What Australia Could Teach Us About Immigration (Oh, Wait, It Forgot)
December 31, 2005, 04:00 AM
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Andrew Fraser's recent VDARE.COM column "Diversity vs. Freedom (contd): Australians Fight on the Beaches" and James Fulford's blogs on the same subject reminded me of how much Australia has changed since my first trip Down Under twenty years ago.

In the late 1970s, I lived in Seattle. I had moved to Washington State in 1978 to work for the Seattle First National Bank. But after a long career on Wall Street, I quickly became bored with conservative commercial banking.

Within a year, I ventured out to pursue fields other than finance. Before long, I found myself in—of all things—the saloon business. I owned and operated a couple of pubs that were profitable and fun.

But bars are also demanding, seven days a week, sixteen hours a day jobs. So after three years, I sold my two joints at a respectable return.

With time and money on my hands and no commitments in sight, I took off for an extended stay in Australia during the height of its summer.

I had a blast. I loved Australia and Australians. The beaches were unspoiled, the natives, friendly and the company grand.

I made the quick decision to pack up my few belongings and relocate somewhere—anywhere—along Australia's miles of coastline.

Upon my return to the United States, I promptly called the Australian embassy in San Francisco to inquire how I could become a permanent resident.

Here is how the conversation went:

Joe: "I have just returned from Australia and would like to know what the first steps are to become a permanent resident."

Australian Consulate: "I see. Very good. First let me ask you a few questions. How old are you?"

Joe: "38"

A.C.: "Do you have any special skills or talents that will enhance the lives of Australians?"

Joe: "No, not really."

A.C.: "Do you plan to establish a capital intensive business?"

Joe: "Well, no. But I do plan to work."

A.C.: "Mr. Guzzardi, we are delighted you vacationed in Australia. And we hope you return often. But Australia isn't interested in new residents that will simply grow old on our beaches."

And that was that! The consulate did not give me one single encouraging word about moving to Australia. I didn't, in fact, even qualify for an application.

At the time, of course, I knew absolutely nothing about immigration or the policies that govern it.

But as uninformed as I was, I recall that when I put down the phone, I thought:

"Who can argue?"

My presence in Australia would just represent—if you go straight to the bottom line— one less parking space for the Aussies.

Shortly after my phone call, Australia sadly went in an entirely different direction regarding immigration.

On subsequent trips to the continent—now a wizened immigration observer— I saw that Australia should have stuck to its earlier restrictionist position.

In my many conversations with the locals, I learned that, official national position aside, the man in the Australian streets was no happier about immigration than we are in California.

And as I look back today at my exchange with the Australian consulate, my original reaction—"Who can argue?"—strikes me as more reasonable than ever.

The questions the consulate asked me are the very ones that matter and the only ones that should represent the immigration guidelines for any nation.

Specifically,

"What contribution will anyone immigrating make toward the nation's common good?"

Picking apples for a pittance, reuniting with your cousins and/or representing a diverse ethnicity are not good enough reasons to justify changing Australia's or the United States' demographic.

The shame is that each prospective immigrant to the U.S. cannot be made to answer the simple three questions put to me.

Assuming such a scenario, of the approximately forty million immigrants that have entered the U.S —legally and illegally— since I "failed" my exam, only the tiniest fraction would have been deemed acceptable.

Joe Guzzardi [email him], an instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, has been writing a weekly newspaper column since 1988. This column is exclusive to VDARE.COM.