COVID-19 creates more Chinese asylum seekers in Australia

Asylum requests

The recent surge in Chinese asylum seekers arriving in Australia has raised concerns. There is also concern about the rise in racism in this context. It has started affecting Australia’s economy.

A 700% increase in asylum applications has happened since the introduction of online visa applications. Kristina Keneally is the shadow minister for immigration and citizenship. She recently spoke on this issue. She was speaking at the Law Council of Australia’s immigration law conference. She brought into notice that 7,304 Chinese nationals on tourist visas have claimed asylum. This has happened within a year of the government allowing the online application for visas.

The number is huge considering the count of asylum applications in March 2017. This was a year before the launch of the online application policy. Then, only 1,060 Chinese nationals had submitted asylum applications.

The result of the surge in asylum applications was the increase in backlogs. It also hit Australia’s migration system in terms of integrity. The overloading of migrants claiming asylum is today a menace to applicants and authorities.

Senator Kenneally also noted that more than 100,000 people who arrived in Australia by air claimed asylum. The concerning part is that 90% of those claims were illegitimate.

As per figures released in October last year, each day, nearly 80 people requested asylum after landing in an Australian airport. In this period, David Coleman, the then Immigration Minister, defended the immigration policy. He observed that the number of asylum requests by those reaching Australia by air had decreased by 12%. This was in comparison with the numbers from the same period in the previous year.

There is also a call for curbing the anti-Chinese sentiment created by the coronavirus outbreak. Kristina urged the Australian government to put more effort in this regard. She suggested taking inspiration from New Zealand. New Zealand Human Rights Commission had released a 2-step guide in the efforts to end racism based on the COVID-19 outbreak. It said “1. Sneeze into the crook of your elbow. 2. Don’t be racist and xenophobic.”

There is an increase in hostility and racist attacks on Chinese. It has affected the livelihoods of the Chinese community in Australia. It has thus damaged the Australian economy too.

In this context, Kristina announced that the Labor party will launch a petition in Chinatown. The petition will urge all Australians to stand against the ugly menace of racism.

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