Securitising Asylum-Seekers in Australia and the US


Securitisation is the method by which one thing is reworked into an actual or imagined safety risk, needing an pressing coverage response. The securitisation of migration (the motion of individuals throughout borders for a mess of various causes) has been a subject of educational debate and political dialogue in recent times. The migrant class of asylum-seeker is price analyzing individually within the securitisation debate, as a result of particular set of challenges that migrants in search of safety pose, or are framed as posing, to the nation state.

In response to the Conference Regarding the Standing of Refugees (1951) and 1967 Protocol, a person might be recognised below worldwide legislation as a refugee after they set up a well-founded worry of persecution of their residence nation, based mostly on race, nationality, faith or membership of a selected social group (Adamson, 2006). These people qualify for the safety of one other state and there’s a particular algorithm below worldwide refugee legislation that dictate their rights. In response to Gibney (2014), there is a vital distinction between the time period refugee and asylum-seeker. He outlines two distinct teams of migrants that match neatly into the definition of refugees: people who want assist in fleeing to a secure nation due to hazard in their very own nation and people awaiting resettlement in a refugee camp. Nonetheless, asylum-seekers are people who arrive at a nationwide border claiming to want safety (Gibney, 2014). The necessary distinction right here is that by this conceptualisation, refugees have already been outlined as eligible for defense by the receiving state earlier than they arrive within the nation. Gibney (2014) places forth an fascinating argument, that though the declare for defense from persecution is similar for each refugees and asylum-seekers, asylum-seekers increase distinctive ethical and sensible points. The politics round asylum-seekers are dominated by the worry that people are exploiting the asylum system by falsely claiming to be a refugee, as a result of “to be an asylum-seeker a person merely has to declare to be a refugee” (Gibney, 2014, p. 10).

For the aim of this evaluation, asylum-seekers are people or teams of individuals which are claiming asylum based mostly on persecution however haven’t (but) been granted refugee safety by the host nation. Subsequently, they’re thought-about to have arrived, or intend to reach, in a rustic with the intent to, or are within the technique of, claiming asylum. This definition is necessary with a view to perceive the true or imagined risk to nationwide safety these people pose to the host nation. Is their so-called risk standing heightened as a result of they arrived with out pre-established permission, or refugee standing? Does this liminal state, of claiming asylum however not but having been granted it, make them a better goal for politicians who can leverage gradual and costly asylum procedures for political acquire? Given these questions, how have asylum-seekers come to be framed, and perceived, as a risk to nationwide safety, significantly within the two traditionally migrant-rich, but presently anti-migrant, nations of Australia and the USA?

The comparability between Australia and the USA of America, in relation to asylum-seekers, is fascinating for a mess of causes. Firstly, each nations have a historical past of mass former immigration. Each the US and Australia, as former colonies of Britain, are nations constructed from ‘settler’ societies, marginalising and inflicting the demise of nearly all of the previous indigenous inhabitants. Each states relied on immigration to spice up inhabitants numbers, in colonial Australia (Macintyre, 2009) and within the US (Steckel, 1989) all through the 1800s. Through the Menzies authorities (1949-1966), politicians and coverage makers believed Australia’s safety could possibly be elevated by a stronger economic system and growing inhabitants by immigration (McLean, 2001). This begs the query nonetheless of which migrants had been accepted and below which circumstances, which might be explored later.

Secondly, it seems that each nations have turn into more and more anti-immigration all through the late 20th Century and early 21st Century, with the present Liberal authorities in Australia below Prime Ministers Tony Abbott (2013-2015), Malcolm Turnbull (2015-2018) and Scott Morrison (2018-current), and with the present Republican presidency of Donald Trump. This additionally raises questions on how new these insurance policies are, and whether or not the conservative political rhetoric displays higher historic forces or the modern political local weather.

Thirdly, each nations have traditionally been perceived as a multicultural, immigrant society, as a melting pot of various (principally European) cultures. McMaster (2002) opens his piece with the next comment: “Australia has the popularity of a tolerant multicultural nation; certainly, a high quality instance of a profitable immigrant society” (p. 279), after which outlines the paradoxical nature of this popularity given the historical past of racist and controversial insurance policies. The US can also be constructed on immigration and consists of a mixture of White, African American, American Indian, Asian, Hispanic/Latino or Center-Japanese and North African (United States Census Bureau, 2017), however an Anglo-Saxon excellent has dominated ‘Americanisation’ (Schain, 2010). Though each nations are, or have traditionally, been perceived as a multicultural society, some cultures had been “far much less welcome as a part of the melting pot” and others “excluded from the pot solely” (Schain, 2010, p. 215-216).

Nationwide Safety and the ‘Unidentifiable’ Menace

To analyse why asylum-seekers are thought-about, or framed as, a risk to nationwide safety, the idea safety should first be outlined. As explored by Williams (2007), safety is a tough time period to outline, and it has no goal which means. Slightly, “(in)safety is what folks make it” (Williams, 2007, p. 1022), chatting with the subjective and malleable nature of the idea. Williams (2007) continues to explain that almost all analysts think about safety by way of the alleviation of pressing and crucial threats, each by way of circumstances crucial for survival and to “pursue cherished political and social ambitions” (p. 1022).

Moreover, the excellence between nationwide and human safety is necessary within the dialogue on securitisation. The latest historical past of safety might be break up into roughly three phases: Chilly Struggle safety, post-Chilly Struggle safety and post-9/11 safety. While Chilly Struggle safety was primarily involved with the specter of communism militarily and politically, after the autumn of the Berlin Wall in 1989 bipolarity in worldwide affairs subsided and safety turned about threats to international peace.[1] Consequently, a human safety agenda endured within the 1990s involved with a doctrine of safety and a rise of multi-lateral humanitarian interventions.[2] The idea of human safety, born out of the 1994 United Nations Growth Report, hyperlinks the ideas of human rights, growth and safety by the concept the person ought to have freedom from worry and need (Ogata & Cels, 2003).

Michael Barnett (2011) in Empire of Humanity mentioned growing issues with occasions taking place overseas and the way this might impression safety of the person at residence.  Barnett asserts that, “[i]n the 1990s, all the pieces modified … Lined by 24-hour information companies, the world may now watch in actual time, the horrific spectacles of state failure, civil battle, ethnic cleaning, and genocide”, implying that the modified interplay of the person with media impacted evolving discourse on safety. This attitude helps the concept 9/11 can’t be considered the occasion that modified the character of safety – that continuity from the 90s exists.

A shift in concern from human to nationwide safety might be noticed on the flip of the 21st Century. The post-9/11 safety conceptualisation is embedded in state-centric issues concerning the sovereignty and security of the nation. In his inaugural tackle in 2005 George W. Bush, referring to the September 11 assault on the US in 2001, acknowledged that “[w]e have seen our vulnerability … violence will collect, and multiply in harmful energy, and cross essentially the most defended border and lift a mortal risk” (“Key Quotes”, 2005). On this sense, weak states had been conceptualised as harmful, creating international insecurity, and state energy redefined as safety created by pre-emptive resilience constructing.[3] Returning now to William’s (2007) definition of safety because the alleviation of risk, the shift from human to nationwide safety has changed the emphasis on alleviation of risk to people’ human rights with the alleviation of threats to the nation-state.

Securitisation idea has sought to outline numerous points of a course of that typically happens, for one thing to be securitised. Securitisation is transformative – describing how one thing is became a risk to the nation-state. Fisher and Anderson (2015) discover how securitisation happens as a speech act, normally by western coverage makers, the place an ‘occasion or house’ turns into an existential risk. This risk exists in reference to a Western state or inhabitants and is used with a view to reputable distinctive responses by political leaders (Fisher and Anderson, 2015). This response is past the scope of regular, accepted political behaviour, and thus may defy the norms and legal guidelines of a society. This breach is nonetheless justified by the upcoming risk to the state or its inhabitants.

This definition posed by Fisher and Anderson (2015) raises just a few points needing to be explored additional. The deliberate use of the phrase ‘existential’ to outline the risk created by securitisation is necessary because it alludes to a blurring of the traces of actual and imaginary. Existential means “implicitly or explicitly asserting actuality versus risk” (Miriam-Webster, 2018), and provided that this risk is created by a speech act, it implies that even when the speech act is claiming a risk based mostly in falsehood, it is going to create a very actual notion of risk. This might be necessary to return again to given as we speak’s dialogue on ‘Faux Information’ and the way the reality of the risk will not be crucial think about it being perceived as such.

The second component of this definition that’s fascinating within the context of asylum-seekers is the concept an ‘occasion or house’ is reworked into an existential risk. What does this entail precisely, and does this imply that an individual or group of individuals can’t be became an existential risk? Buzan, de Wilde and Waever (1998) focus on how securitisation is the transformation of an actor or situation right into a matter of safety, thus implying that people or teams might be securitised. To additional reply this, one can look traditionally to what different ‘occasions or areas’ have been labelled as threats to nationwide safety.

After World Struggle Two, the most important risk to American nationwide safety was labelled as Soviet expansionism and need to dominate the Eurasian land mass and all through the world (Leffler, 1984). Through the Chilly Struggle period, from the attitude of each the USA and Australia, invasion by communism was the clearest risk to nationwide safety. Communism may, very clearly and tangibly, be labelled because the enemy of the state. In Australia, the ‘Domino Principle’ vividly dominated international coverage and politics, which dictated that “communist actions in Asia fashioned a part of a monolithic, inherently expansionist Communist world with headquarters in Moscow and Beijing” (McLean, 2001, p. 316). Australia’s related labelling of communism because the nationwide enemy has been referred to as a by-product of US domination, and historians have debated on whether or not there was an actual risk from communism (McLean, 2001), or whether or not this imagined risk was created by securitisation. Regardless, this widespread perceived risk to nationwide safety in the course of the Chilly Struggle serves to make Australia and the USA an fascinating comparability as we speak.

In the USA, anti-communist bias outlined asylum coverage all through the Chilly Struggle and asylum was used as a geopolitical software. Cubans and Indochinese refugees fleeing the communist regime had been granted asylum, whereas Haitians had been proactively excluded from asylum all through the 1960s and 70s (Hamlin, 2012). Within the 1980s the US Coast Guard started interdiction at sea, to profile the refugees and guarantee that solely these with strategic political worth had been allowed in (Hamlin, 2012). Equally, Australia’s first wave of Asian asylum-seekers arrived from Vietnam, the place they had been fleeing from communism (McMaster, 2002). 

When the Chilly Struggle ended the specter of a communist invasion dissipated with it, and the enemy of the state turned much less clear. In post-Chilly Struggle worldwide politics, non-state actors turned more and more necessary and threats to the state diversified.[4] Threats to nationwide safety can vary anyplace from medicine, and related felony networks (Crick, 2012; Carrapicco, 2014), to public well being (Kelle, 2007; Leboeuf & Broughton, 2008; Lo Yuk-ping & Thomas, 2010) and local weather change (Broszka, 2009). The autumn of the Soviet Union appeared to open-up the likelihood for a broader vary of phenomena to turn into related to a risk to safety.

A major a part of securitisation idea is to contemplate the context during which a present discourse is created, and the historical past during which it’s embedded. Hamlin (2012), in a historic exploration of US asylum coverage, explores how coverage change can finest be understood by way of long-term processes. Hamlin (2012) argues that all through the Chilly Struggle, modifications concerning will increase in border safety, regimes of deterrence, expedited removing processes and obligatory detention of asylum-seekers had been already occurring within the US. Though it seems as if a dramatic change occurred following the September 11 assaults, Hamlin (2012) argues that as we speak’s restrictive measures have a protracted historical past. Subsequently, the Chilly Struggle enabled exceptions for these fleeing communism, however there was underlying continuity in regimes of deterrence of asylum-seekers. The change lies in the truth that politicians turned more and more involved with border safety after 9/11 (Hamlin, 2012), maybe due to the political capital to be gained.

That brings us to the central query – what’s the present political discourse surrounding asylum-seekers and nationwide safety? How are asylum-seekers framed by these in energy, and the way are they consequently perceived by society? Within the following part, we’re involved with the completely different points of the risk that asylum-seekers are framed as posing to Australia and the USA.

Components of the Menace

Menace to Nationwide Sovereignty

State sovereignty is central to the dialogue of asylum-seekers and nationwide safety, in addition to a tenet in worldwide legislation. In response to liberal interdependence theorists, sovereignty is the “state’s capability to manage actors and actions inside and throughout its borders” (Thomson, 1995, p. 213). State sovereignty issues its nationwide borders and the best of the state to manage and regulate who comes and goes from that state. Asylum-seekers, as non-nationals of the state, breach the state’s sovereignty when an unauthorised entrance happens.

Torpey (1999) has mentioned how the invention of the passport was used as a method of monopolising the management over the motion of people throughout borders, and is now an intrinsic a part of the developed state and international system. Nonetheless, as Adamson (2006) factors out, in actuality states would not have a monopoly over the motion of individuals, and non-state actors such folks smugglers compete with the state. In response to Adamson (2006), 30-50% of migrants to Western industrialised nations are so-called irregular migrants. Irregular migrants, typically referred to as unlawful migrants, are people who enter by unlawful channels (Adamson, 2006). This could embody these smuggled, trafficked or people who have entered with out (enough) documentation. Asylum-seekers are a part of this group however don’t make up the whole group, as it could additionally embody financial migrants.         When coming into by these ‘unlawful channels’, asylum-seekers can turn into conceived as a risk to nationwide sovereignty as a result of they’ve entered with out the state’s authorisation thus breaching its sovereignty.

Hamlin (2012) mentioned how the United Nations Excessive Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)is anxious about blended migration, the place migrants with completely different motives arrive concurrently to a rustic. On this scenario, asylum-seekers can turn into conflated with different migrants as there may be doubt forged over the motives of asylum-seekers. Doubt exists about whether or not asylum-seekers are literally in want of safety, and refugee standing, or whether or not they’re simply in search of higher financial fortunes (Hamlin, 2012). Hamlin (2012) warns nonetheless that states can select how they categorise migrants in keeping with their political wants on the time, and thus the classes of asylum-seeker, refugee and financial migrants mirror the political second.

Whether or not an asylum-seeker is a ‘reputable’ refugee is set by the state-run asylum procedures and tips are outlined in worldwide legislation, which is itself topic to in depth interpretation. The accuracy and subjective nature of asylum selections has acquired a lot scholarly debate[5] and is past the scope of this paper, however the rejection of asylum-seekers performs a job in how they’re perceived.  Within the 1990s, there have been 6 million asylum functions in industrialised nations however solely a small share had been discovered to be reputable (Adamson, 2006). This massive charge of rejection of asylum-seekers can be utilized by some to justify why most asylum-seekers will not be real refugees and thus characterize a risk to nationwide sovereignty. Hamlin (2012) argues that the proof that the worldwide acceptance charge for refugees has gone down, but the variety of functions rose, assumes each a great inquiry and interview course of, in addition to that deterrence insurance policies haven’t hindered real refugees in making use of.

McKenzie and Hasmath (2013) describe how strict asylum insurance policies “aimed to handle nationwide anxieties of porous borders” (p. 420) in Australia. That is supported by Burke (2001), who factors out that territorial integrity is perceived to be threatened by asylum seekers. This alludes to the concept the border as a bodily barrier ought to be impenetrable for a nation to take care of territorial integrity. When asylum seekers could make it by ‘holes’ within the borders, this due to this fact threatens the sovereignty of a nation. Importantly, wealthier nations can be sure that their border turn into much less penetrable – which speaks volumes for the ability dynamics of the securitisation of asylum seekers. Developed nations similar to the USA and Australia can make investments tens of millions to make sure that the sovereignty of the nation-state is maintained over the human safety of the person in search of safety.

That is highlighted additional in the concept refugees, who’ve been granted asylum, are depicted as extra deserving of safety in Australia. Those that arrive by boat had been discovered by McKenzie and Hasmath (2013) to be framed as ‘leaping the queue’ – thus the way of arrival seems to matter within the stage risk posed. Maybe this can be a political assertion of nationwide sovereignty, as with asylum seekers the federal government doesn’t management who enters.

Adamson (2006) sums up the difficulty of sovereignty properly when she states that “the variety of false asylum-seekers, mixed with the excessive stage of unlawful immigration, contributes to the notion that sates are dropping sovereign management over their borders” (p. 174). That is linked to a worry of globalisation and a worry that because the motion of products and merchandise will increase transnational, the world will turn into more and more borderless (McMaster, 2002).

Menace to Particular person Security

Asylum-seekers are labelled a risk to peace, and extra particularly as a risk to a person’s security. Terrorism – each as an existential risk to the sovereignty of the nation, in addition to to the protection of the person (Buzan, 1991) – appears to be on the forefront of this dialogue. Asylum-seekers, typically having originated from nations concerned in battle or violent extremism, are labelled terrorists, or as bringing with them the violence they’re trying to flee. Seidman-Zager (2010), in a working paper on the securitisation of asylum-seekers within the UK, discusses how the perceived hyperlink between asylum-seekers and terrorists has been a latest growth, introduced on by the occasions of 9/11 and international battle on terror. The asylum system is labelled as a method for people intent on committing terrorist assaults to enter a nation (Malloch & Stanley, 2005; Huysmans & Buonfino, 2008). Seidman-Zager (2010) describes how terrorism is perceived to trigger worry, ache and violence, however concurrently unattainable to manage, predict and perceive. Lastly, he finds that as a result of asylum-seekers are portrayed as nameless, and their id tough to determine (Malloch & Stanley, 2005), it’s unattainable to know what number of of them may doubtlessly be terrorists. Thus, the conflation of asylum-seekers with terrorism causes them to be labelled a risk.

Aside from a hyperlink with terrorism, asylum-seekers have additionally been labelled a risk to the people’ security as a result of it’s weak to exploitation by younger males. Buchanan et al. (2003) discovered {that a} widespread stereotype of asylum-seekers was a harmful male coming into the UK to interrupt up communities. Seidman-Zager (2010) explores how this labelling of asylum-seekers as harmful is racist ‘othering’ of various religions and cultures. Xenophobic worry of others contributes to the homogenisation of the opposite, on this case as violent terrorists. In the USA border safety heightened after 9/11 as a result of America turned afraid of terrorism (Adamson, 2006).

Menace to Nationwide Identification

Asylum-seekers are labelled as a risk to nation id and cohesion as a result of as Adamson (2006) put it, migrants might have break up political loyalties. In contrast to refugees, who’re anticipated to surrender their earlier nationality or id even after they obtain the safety of the host nation, asylum-seekers are nonetheless discover themselves in a limbo the place they’ve neither rejected their outdated loyalties nor adopted new ones. Maybe this contributes to the worry of asylum-seekers, as they’re considered as having a risky id.

To know how asylum-seekers are perceived as a risk to nationwide id, one should look traditionally. Australia’s nationwide id is rooted in white superiority, going again to immigration schemes within the 1800s. ‘Assisted passages’ had been the commonest method to migrate to Australia between 1831 and 1982, and these had been “hardly ever prolonged to non-British individuals” (McMaster, 2002, p. 281). The primary non-white people who got here to Australia had been Chinese language migrants in the course of the gold rush of the mid 1800s, leading to racial hostility, racial exclusion and subsequent worry that “the handful of white folks can be ‘swamped’ by the hordes from the north” (McMaster, 2002, p. 282). Fears of immigrants rapidly became exclusionary insurance policies within the colonies of Queensland and New South Wales. Burke (2008) argues that it was worry of Asian invasion that prompted the colonies’ drive for Federation

McMaster (2002) argues that modern fears of asylum-seekers are entrenched in Australian society and originated as early as Federation in 1901. After turning into an unbiased state in 1901, Australian coverage focussed on nation-building and the primary Act handed was the Immigration Restriction Act 1901 (McMaster, 2002). This Act aimed to guard the newly fashioned nation towards threats to social cohesion and mirrored a broader worry of invasion from Asia. It included the White Australia Coverage, which continued into the early 1970s at the same time as the federal government widened the immigration catchment space from Britain to Northern and Southern European nations. Immigration to Australia remained largely white, at the same time as Australia admitted greater than 170,000 (non-Asian) refugees earlier than 1954 (McMaster, 2002). The persistence of an Australian nationwide id that’s rooted in a racist sense of superiority and the exclusion of non-white nationals helps to elucidate why non-white asylum-seekers are labelled as a risk to this racial homogeneity.

Asylum-seekers could also be offered on a risk to nationwide id as a result of they might be unwilling to combine into society (McDonald, 2011). Immediately, asylum-seekers are perceived as a risk to Australian nationwide id and lifestyle (McKay, Thomas and Kneebone, 2011). McDonald (2011) argues that the Australian nation was constructed on ‘borderphobia’ and thus had a powerful worry of the ‘different’. McMaster (2002) summarises this properly when he states, “asylum-seekers have been demonised and, just like the ‘hordes’, outlined as the opposite’ – to be feared and used as scapegoats within the title of border management and nationwide safety” (p. 281). Anderson and O’Dowd (1999) discover how social and communal boundaries are considered as more and more separate from bodily territorial borders, and the “nation-state excellent of cultural homogeneity and centralized political energy is each confirmed and disrupted on the border” (p. 596). They go on to discover how borders “generate a fantastic dynamic for state initiatives of inside homogenization” (Anderson & O’Dowd, 1999, p. 598), signifying energy and exclusion. McNevin (2007) discusses how this creates an ‘us’ versus ‘them’ mentality that threatens nationwide cohesion attributable to an ethical and cultural ‘other-ness’. Lastly, Innes (2010) explores how it isn’t the person who is perceived as a risk, however slightly the “threatening homogenous collective” (p. 461).

Financial Menace

Asylum seekers are labelled as a risk economically, each to the person and to the state. For the person, the risk from asylum-seekers comes from the concept addition folks within the nation will take away employment alternatives from present residents. Huysmans (2000) explored how “shortage makes immigrants and asylum-seekers rivals to nationwide residents within the labour market” (p.767). In Australia, a worry of the financial energy of immigrants began within the mid 1800s, when Chinese language immigrants working within the gold mines created emotions of financial insecurity among the many settlers (McMaster, 2002).

Secondly, there may be concern concerning the time spent within the host nation whereas a declare is being processed, particularly if the asylum-seekers is discovered to not be a reputable refugee, as a result of excessive prices of asylum processing (Kaye, 2013). The concept the asylum-seeker is utilizing priceless state sources, by the welfare system, is a priority that continues past the preliminary declare (Innes, 2010). Right here the worry is that asylum-seekers are lazy and can depend on unemployment advantages supplied by their host state, contributing to “[o]verwhelming state’s capability to offer public companies [which] can result in conflicts over sources” (Adamson, 2006, p. 176). Innes (2010) discusses how the worry comes from the “encroachment upon the flexibility of a state to restrict its sources to its residents” (p. 461), and a typical false impression that asylum-seekers may have precedence within the welfare system (Huysmans, 2000).

The irony of the perceived financial risk is that detention of asylum-seekers “represents a severe monetary value to tax-payers” (Nakache, 2011, p. 94). Within the 2018 Monetary 12 months, the US Division of Homeland Safety is about to spend Three billion on immigration detention (Benenson, 2018), and Australia’s detention program value 2.5 billion in 2017 (Karp, 2018). Group ‘detention’ while awaiting the asylum choice is a 3rd of the price (Karp, 2018).

How Are Asylum-Seekers Labelled as a Menace?

Speech Acts as Strategy of Securitisation

In response to securitisation idea, it’s by speech acts that points turn into perceived of as threats to a political group (McDonald, 2011).  The rhetoric of nationwide leaders and politicians is extraordinarily necessary in creating the thought of a safety risk, due to the constructed nature of safety (McDonald, 2011). Subsequently the ability of discourse is that it labels one thing as a risk, so it turns into one (Waever, 2004). On this sense, it’s each productive and reproductive; political rhetoric identifies a risk to the nation, and thru the very technique of this identification, the risk is created, and thru its perceived existence, the risk is heightened. The function of the media in selecting up on and repeating sure rhetoric can also be necessary on this dialogue.


In each the USA and Australia, a rhetoric of illegality is utilized to asylum-seekers, whereby their entry into the nation by unlawful pathways renders their asylum request unlawful additionally. Hamlin (2012) states that the US rhetoric of illegality has a protracted historical past and has all the time been utilized to Haitians and Central People. This rhetoric is problematic as a result of so-called ‘unlawful pathways’, similar to coming by boat to Australia or not crossing the Mexico-US border at an official port of entry, are typically the one possibility out there to asylum-seekers.

In Australia, the phrases ‘boat folks’, ‘refugee’ and ‘illegals’ are used interchangeably by the media, and McKay, Thomas and Blood (2011) discovered that different inaccurate and derogatory phrases similar to ‘unlawful asylum-seeker’ or ‘unlawful refugee’ have been utilised. These phrases, and the rhetoric that coming by boat breaches Australian legislation, implies that the actions of asylum-seekers are unlawful. McKay, Thomas and Blood (2011) analyse how the Australian media performed on social anxiousness, ethical panic and the potential danger that asylum-seekers pose for Australian society. In a welcome video displayed in detention centres to asylum-seekers that had arrived on Manus Island and Nauru, the then Immigration Minister Scott Morrison is quoted as saying, “You’ve got been delivered to this place right here as a result of you have got sought to enter Australia illegally by boat” (‘Very Involved’, 2015).

Within the US, the rhetoric of illegality is commonly employed by the media to explain undocumented or irregular migrants. Fox Information has been referring to the 2018 ‘Migrant Caravan’ as ‘unlawful immigrants’, even earlier than they reached the US border the place most of them had been planning to legally search asylum (Mikelionis, 2018). The usage of this terminology is deliberate and highly effective in suggesting that migrants are breaking the legislation, and due to this fact are criminals. Regardless of the inherent contradiction of “unlawful asylum-seekers”, as it isn’t unlawful to hunt asylum, the rhetoric of illegality persists and is superior by Donald Trump.


The rhetoric of illegality helps create a notion that asylum-seekers are criminals. As John Oliver summarised it, “[c]rossing the border is against the law, due to this fact anybody crossing it’s a felony, and since all criminals are harmful, anybody crossing the border is a harmful felony.” (LastWeek Tonight, 2018).

This concept of criminality is superior by Trump by repeatedly suggesting that the Migrant Caravan is joined by “criminals and unknown Center Easterners” in a tweet on October 22nd 2018 (Trump, 2018), including later that “many Gang Members and a few very unhealthy individuals are blended into the Caravan” (Smith, 2018). Moreover the racist profiling of all folks from the Center East as criminals, the labelling of migrants as criminals has been picked up information retailers similar to Fox Information who mentioned the “felony components and a identified convicted assassin” within the caravan (Fox Information, 2018).

Past the Migrant Caravan, Trump has instructed that each one Mexicans trying to enter the USA are drug sellers, rapists and criminals. In a speech throughout his presidential marketing campaign in 2016, Trump acknowledged:

When Mexico sends its folks, they’re not sending their finest. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people who have numerous issues, they usually’re bringing these issues with us. They’re bringing medicine. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.

Donald Trump, June 16, 2015 (“Donald Trump speech”, 2018)

The rhetoric right here is that asylum-seekers are gang members, intent on trafficking medicine into the nation. A worry of drug trafficking networks, exemplified by the ‘battle on medicine’, in addition to basic violence is linked to asylum seekers. Trump exclaimed in December 2018, “the folks on this nation don’t need criminals, and people who have numerous issues and medicines pouring into our nation … shut it down for border safety” (Jacobs, 2018).

In Australia, the criminality of asylum-seekers arriving by boat is twofold. Firstly, anybody discovered to help asylum-seekers of their journey might be charged with a felony offense. Thereby not solely is arriving by boat unlawful however aiding or encouraging anybody else to do the identical is punishable by legislation. In his tackle to the brand new arrivals in detention centres, Morrison has acknowledged:

If they’ve sought to help you or anybody else, they’ll come to the eye of the police, and will face expenses and if convicted they’ll serve jail time, and if they’re on a visa that visa might be cancelled.

Scott Morrison, August 19, 2015 (‘Very Involved’, 2015)

Secondly, the criminality debate has been framed as a battle towards folks smuggling. As McKay, Thomas and Blood (2011) explored, the media offered folks smugglers as the brand new risk to Australians. Right here it’s the felony networks of individuals smugglers that “Australia should wage a battle towards” (ABC Information, 2013). Scott Morrison, in an interview with ABC Information, repeatedly referred to the battle towards folks smugglers and the popularised slogan of “we’ll cease the boats” (ABC Information, 2013). The federal government presents stopping the boats from arriving in Australia as profitable the ‘combat’ towards folks smugglers, thereby equating asylum-seekers with the felony community of individuals smugglers, or as having been tricked by the criminals. Scott Morrison in his tackle to new arrivals has acknowledged, “You’ve got been instructed a lie by folks smugglers. They’ve taken benefit of you. They’ve ripped you off” (‘Very Involved’, 2015). Subsequently asylum-seekers are both felony folks smugglers, or missing company of their stupidity.

A battle on folks smugglers is justified by politicians for the protection of the asylum-seekers. Scott Morrison has been quoted as saying that the “sea is a harmful place” (ABC Information, 2013), repeating the concept stopping the boats is saving lives. Invoice Shorten has been quoted as saying, “I believe it’s clear that the mix of regional settlement, with offshore processing, and likewise the flip again coverage, is defeating folks smugglers” (Anderson, 2015).


A rhetoric of dangerosity in the USA refers particularly to the Migrant Caravan as an invasion, alluding to the concept folks in search of asylum are a risk after they breach the sovereignty of nationwide borders. Trump tweeted on October 29th, 2018 that “[t]his is an invasion of our Nation and our Army is ready for you!” (Smith, 2018). The urgency of this invasion was highlighted when he stated, “Oh, they’ll be right here quick. They’re making an attempt to stand up any method they will” (Smith, 2018b). Trump additional heightened the sense of urgency when he referred to as the caravan a nationwide emergency (Trump, 2018). Mike Pompeo, US Secretary of State, referred to as the caravan an try to “violate the sovereignty of Mexico” in an interview with Fox Information (‘Bctvguy’, 2018) and this language of invasion has been picked up by information retailers. Newt Gingrich, a Fox Information correspondent, acknowledged that “that is an invasion … attacking the USA sovereignty” (‘Bctvguy’, 2018).

The well being of the caravan migrant has additionally been utilized in rhetoric to intensify fears of a organic invasion and current asylum-seekers as a risk to the well being and security of People. Former Immigration Minister David Ward was quoted as saying, “They’re coming in with ailments similar to smallpox and leprosy and TB which are going to contaminate our folks in the USA” (Smith, 2018b).

Australian rhetoric on sovereignty is exemplified within the title of the present border coverage, Operation Sovereign Borders. Scott Morrison has repeatedly reiterated the significance of nationwide safety within the Pacific, however with out express point out to asylum-seekers. In his first presentation on Australia’s international coverage as Prime Minister, he acknowledged that Australia’s nationwide safety depends on the Pacific in making certain that the Pacific is “safe nationally, steady economically and sovereign politically” (ABC Information, 2018). As spokesperson for immigration for the Opposition in 2013, Morrison additionally referred to the turning again of boats coverage as crucial for the “security of our personal folks”, in addition to it being our “sovereign choice” (ABC Information, 2013).

There’s additionally an more and more militarised rhetoric in Australian politics in the direction of asylums seekers. Politicians seek advice from the interdiction of boats at sea as ‘missions’ and received’t reveal the particular insurance policies, utilizing a language of secrecy and safety that heightens the notion of a risk to nationwide safety. Scott Morrison has stated that he can’t reveal “strikes made at sea and the ways that compromise the mission” (ABC Information 2013).

Securitisation Outcomes in Coverage

Normalization of Extraordinary Measures

The eventual consequence of securitisation is the normalisation of extraordinary measures outdoors the political norm. This may be manipulated by politicians as a method to realize an finish, similar to a political objective. As McDonald (2011) has summarised, “political actors try to make use of the language of safety and risk to allow particular political responses” (p. 283).  By creating a way of urgency for the risk confronted, extra excessive insurance policies might be handed as a response to this risk with out an excessive amount of political disapproval. 

The extraordinary responses to asylum-seekers, in response to their risk to nationwide safety, take the type of the elevated militarisation of asylum points, obligatory detention insurance policies, the interdiction of migrant vessels and the refusal to resettle these discovered to be reputable refugees.


The rhetoric of invasion outlined earlier justifies a army response, as a result of asylum-seekers are offered as a army downside. The response of the US authorities to the migrant caravan has been to ship energetic obligation troops to the US-Mexico border in anticipation for his or her arrival (Smith, 2018). The precise variety of army private deployed has acquired blended reviews within the media, however President Trump made threats of as much as 15,000 (Smith, 2018b). The deployment of probably armed army personnel to confront migrants who’re unarmed and in search of safety is a transparent indication of the militarisation of the response to asylum-seekers. In November 2018, American border officers used army type drive on migrants trying to cross the Mexico-US border to hunt asylum (“US officers”, 2018). In response to the Migrant Caravan, Mexican authorities are more and more utilizing army drive, with one migrant passing away in November after being hit by a rubber bullet when making an attempt to enter Mexico (Smith, 2018b). Trump’s plan to construct a wall alongside the Mexican border is a militarised picture and alludes to a fortification of the USA’ border consistent with conventional army defence.

Australia’s Operation Sovereign Borders coverage equally militarises the response to asylum-seekers by the deployment of the navy to police Australian waters. They navy vessels are instructed to both flip across the boats or escort them to an offshore processing facility to make sure migrants don’t attain Australian land (Doherty, 2017). This can be a clear instance of using the army to take care of a humanitarian situation, justified utilizing the rhetoric of ‘battle’ towards folks smugglers. If folks smuggling is against the law, this justifies a militarised response.

Australia and the USA will not be the primary, or solely, examples of the militarisation of asylum-seekers. Italy’s Mare Nostrum Operation involving their naval and air drive personnel within the Mediterranean Sea saved 1000’s of migrants and introduced them to the Italian coast (Taylor, 2018). The distinction between the Italian deployment of the army and the Australian and American is that while the Italian navy appeared to undertake the function of humanitarians in conducting search and rescue operations, the US and Australia deployed the army as a defensive software to strengthens one’s borders and maintain migrants out. Arguably, Australia’s operations at sea have risked lives slightly than saved them (Doherty, 2017).

Detention Facilities

A detention clause has existed since 1901 for “illegal non-citizens that search to enter/stay in Australia with out a legitimate visa or entry allow” (McMaster, 2002, p.283). Australia presently has one offshore detention centre, on Nauru, a small island state within the Pacific Ocean (Davidson, 2018). Nauru was first used as an offshore processing centre for asylum-seekers after the Tampa Incident in 2001 and is utilized by the Australian authorities to side-step its obligations below worldwide legislation (Doherty, 2016). The detention centre on Nauru run by the Australian authorities has raised a mess of human rights issues, embody indefinite arbitrary detention, detention of youngsters and unsanitary and crowded residing circumstances. The Nauru Information, uncovered by The Guardian in 2016, detailed reviews of abuse of youngsters, extreme psychological well being emergencies together with suicide and self-harm and instances of sexual abuse (Evershed et al., 2016). Regardless of the publication of those abuses by the press and subsequent protest by human rights teams the detention facility stays in use on Nauru.

The Australian authorities closed a detention facility on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea, in 2017 and tried to maneuver the remaining refugees and asylum-seekers to various housing on the island (Fox, 2018). Nonetheless this various was deemed unsafe by some, and a whole bunch of males remained within the rundown detention centre with out entry to electrical energy or working water (Fox, 2018). In November 2018, some refugees remaining on Manus Island had been transferred to Nauru due to a worsening well being disaster on Manus (Davidson, 2018). These people have been granted refugee standing, can by no means resettle in Australia and are awaiting third-country resettlement (Davidson, 2018). The resettlement take care of the USA for 1,200 refugees is in place however shifting slowly (Davidson, 2018).

A associated extraordinary measure put in place by the Australian authorities seems to be the censorship within the press in relation to Nauru island. Visa prices for international journalists to Nauru value 8,000 US {dollars}, and functions for this visa are tough, if not unattainable, to submit (Doherty, 2016). Secondly, the Australian Border Power Act 2015, article 42,bans these working in offshore detention amenities to reveal ‘protected info’, carrying a penalty of imprisonment for 2 years (Doherty, 2016).

America utilises immigration detention centres alongside the Mexican border that equally breach the human rights of detainees (Gumbel, 2018). Underneath a brand new “zero tolerance coverage” for irregular border crossings initiated by the federal government in April 2018, 1000’s of migrants had been charged with unlawful border crossing and sentenced to between 2 days and 6 months in jail (Gumbel, 2018). After they’re launched from jail, most will almost definitely be deported or wait in immigration detention while their asylum declare is being processed.

Underneath this coverage, youngsters have been held in detention individually because the mother and father undergo the judicial course of and find yourself in federal prisons (Holpuch, 2018). The extended separation of youngsters as younger as 18 months from their mother and father could cause irreparable hurt psychologically medical doctors have reported, condemning the coverage as merciless (Holpuch, 2018). Australia has equally been criticised for inflicting hurt to minors in detention centres (“Human rights teams”, 2018).

Detention can also be a facet of militarisation, or at the very least the criminalisation mentioned earlier –  detention centres, regardless of having a distinct title, are basically prisons for migrants. As McMaster (2002) summarised, “since September 2001 detainees have been irresponsibly conflated with terrorists, in order that using detention has acquired a army and defence rational” (p. 287-288). Detention additional serves to dehumanise asylum-seekers by the circumstances they’re positioned in, with US Immigration detention being likened to cages (Holpuch, 2018).


In Australia, a catch-cry of ‘turning again boats’ for the protection of asylum-seekers has prompted migrant boats to be interdicted at sea. The coverage is to not enable migrants to board Australian vessels however present lifeboats to tow them again to the place they got here from (Schloenhardt & Craig, 2015). If total boats of asylum-seekers are turned away, this implies particular person case evaluation doesn’t happen, leading to some real refugees deserving safety being turned away. This coverage, and related insurance policies by applied by Italy to push again migrant boats within the Mediterranean (Agerholm, 2018) breach the worldwide legislation precept of non-refoulement, which dictates that refugees is probably not returned to the nation during which they face persecution (United Nations, 1951). Underneath Australia’s hard-line border coverage, even these discovered to have a reputable worry of persecution, and thus given refugee standing, won’t ever be settled in Australia, as a substitute choosing a ‘third nation’ resettlement resolution (Anderson, 2015).

In the USA, the expedited justice system put in place for the “zero tolerance” coverage meant most migrants pleaded responsible to misdemeanour of crossing border illegally, ensuing almost definitely in deportation after serving their misdemeanour sentence. 96.5% of migrants surveyed by the guardian pleaded responsible to the misdemeanour, influenced by lack of expertise and complicated processes (Solon et al., 2018).  This imply that even these genuinely in want of safety could also be deported.

Conclusions: The Significance of Context

These measures are extraordinary each of their disregard for worldwide refugee and human rights legislation, of their inhumane therapy of these fleeing from persecution and of their excessive nature. They violate worldwide agreements, in addition to inflicting psychological and bodily hurt to these in search of asylum. Importantly, these measures imply that Australia and the USA don’t enable asylum seekers honest and thorough evaluations of their instances, and thus don’t uphold their obligations below worldwide legislation to guard refugees.  This raises the query of how these insurance policies proceed with out severe backlash, and the way the securitised rhetoric is acquired by the inhabitants. Second wave securitisation theorists have acknowledged that the mere existence of a speech act will not be sufficient for securitisation to happen. Slightly, the best circumstances should exist for the threats to be believed (McDonald, 2008). The viewers’s receptiveness to securitisation rhetoric is central within the energy that it holds – however which circumstances make folks extra prone to securitised rhetoric?

McDonald (2008) discusses how perceived moments of political disaster affect securitisation. Heightened anxiousness in society concerning migration, and the function of the 2015 ‘migration disaster’ in Europe, play a central function. Europe noticed the best stage of asylum-seekers for the reason that Second World Struggle, with 1.Eight million refugees arriving in Europe since 2015 (Henley, 2018). Migration has dominated political rhetoric, with the thought of “waves of asylum seekers” coming from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq feeding populist rhetoric (Nguyen & Summermatter, 2015). Though the US and Australia had been much less affected by the disaster, the securitisation of asylum seekers is consistent with populist and anti-migration in Hungary, Italy and Germany (“Europe and Nationalism, 2018”).  The urgency of that disaster justifies the urgency of insurance policies and rhetoric that demand that one thing have to be carried out, now. Securitised speech acts are a welcome reply to folks’s anxieties, while concurrently feeding these anxieties, making a cycle which may be tough to interrupt.

Secondly, the present dialogue surrounding ‘Faux Information’, particularly in the USA, heightens the concept the risk doesn’t need to exist for it to be perceived as such. Elevated mistrust of the media and misinformation means imagined risk usually tend to be believed, and asylum-seekers extra more likely to be perceived as a risk when they don’t seem to be. Thirdly, the energy of id narratives is a vital situation for securitisation. Identification narratives make folks extra more likely to settle for securitised rhetoric (Wæver 2000). McDonald (2008) stresses the significance of current narratives of sovereignty and id, suggesting that these two components will not be solely invoked in securitised rhetoric, however are underlying circumstances.

An consequence of securitised rhetoric of asylum seekers past coverage is a wider rejection from society by the people in that society. This raises the query of who can securitise? As argued by Seidman-Zager (2010), it isn’t simply state representatives, or elites, that may participate in securitised rhetoric from a place of energy. As an alternative the function of people perpetuating concepts about asylum seekers as threats have to be examined. Countering rhetoric, for instance from NGOs or activists, may be thought-about in additional evaluation on society’s function in securitisation.

The insurance policies in impact in the USA and Australia are legitimated by the securitised rhetoric of illegality, criminality and invasion, which current asylum-seekers as threats to nationwide sovereignty, nationwide id, particular person security and financial sources. As each nations have been condemned for his or her refugee insurance policies by the United Nations and different refugee and human rights advocacy teams, the broader query of how this securitised rhetoric is ready to proceed is left unanswered. Additional analysis may discover how securitised rhetoric of asylum-seekers is normalised and perpetuated not solely by elites and the media, however by people in our on a regular basis lives. Safety, and risk, past the speech acts of political leaders, takes on a lifetime of its personal, with mutations past the intent of the preliminary speech.


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[1] Mohamedou, M. (2018, October 22). The Publish-Chilly Struggle Period and Interventionism: Session 5. [Class PowerPoint]. State-Constructing and Struggle-Making within the Growing World, Graduate Institute Geneva.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Mohamedou, M. (2018, October 29). The Publish-Chilly 9/11 World and Securitization: Session Six. [Class PowerPoint]. State-Constructing and Struggle-Making within the Growing World, Graduate Institute Geneva.

[4] Mohamedou, M. (2018, October 22). The Publish-Chilly Struggle Period and Interventionism: Session 5. [Class PowerPoint]. State-Constructing and Struggle-Making within the Growing World, Graduate Institute Geneva.

[5] For additional literature on the subjectivity of asylum selections, see Kagan, 2002; Pöllabauer, 2004, Herlihy & Turner, 2007 or Southam, 2011.

Written at: Graduate Institute of Worldwide and Growth Research
Written for: Mohammad-Mahmoud Ould Mohamedou
Date written: December 2018

Additional Studying on E-Worldwide Relations


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