I have tried to keep a fairly broad point of view for the political and social commentary that I post here. However, on the issue of boat people and so-called illegal immigration, I feel compelled to share a personal story.
My wife is American. She is currently in the US and we are going through the visa application process. It will take up to six months or more before we get an answer on that. If you think it’s hard being away from each other for so long, you’re damn right. Thank God for the internet!
There were a number of ways we could have gone about it. She could have come in on a tourist visa and then gotten a bridging visa while we applied for the partner visa here. That would have been perfectly legal, but we felt it would be dishonest for her to enter the country on a tourist visa when we both know we have every intention of her staying for good if at all possible. So instead, we did what we felt was right by having her apply for a partner visa while in her home country.
Let me be clear on one thing: we would dearly love to cut the process short. We wish we could just fast-forward to when it’s all been done. But do you know one option we never considered? We never considered having L make her way to Asia, get onto a rickety boat and risk her life bobbing along the Indian ocean for a couple of months in the hope that she might wash up on the coast of Western Australia. Not once did we look at all the ‘queue-jumpers’ and think, “Hey, why don’t we try that?”
So to suggest that anyone would try that – with or without people-smugglers – if they weren’t desperate and had better options, really defies all logic.
I don’t know of anyone whose life has been adversely affected by boat arrivals, but perhaps that says more about the circles I move in, so if you do, please educate me. Obviously we can’t have a complete open-door policy or it will become an opportunity for real queue-jumpers, but the debate as it is framed right now is bullshit.
Both parties have scrambled to appeal to people’s lowest instincts and are proposing cuts in immigration. I’ll tell you this much: if this beat-up of an issue makes things any harder than they already are for my wife and me, then I’m going to blame a few people, and I don’t mean the ones on the boats.