The decision by the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Scott Morrison, to cap the issue of permanent protection visas for refugees to 1650 would increase the cruelty of the Government’s refugee policy according to the Executive Officer of the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission of Brisbane, Peter Arndt.
Mr Arndt said that the measure, announced in the wake of the Senate vote to prevent the reintroduction of temporary protection visas, was unacceptable.
“People who we recognize as refugees because they faced persecution, torture and the threat of death would have been forced to live in a limbo of anxiety and uncertainty year after year if temporary protection visas were re-introduced,” Mr Arndt said.
“The Minister’s decision to cap permanent protection visas means that many people who have valid claims for protection will be subjected to the same uncertainty and anxiety by another means,” he said.
“Australia is in a position to be much more generous in resettling vulnerable people who deserve to live free from fear and violence,” he said.
“This is a mean-spirited and cruel stance from a country which is infinitely better off than the countries from which asylum seekers are fleeing,” he said.
“It is simply not fair to have thousands of people who have suffered so much in their homeland face years of further suffering here in Australia,” he said.
Mr Arndt called on Catholics to challenge the Federal Government’s cruel measures.
“Let us be signs of God’s lavish generosity and abundant mercy,” he said.
“Let’s demand just policies from a country which is so wealthy compared to the countries from which asylum seekers are fleeing,” he said.
“Let’s respond to Christ’s call for us to welcome the stranger,” he said.
“Let’s not pretend that we are doing the right thing by sending vulnerable people home to torture and harassment because there are other vulnerable people suffering in refugee camps elsewhere,” he said.
“Australia and the other wealthy nations of the world have a responsibility, in justice, to do much, much more for asylum seekers around the world, whether they are sitting in refugee camps for years or they risk dangerous journeys in boats to escape truly horrifying circumstances,” he said.
For further information, please contact Peter Arndt on (07) 3336 9173 or 0409 265 476.
NB This release is issued with the approval of the Commission or its Executive under the provision of its Mandate which enables it to speak in its own right. The views expressed in it do not necessarily represent the views of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane.