Appearing to take a page from Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who suggested that in the wake of the Muslim terrorist attacks in Paris and Sacramento CA that the U.S. should consider limiting the number of immigrants admitted to the country, Australia is on its way to a more serious vetting of Syrian refugees than that is now being used by Europe. Australia, according to leaked official documents, seeks to minimize "extremist infiltration" to a country that covers and entire continent.
According to the leaked draft, Syrian refugees are identified as especially notable for religious and political beliefs, as well as associations, that may induce violent activity in Australia. The document offered monitoring measures even once the refugees are granted Australian citizenship. The document was supposedly prepared by the office of Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton. It stated that the Lebanese Sunni Muslims already living in Australia as posing "potential community safety and national security risks associated with unsuccessful immigration."
The document has especial relevance since Australia is a member state in the alliance, led by the United States, which is fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Australia is on heightened alert for domestic terrorists because the Islamic State and related Muslim terrorist groups have vowed to wreak vengeance for the allied bombing campaign and special operations in the theater of operations.
Australia is part of the United States-led bombing campaign against the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria and is on heightened alert for attacks by home-grown radicals. Its tough asylum seeker policy, which includes mandatory detention for people arriving by boat, is a hot-button political issue.
Among the recommendations in the seven-page document, according to Dutton:
"To mitigate risks and build public confidence, I (Minister for Immigration and Border Protection) will be bringing forward a package of reforms to simplify Australia's visa framework and create stronger controls over access to permanent residency and citizenship."
"This new framework will introduce additional decision points along the immigration continuum including ... enhanced access, use and protection of sensitive information to strengthen intelligence-led, risk based decision making ... from pre-visa stage to post-citizenship conferral."
A spokesperson for Dutton was dismissive of the import of the document and claimed that the minister had not seen it.
Australia already has a strict policy concerning refugees. For example, any arriving by boat are subjected to immediate detention. However, Australia agreed to accept 12,000 refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria, just as hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers flooded Europe amidst. Germany, for example, has accepted more than 1 million.
The issue of refugees is a political football in the country Down Under. Paul Power, who leads the Refugee Council of Australia, released a statement saying that the leaked proposals are “self-defeating” and would lead to “greater marginalisation and disaffection among new arrivals."
Currently about half a million of Australia's 23.5 million people are Muslims. About half of these live in the western suburbs of Sydney that were once white working-class enclaves. They are now Muslim-majority enclaves. A spokesman for the Lebanese Muslim Association predicted a “frenzy” in his community should the leaked document’s recommendations be put into practice.
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