The Australian government is set to introduce legislation that will set a lifetime ban on refugees trying to enter the country by boat.
Australia has some of the strictest immigration laws in the world. People who enter the country without a visa are placed in off-shore detention centers indefinitely. The country has been widely criticized for the policy and moved to close one of its largest detention camps in Papua New Guinea in August.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his government want to deter refugees from even trying. By setting a lifetime ban on this form of illegal immigration, the government is sending a message to people smugglers that “Australia is not an option for you.”
“This will send the strongest possible signal to the people smugglers,” Turnbull told reporters Sunday in Sydney. “They must know that the door to Australia is closed to those who seek to come here by boat with a people smuggler. It is closed.”
Refugees will not be able to return under any circumstances, not even on a tourist visa or as a spouse of an Australian citizen. The ban will work retroactively and affect all cases after July 19, 2013.
Immigration and Border Protection Minister Peter Dutton said the law will not change the outlook for refugees significantly, as the ones who are already in detention centers “are living in false hope.”
“There are still people, advocates in Australia and elsewhere, who are messaging to people on Nauru and Manaus that at some stage you are coming to Australia,” Dutton said. “Those people are living in false hope and it cannot continue.”
The government will introduce the proposal this week as an amendment to the 1958 Migration Act.