Myths and Truths about Asylum Seekers

Myths and Truths about Asylum Seekers

Refugee Week 2022 is from Sunday 19 June – Saturday 25 June, 2022. The theme for Refugee Week is Healing. In this article, we address the many assumptions about Asylum Seekers and the rights of Asylum Seekers.

1. Asylum seekers arriving by hoat are illegal.
It is legal to seek asylum, anywhere in the world, including Australia, even without a visa. In fact, to seek asylum is a legal right under Australian and international law. Furthermore, it is actually illegal for the Australian government to punish boat people/ asylum seekers for simply arriving in the country.

2. Asylum seekers are just coming here to find a better job.
Nearly all of the people that arrive by boat are found to be refugees escaping persecution in their country of origin. lt is internationally agreed that a person does not have to be poor in order to be considered a refugee.

3. If asylum seekers want protection, they can just stay in Malaysia or Indonesia.
Unlike Australia, other countries do not protect refugees the same way Australia does, being in a second country can sometimes be almost as bad as the country they have left.

4. Asylum seekers only come to Australia because we have soft harder laws.
The Australian border protection laws are actually some of the toughest in the world. Besides which, if people are escaping torture and murder, there is no law the Australian government could introduce that would make returning home seem like the better option.

5. If asylum seekers can pay money to get here then they are not really asylum seekers.
It costs anywhere between $5,000 and $20,000 to come by boat to Australia. This does not necessarily mean asylum seekers are wealthy. They may have sold everything they own or borrowed from family and friends in order to find the money.

6. If we let asylum seekers in, we are just supporting the people smugglers.
People smugglers are breaking the law, not the asylum seekers who pay them. Punishing the asylum seekers will not stop people smugglers because the people smugglers don’t care about the people they bring by boats.

7. There are a lot of poor and homeless people in flustralia, they should he helped first.
Offshore processing and detention costs billions of dollars. One alternative would be if asylum seekers were integrated into the community while they wait for their claims to be processed. In that case those billions could be spent on other people.

8. Asylum seekers should just get help from the UN in their home country.
This is very difficult, sometimes impossible. It can be more dangerous to get to a UN office than leaving the country itself. If a country does have a UN office it can be hard to get to and there is often not much the UN can do to protect them.

9. Asylum seekers destroy their passports and other documents to guarantee they are accepted.
When fleeing horrible situations, people do not always think to get their documents first. People can lose their documents over the large distances travelled or people smugglers and other criminals sometimes steal people’s documents. A person without documents still has the right to claim asylum.

10. Boat people are terrorists and criminals.

Every asylum seeker must pass a criminal history test, anyone found to be a criminal is immediately sent home. No asylum seeker has been found to be part of a terrorist organisation.

11. Asylum seekers are jumping the queue.

When an asylum seeker is granted asylum, that place is taken from the numbers Australia takes from refugee camps around the world. Therefore, they are not taking the place of a genuine immigrant.

12. Asylum seekers should go through legal means.

The Australian embassies in the main countries where Australia receives asylum seekers, such as Iraq and Afghanistan, do not issue Australian visas. Refugees have to travel to the country where the Australian embassy will issue them a visa. This travel may be just as dangerous, if not more so, than coming to Australia in the first place.

13. Australia is being taken over by boat people.

Not true: boats are turned around, on the high seas. This is the position of Australia. Those who arrive by boat have to endure offshore processing.

14. Muslim asylum seekers want to change the Australian way of life.

Only 57 per cent of asylum seekers are Muslims, coming from countries with Sharia Law. 1.4 per cent of all immigration — remember that as refugees, these people are fleeing their countries and Sharia Law.


African refugees
African refugees standing on the line before the deportation to Holot detention centre.

Image Credits: Flickr/John Englart , Wikimedia Commons/Rudychaimg