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Culture War Roundup for the week of July 10, 2023

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Open borders is an extreme and unworkable solution, but large scale, orderly immigration is both workable and popular over a long term basis.When your society's experience of immigration is law abiding, productive citizens, people tend to like immigration.

30% of Australia's population are first generation immigrants. 48% have at least one parent born overseas. It is no coincidence that we have very harsh policies towards illegal immigrants - those strong border protection policies underpin the public support for our large scale immigration program. People notice when the immigrants are making society worse, even if it's not polite to. They also notice when immigrants make society better.

I think being a relatively isolated island continent helps a lot with maintaining that policy. It's a lot harder to refuse someone when you have a land border and you can see the poor masses longing to get in, which is why most western nations have out of cowardice tried to outsource the job to Central American or Middle Eastern countries that have fewer qualms about kicking people out by force. It also seems to me that Australia has relatively few immigrants from populations that restrictionists like to complain about e.g. Hispanics, Arabs, Africans (black Africans to be precise, I know there's a lot of Afrikaners in Perth), so that may have something to do with its success as well.

I don’t think this is accurate. I recall Australia having a big rift over “boat migrants” from various SEA islands. No idea how these presumably biased numbers stack up to the other immigration processes. Some history. Judging by the Guardian thinkpieces I see, it’s still at least a little salient.

Even at the peak of illegal boat arrivals, asylum seekers were always a fairly small minority of immigrants. But it was indeed highly salient. How we handle illegal immigration was a major point of partisan conflict from at least 2001 (maybe earlier) to 2013, with the media loudly and clearly taking the left wing "humane" side of the issue.

It ended because the right decisively won the argument. First John Howard was successful in winning support for his position that "We will decide who comes to this country and the manner in which they come" - a message that mixed support for immigration with an orderly process. He implemented the "Pacific Solution" of offshore detention which stopped the boats but was routinely decried as cruel and inhumane by the left. Then, when his time in power eventually came to an end after 5 elections, Rudd finally gave the Labor faithful the kinder, softer approach they had long wanted.

And the boats came back. The kinder, softer approach led to years of people drowning on our shores as they tried to make the voyage from Indonesia in shitty fishing boats, the immigration system being overwhelmed as people showed up without visas or passports or any documentation at all, and policy paralysis as the Labor government found itself caught between its principles and beliefs on one side and harsh reality and public hostility on the other.

In 2013 Abbott swept to power in a landslide after relentlessly attacking Labor for its failures and promising unequivocally that he would stop the boats. We were treated to regular media pieces about how his plans were needlessly cruel, would provoke international incidents, and couldn't possibly work.

But... they worked. The boats stopped - much more quickly and decisively that even I as a strong borders believer had hoped possible. And the trauma of that period to the left was such that even now, with Labor back in power, they have decided it is better to just concede this issue entirely than risk allowing that same chaos and electoral punishment to happen again.