Don’t Shut Border to Refugees

A refugee from one of the provinces of Idlib cooks in front of her tent in a refugee camp in Atimeh, on the Syrian-Turkish border on October 23, 2012. (Asmaa Waguih/Reuters)

Target: President of Austria Heinz Fischer

Goal: Block law that will allow the government of Austria to turn away refugees.

The National Council of the Austrian Parliament has passed a law that will allow the government of Austria to block the admission of refugees into the country. The bill would allow the federal government to declare a state of emergency and curtail the right to seek asylum in Austria. The law is vague about what conditions would trigger the state of emergency, which will allow the Austrian government a large amount of discretion in declaring it. Further, the law changes the rules for fast-track admission of refugees, allowing law enforcement to base admission on whether refugees face danger in neighboring countries rather than their country of origin.

This is the most recent in a series of restrictive border policies instituted by the Austrian government. In February, a law limiting daily asylum applications to 80 came into force. Furthermore, Austria is one of the few European countries that did not make any positions available under the September 2015 plan to relocate refugees from Italy and Greece among other European Union member countries. This legislation will not reduce the number of migrants in Europe, it will only mean that other countries have to support a higher number of asylum seekers. This may well increase the level of political pressure in neighboring countries to themselves further restrict the asylum application process.

There is still a chance of preventing this bill from becoming Austrian law, as laws must be signed by the President before they are implemented. Sign our petition and ask President Heinz Fischer to block the bill and keep Austria open to asylum seekers.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear President Fischer,

I am writing to you to urge you to refuse to sign the special measures included in the April 27th Asylum Law. The legislation is in breach of Austria’s obligations as a member of the E.U. and under international law. Furthermore, these laws will result in the suffering of thousands of people who will remain in refugee camps in Southern European countries that lack the resources to provide migrants a good quality of life. The resulting instability is a threat to every E.U. country.

It is true that more needs to be done to share migrants among European countries. However, the lack of credible plans should be seen as an opportunity for leadership among the countries that have the most to give, rather than an opportunity to close borders to those in need. As the world faces the biggest refugee crisis since the second World War it is predictable that reactionary elements of the general public and political classes will call for exclusion, isolationism, and tit-for-tat foreign policies. By refusing to sign these laws you can provide leadership and give voice to sense rather than fear, and empathy rather than hate.  

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Freedom House

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One Comment

  1. Anna Borsey says:

    NOT signing this one! Austria is a sovereign state and, as such, it has a right to determine how many, or how few, migrants it is prepared to admit across its borders. These migrants have not been processed, their identities are in most cases not known and open to conjecture as many of them burn or throw away their ID documents, passports etc, in the hope that this will give them a swifter passage and automatic asylum in a wealthy EU country. Furthermore, it is a proven fact that fifth columnists, i.e., Islamic terrorists, have hidden amongst the deluge of migrants flooding into Europe via Greece and Italy. Re “international law”, please cite EXACTLY what law, governed by which convention, you are referring to! This so called international law is not worth the paper it is written on as it cannot be enforced. There is no international court and no international army that can enforce any of this.

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