E.g., 06/08/2023
E.g., 06/08/2023
The Central Role of Cooperation in Australia’s Immigration Enforcement Strategy

Over the past three decades, cooperation with other countries has become a central part of Australia’s immigration enforcement strategy. These partnerships are central to Australian efforts to deter irregular maritime migration, tackle people smuggling, provide access to humanitarian protection while minimizing abuse of the asylum process, and return people without grounds to remain.

International cooperation has not been without challenges, however. While effective in curbing irregular maritime arrivals, Australian policies—including boat turnbacks and offshore processing of asylum claims in other countries—have raised serious concerns about asylum seekers’ access to effective refugee status determination processes, human-rights violations, and the substantial costs of such policies.

This report from MPI's Transatlantic Council on Migration examines the role cooperation plays within Australian immigration enforcement. It looks at bilateral cooperation with countries such as Indonesia, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Cambodia, and the United States, as well as regional cooperation through the Bali Process. Among the questions it asks: What should Australia prioritize for future cooperation? How can partnerships be made more sustainable? And how should Australia approach the tradeoffs inherent to this cooperation, particularly those surrounding access to humanitarian protection?

Table of Contents 

1  Introduction

2  The Enforcement Challenges Facing Australia
A. Managing Maritime Borders
B. Preventing People Smuggling
C. Providing Access to Humanitarian Protection While Minimizing Abuse of the Asylum Process
D. Returning Migrants without Grounds to Remain
E. Measures of Success

3  Australia’s Current Enforcement Strategy
A. Key Components of Australia’s Enforcement Strategy
B. Cooperation and Australia’s Enforcement Strategy

4  The Role of Cooperation in Australia’s Enforcement Strategy
A. Bilateral Cooperation: The Indonesian-Australian Relationship
B. Bilateral Cooperation: Offshore Processing and Resettlement
C. Regional Cooperation: The Bali Process

5  Evaluating Australia’s Enforcement Strategy through the Lens of Cooperation
A. How Has Cooperation Supported Australia’s Goal of Stopping the Boats?
B. What Are the Drawbacks of Australia’s Cooperation?
C. How Sustainable Is Australia’s Cooperation with Other Countries?

6  Looking to the Future
A. What Should Australia Prioritize for Future Cooperation?
B. What Steps Can Make Australia’s Cooperation More Sustainable?
C. How Should Australia Deal with the Tradeoffs, Particularly Those Surrounding Access to Protection?