How to Talk to Your Left-Leaning Mates, Part 2: Immigration and Refugees


Ben Richards

In Part 2 of our series, “How to Talk to Your Left-Leaning Mates About …”, we discuss immigration and refugees – a hot-button issue that gets a lot of press coverage and that people react to in a very emotional way. Anyone has a hard time seeing innocent children in detention camps or the corpses of dead children on Turkish beaches. Conservatives want these atrocities to end as much as anyone; we just have a different solution to the problem.

So what is the conservative position on immigration?

hmas melbourne photo
Photo by SurfaceWarriors

Conservatives believe that not only should every country have and maintain strong border protection, but that it’s one of governments primary functions. A country should have control over who and what comes into it, and what and how many migrants should be settled. Border protection and defence is one of the few things the private sector cannot provide. This is why you will often hear conservative talk more about this issue than people on the left. Left-wing politicians would rather talk about how much money they are going to spend on things, because each side has a contrasting view of what is and isn’t the governments responsibility. When your left-leaning mates hear right-wingers talk about the border so much, they assume it’s because politicians are fanning the flames of xenophobia. Now some people on the right may be xenophobic, but wanting a strong and secure border doesn’t make you xenophobic.

When discussing immigration from a conservative perspective these assumptions will be made about you:
– You are stupid
– You want to stop or control people from coming into this country, so you are racist!!!
– You don’t care that immigrants are suffering in detention centres
– You don’t care that people live in horrible conditions all over the world

As a result, we have to be very careful how we approach discussing these issues if we want to change people’s perceptions of us.

Responding to arguments from the left

“You want to stop people from coming to Australia, or put some kind of controls on who gets to come here… Racist!!!”

If you are saying there should be no controls, you are advocating for a completely open border, so anyone can come to Australia to live without any kind of background check. Is that what you want? If so, no country in the world has the policy and there are two very good reasons for it.

Syria war photo
Photo by watchsmart

1. Unlimited immigration is unsustainable. Syria has a population of 24 million. The government is using chemical weapons to murder its own citizens. How many of those 24 million do you think would rather live in Australia? Even if 0.5 percent of the population of Syria want to come here, that’s 120,000 new arrivals. Where are they going to live? According the the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 85% of non-Australian-born residents live in already-over-populated urban areas. What will they do for work? Where will they go to school? We need to make sure we have a sustainable rate of immigration so that our infrastructure can handle the number of new arrivals we receive.

2. Criminals and terrorists will take advantage of an open border system with no background checks. Like it or not, there are groups in the world at war with the West and their attacks are becoming more and more common. We need to know as much as we can about people wanting to live in Australia, because terrorist groups have said they will attempt to infiltrate refugee groups. Also, you need to ask yourself what kind of a person wants to move country without a background check. What are they hiding? A criminal past? Ideologies that aren’t compatible with Western life? Malicious intent? We don’t know. You are gambling with the lives of every Australian when you don’t know who you are letting into a country. That’s a gamble I don’t want to take.

If you’re not for an open border then you concede there needs to be restrictions and a processing system. Hello fellow conservative!

“What I don’t like are the offshore detention centres. How can you justify people in detention centres? They are concentration camps. You are a Nazi.”

So many points to cover here. Offshore detention centres are intended as deterrents. If refugees are encouraged to enter Australia this way, they die. Over 3000 people died at sea when this was our policy. Stopping the boats isn’t about not letting brown people in. It’s about stopping the next Syrian child from washing up dead on a beach somewhere.

Also, the processing centres have to be offshore. For one, if people escape these detention centres, they are nearly impossible to track back down. Again, think about what type of people could take advantage of this system. Also, if refugees are processed in Australia, they are legally recognized as Australian residents. This creates many problems deporting these people if and when they are deemed not to be genuine refugees. If we can’t deport them and they are not genuine refugees, we have essentially created an open border policy.

Refugees are free to leave at any time. I don’t remember that being a feature of concentration camps. Then when offered the potential to re-settle in another country, they choose to return to their homeland. This makes them not genuine refugees. Yes, conditions are bad, people are being assaulted and raped… by other refugees!!! These are the people you want to let into our country? Or they are self-harming, and since when was self-harming a righteous act? A suicide bomber blows themselves up: this is an act of self-harm. We can’t use people’s self-harming as a deciding factor on if they can enter our country. All you do then is encourage more people to self-harm.

“You don’t want to help refugees!”

Nauru detention centre photo
Photo by lovemakesaway

I want nothing more then to help refugees. The best way to help refugees is to make the countries they are attempting to leave better places to live. The Western world can’t just import the entire population of every developing country. Then we just have vast areas of the earth uninhabited? That’s nonsensical. Even through skilled migration, if a country loses its doctors, engineers, scientists and entrepreneurs, how will that country ever develop into a place worth living in? It simply can’t and won’t. I dream of there not being a need for refugees, for there not needing to be a reason to escape war or brutal regimes. That is ultimately the only way to solve the refugee crisis for this and every generation that follows.

“You want to stop Muslims from migrating to Australia, you are racist!!!”

Last time I checked, Islam isn’t a race, it’s a religion. Or put in another way, it’s a collection of ideas. Now, no group with over 1 billion members all share exactly the same ideas, but a little research reveals some disturbing trends. This video from conservative mastermind Ben Shapiro does an excellent job of laying out what Muslims around the world actually believe. Worldwide Sharia law, executing homosexuals, forced marriages. Are these the ideas we want to import into this country? No one has a problem with the benign aspects of Islam and people who peacefully practice the religion. But we need to have some kind of check and balance in place to make sure we don’t settle people in Australia who have radical views. Now, some people call for a complete ban on Muslim immigration, and yes, you find these voices particularly on the far right. While it may seem like an easy solution to the problem of extremist Islamic violence, pre-judging someone entirely based on a group they belong to is against the conservative principals of individuality and the right to a fair trial. You will not find an endorsement for this policy in any article I write. All we’re asking for is a fair check and balance of someone’s beliefs before they enter our country.

“It’s hypocritical for white Australians to complain about border security when they invaded and took over Australia.”

It may seem counter-intuitive but this is actually the best argument for border security. If indigenous Australians had a strong border defence policy in 1788, it likely would have greatly changed the history of this country, and there is a chance this would still be a continent dominated by the indigenous population and culture. It’s evidence of how unlimited immigration can drastically change a country and a culture over a few generations. I’m not suggesting that any group is trying to secretly invade Australia, just talking about how powerful unlimited influx can be.


Do you have a left-wing argument or talking point you’d like a solid rebuttal for? Leave it in the comments and I’ll answer it in the next column.

In Part 3, we discuss health and education.