I remember standing on the tarmac waiting to board an aeroplane to Guatemala, then to Los Angeles and then to Melbourne. I remember that it felt like an adventure. I don’t know if my parents felt the same. The first ever aeroplane I boarded was a Pan Am Boeing. I remember seeing the tarmac disappear and that incredible feeling of gravity being defeated. It wasn’t until many, many years later that I learned I left El Salvador as an immigrant and entered Australia as a refugee.
I’m hesitant to call myself a refugee success story. Can the success of refugees be measured? When can you say you have crossed the threshold from seeking refuge to success? I ‘m well educated, I’ve had good jobs, I consume with the best of them; I’m law abiding, married, comfortable and happy; in fact I’m probably as Australian as pavlova claims to be.
Immigration is a hot topic now, we talk about legitimate migrants and illegitimate migrants, about people processed in a queue, while others jump it. How big should Australia be? How big can Australia be?
Australia has a very complex, convoluted and shameful history with regards to migrants, the current conversation is only how that complex history is manifesting itself right now. The problem with the discussion today is that it is being driven by fear, secrecy and misinformation.
As a migrant nation we can’t rely on a government with an agenda to give us a comprehensive understanding of our immigration laws and how we got to today’s mess. I’m not trying to get you to change your point of view, whatever it is, what I am trying to do is make your point of view more informed.