Lost in the coverage of "Zero Tolerance" for asylum seekers in the U.S. is the fact that this has already played out on the other side of the globe in Australia since 2001. I wrote a thing for Baffler about the "Pacific Solution" and the disaster that holding a large population of semi-stateless people in legal limbo for years on end in outdoor tent camps inevitably becomes.

In an effort to make it a less depressing read I led with the tragi-comedy of Nauru, the tiny Pacific island nation that ended up so broke that it was induced to becoming an offshore detention center (prison camp, really) in exchange for boatloads of money from the Australian government. Nauru needed money and Australia had some people they wanted kept far out of sight and far away from prying eyes. Voila. Capitalism to the rescue.

Whether families are being separated or not is a sideshow to the growing population of people being detained indefinitely with unclear or nonexistent rights. Their numbers are growing exponentially under Trump and it won't be long before America is searching for its own Nauru where they can be boxed up and put out of sight.

20 thoughts on “THE LUCKY COUNTRY”

  • Bitter Scribe says:

    …it won't be long before America is searching for its own Nauru where they can be boxed up and put out of sight.

    I thought we had that already. It's called Guantanamo.

    That's just for "enemy combatants," you say? No problem. We've already classed asylum seekers and refugees as criminals; calling them enemy combatants is just the next logical step.

  • Back in the 60s I remember stories on the network news programs about the camps that held Palestinian refugees who couldn’t go back to their original homes in what became pre-1967 war Israel.

    I remember wondering why the many Arab countries wouldn’t take them in. After all Israel took in the Jews who were expelled from tha Arab countries after the 1948 war.

    That didn’t work out very well. And the current Australian, Trump and the boat people being turned away from Europe (if they manage to survive the voyage) will become a powder keg.

    Global warming is going to intensify the refugee problem with people fleeing drought and other people moving into their home area from areas that have become even worse.

  • Just a correction to the baffler story. Manus was not closed because Canberra gave up on the project but because the Papua New Guinea Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional.

  • “…people being detained indefinitely with unclear or nonexistent rights. “
    Call me Polly Anna but I am pretty sure I was taught in high school—in the 70s—that the Constitution applied to everyone in the US irrespective of whether or not they are citizens?

  • Australia is good example of how easy it is to torture asylum seekers when you ban an already compliant media from covering what's going on.
    The head of Home Affairs is cut from the same cloth as Stephen Miller.
    And the ruling conservatives have effectively wedged the opposition party with being 'soft on terror' if they propose an onshore solution.

  • Nah, we have lots of space, and lots of private prison companies available to house all these “criminals.” No need to offshore them. That would really be “foreigners taking ‘merican jobs.” Can’t have that.

  • Well crap, now that I’ve read the baffled article, I see that the point is offshoring keeps them out of sight, out of mind. It’s easier to keep protesters away when you put water between them and the camps. But I still contend there’s a lot of remote lower 48 to be found from Idaho/Montana down to Arizona/New Mexico. A bit easier to get to for protest, but not as easy to sustain the protests.

    Though I guess trump will continue with his half-assed bs backing-down-but-not-really-when-the-heat-is-turned-on modus operandi that we’ve witnessed a few times already. This is such an exhausting President. And now we can’t even rely on NK nukes to put us out of our misery.

  • Lots of possibilities in the midwest, big ag, AKA collectivization, American style, has destroyed lots of small towns, some of them so recently that the infrastructure still kinda' works. It's a solution that could work for the .01%, it's not like they know anyone there…

  • c u n d gulag says:

    I'm waiting for the conservatives to suggest Puerto Rico as a fine place to hold the people they consider undesireables (AKA: Deplorables.)

    Hell, I'm surprised the GOP hasn't passed legislation making Puerto Rico a "Free Labor Zone," where the detainees (prisoners) work on building beachfront condo's for tRUMP & ASSociates.
    All materials and any paying jobs will be paid for by American taxpayers!

  • A lot depends on whether you think a nation should be allowed to restrict who enters and stays. Australia had a big problem with refugees from Afghanistan entering via Indonesia. Almost all of them had found political asylum elsewhere, but felt that economic prospects in Australia were better. It's not easy getting from Afghanistan to Australia, especially in a small boat.

    A lot of people believe that there is a basic human right to live in any nation one chooses. It's in obvious conflict with a nation's right to put restrictions on who enters and who stays. We've been facing a wave of international disruption as the population continues to rise and the climate changes. Maintaining national borders is not quite as futile as King Canute's attempt to hold back the tide.

  • Never underestimate the drive and determination of our brothers and sister in 'The South'. I wouldn't put the municipalities of many economically depressed southern states, above clearing out vast "buffer/safety zones", and beating out these depressed offshore areas in the Economic Race To The Bottom, to snatch the coveted prize of warehousing the undesirables. Hell, the precedent is there with prisons, manufacturing, etc…

  • disarming the working class made australia such a peaceful place free of bigotry! hooray for liberal capitalism!

  • "the Papua New Guinea Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional"

    Educate stone age cannibal head hunters and THAT is their thanks!

    "Oh, look. A red herring."

    More like a sewer trout.

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