South Africa has a national and international legal obligation to protect refugees. A functioning, efficient and fair asylum system is needed to protect refugees and filter those that do not require this protection, and would ensure that taxpayers’ funds are properly invested in a functioning system. A report by Lawyers for Human Rights found that ‘From an administrative efficiency perspective, the government is devoting significant resources to an ineffective system that is fundamentally failing to conduct proper status determinations. The effect may also be counterproductive to the government’s goals, as the long delays for appeals generated by the existing system encourage those economic migrants looking for a temporary means to regularise their status to enter the asylum system.’ (see http://www.lhr.org.za/publications/all-roads-lead-rejection)
More generally, migration is a phenomenon as old as humanity itself – and is a key aspect to our ever-connected globe. Migrants and refugees can bring skills to the South African economy, expanding economic services and contributing to the state through tax payments and economic demands. Migrants and refugees can contribute to South Africa’s involvement in regional development. Indeed, as recognized in the White Paper on International Migration, (http://www.dha.gov.za/WhitePaperonInternationalMigration-20170602.pdf), ‘The global movement of people, information, technology and capital across the globe gives us huge opportunities’. The White Paper proposes plans to manage migration, including more fluid economic migration opportunities in the SADC region which contribute to ‘the transformation of Africa’. (Its approach to refugees, however, is deeply concerning, as it plans the construction of asylum processing centers on the norther borders which, if a functioning asylum system existed, would not be needed.) South Africa’s National Development Plan (https://www.brandsouthafrica.com/governance/ndp/the-national-development-plan-a-vision-for-2030 ) also recognizes that the potential of migration can be harnessed to promote our national development.