Oct 18 2009
Were the fellows caught off the waters of Vancouver Island trying to sneak into Canada really refugees? It’s not looking that way so far. If they’re not, they ought to be sent back, and fast — or we’re going to be promoting even more queue-jumping ahead of the refugees who are truly in need of a safe harbor.
First of all, if the first reports that these men are from Sri Lanka are to be believed, then they are part of the mass migration of Sri Lankans leaving their country to avoid “the aftermath of a bloody civil war”. But with the war over, and no reports of violent reprisals from either the government or now-defunct Tamil Tigers, the threat of violence is really hypothetical — as opposed to the actual rampant violence faced by nationals in Afghanistan, Iraq, Myanmar, Mexico, Sudan, Somalia… well you get the idea.
Some might bring up the horrible conditions of those Sri Lankans stuck in the refugee camps in the newly captured northern territory of their island. Undoubtedly, those people in the camps should be given help and resettled… in their homes, in Sri Lanka. But it’s beside the point anyway, since the men taken off the boat are clearly not stuck in tents eating gruel on the other side of the world. Instead, they’ll be housed here on the taxpayers’ dime until we make a decision about what to do with them.
When we typically think of refugees, we typically picture them as desperate people seeking a better life free of bullets, starvation and red-hot pokers. You would expect such people to first seek the geographically closest nation that could take them in. The Sri Lankan asylum seekers landing in Australia and Indonesia seem to fit that bill better than all the way across the Indian and Pacific Oceans to our neck of the woods (and India’s coast is practically a swim from Sri Lankan territory). So why did they come out all this way?
Longtime support of the Tamil community from Canada (even when a lot of the dollars that got sent appeared to end up in the hands of terrorists) may have something to do with it. A reputation for having a broken immigration system is another. Sri Lankans aren’t coming here because they fear bullets in the back of their heads — they’re coming here because Canada is a rich country, and they want the opportunities for themselves and their families that they just can’t get in their own country. These are laudable reasons for coming here and Canada absolutely needs enterprising individuals to come and work, build businesses and contribute to our communities — but if that’s what they want, they should arrive after fulfilling immigration requirements, not as fake refugees.
If these boat people are the real deal, in immediate danger from war or political violence, then they ought to be let in as refugees. If not, we should deport them. We can and should let refugees into our country to live lives in peace and freedom — the real refugees, that is.