Monday, July 12, 2010

Immigration and asylum seekers in Australia: links

"Now there was a famine in the land. So Abram went down to Egypt to reside there as an alien, for the famine was severe in the land." - Genesis 12.10.
The topics of immigration and the treatment of asylum seekers seem to be gathering some attention in Australia at the moment. Here are three pieces I've come across worth pondering. First, a SMH article with some relevant statistics. Second, another SMH article listing various historical people smugglers whom we admire and appreciate (this doesn't mean that they are all like that, it is simply making a negative case that universal condemnation of people smuggling is too simplistic). And finally, for those who prefer to gain their commentary through humour, Clarke and Dawe bring some perspective to the discussion (H/T Nigel).

I expect that the next few decades will see significant increases in the number of ecological, economic and conflict refugees around the world. Australia will not be exempt.
"You shall not wrong or oppress a resident alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt." - Exodus 22.21.


byron smith said...

For those looking for a little more depth on the issue of immigration and integration, Rowan Williams' recent lecture (published on the new ABC religion and ethics portal) might be worth a look. Here is a taste:

"And this is perhaps the moment to note that the vocal anxieties we hear from some quarters about the survival of "British identity" in the face of migrants and refugees betrays a lack of proper confidence in the capacity and the commitment of our society both to learn and to teach. It suggests a confusion about what matters to us and why. In fact, it illustrates dramatically why we always need to be alert to argument, because we need to learn how to articulate why we are as we are, and why this or that element of our culture can or should be defended. The presence of the 'stranger' is a gift rather than a threat in this context because the stranger helps us see who we are - hopefully, not as an 'us' over against a 'them', but as an 'us' always in process of formation.

"If I may be allowed another bit of theology, one of the mainsprings of Christian self-understanding in the formative years of the Church's life was the idea that the believer was essentially a 'migrant', someone who was in any and every situation poised between being at home and being a stranger. In the New Testament and a good deal of the literature that survives from the first couple of Christian centuries, one of the commonest self-descriptions of the Church is in the language that would have been used in the Mediterranean cities for a community of migrant workers, temporary residents.

"As a 'resident alien' in whatever society he or she inhabited, the believer would be involved in discovering what in that society could be endorsed and celebrated and what should be challenged. The Christian, you could say, was present precisely as someone who was under an obligation to extend or enrich the argument - sometimes indeed to initiate the argument about lasting social goods in settings where there was previously no possibility of thinking about what made a social order good or just or legitimate."