a "directive". In fact, he said, it was a "safety message" following an increase in offenders ramming police vehicles.
The email told officers not to shoot at or intercept stolen or suspect cars. "Plan your approach and response when intercepting a stolen or suspect vehicle - time is on your side," the email read, as published by the Herald Sun on Wednesday.
Victoria's police union said there is "burning anger" among officers in the wake of the Bourke Street rampage over policies they believe prevent them from intercepting "drug-crazed lunatics".
"Our members' views around the current pursuit policy range from great disappointment to burning anger," Police Association of Victoria assistant secretary Bruce McKenzie said.
"The current pursuit policy handcuffs them considerably when it ought to be our members who are handcuffing the drug-crazed lunatics that seem to be appearing on our streets."
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