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Confusion about asylum seekers

Letter to the Editor – The Courier Mail
4 February 2012

(under consideration)

Dear Sir/Madam,

Des Houghton (Truth adrift in stormy seas 4/2/12) has made a mess in assessing fact and figures in his exploration into the vexed issue of asylum seekers.

The idea that 'those (refugees) allowed to stay are unemployable for long periods, possibly for life' is a myth. Independent research by Adelaide University last year concluded that being part of the labour market 'is one of the most visible and important contributions that refugees and humanitarian entrants make to Australia'.

Mr Houghton also concludes 'boat people have found to be rapists, thieves and drug pushers'. Since when? In the absence of any evidence from Houghton, we must seriously challenge the claim.

He also says 'at least one detainee was on a heroin treatment program…other detainees were treated for other drug addictions', conflating asylum seekers with immigration detainees generally.  No asylum seeker has been treated for heroin addiction and none has arrived with a drug addiction requiring treatment.

And what of this appalling conclusion: '…ASIO security assessments had led to the deportation of 344 boat people' to, among other countries, Britain?  Sorry Mr Houghton, our records do not show any recent boat arrivals claiming asylum from Britain.

Many of the examples used in this error-ridden article appear to apply to other people held in immigration detention centres, such as convicted foreign criminals, who have had their visas cancelled on character grounds. These people are not asylum seekers.

If it was not so sad, it would be laughable that this column is titled Insight.

Yours sincerely,

Sandi Logan
National Communications Manager
Department of Immigration and Citizenship

Last reviewed Wednesday 27 August 2014