Skip to main content
Immigrant Nations: A Comparison of the Immigration Law of Australia and the United States
University of Tasmania Law Review (2000)
  • Ty Shawn Wahab Twibell

This article discusses the political, legal and cultural similarities between the United States and Australia. It ties in the experience of the author in living both these countries and as an immigration attorney.

As an introduction, this article notes that Australia and the U.S. have many common traits. Both Australia and the U.S. are termed “immigrant nations” because the vast majority of what constitutes the populations in the current political entities of the “Commonwealth of Australia” or the “United States of America” are immigrants. Both nations were also rooted in the colonialism of the British Empire with corresponding Anglo-American legal systems.

An important illustration is that Australia and the U.S. also ethnically cleansed and assimilated their indigenous populations through a variety of legal, military, political and social means, including stereotypes to make way for the new, predominantly European, immigrants." This article observes and comments on this ongoing tragedy to understand their ongoing immigration processes. The past should show Americans and Australians that these “immigrants” are just like them.

One central focus of this 88 page article is that it provides a brief overview of the immigration system in Australia and discusses some of the major issues and trends in Australian immigration law. An overview of U.S. immigration law and current immigration issues are also provided. For example, U.S. immigration law is primarily rooted in the Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”) of 1952 as amended. Australian Immigration Law develops primarily from the Migration Act 1958 (Cth), which similar to the INA, had subsequent amendments and corresponding regulations. These discussions on the structure of the Australian and U.S. immigration law provide an introductory understanding of the structures of the US and Australian immigration systems. Discussion includes similarities and differences.

This article also discusses the similar policy issues in the U.S. and Australia; it ends with an analogy with the author’s own experience in the two countries and similar cultural traits of the two countries as they grapple with ever controversial immigration issues. For example, it is Australia's continuing xenophobic fear of migrants such as "boat people" from Afghanistan, Iran and China and, for the U.S., it is fear of Mexicans, Arabs and Muslims. Statistical research shows, such as in the case of Australia, despite the increasing fear and rhetoric of boat people overtaking Australia, the immigration flow into Australia has remained constant over decades. Moreover, in other groups, such as for Afghanis, the asylum grant rate is relatively high. This indicates, that Afghanis have a bona fide need for protection and it is not an undue burden on Australia.

As of 2008, 8 years after this article was published, Australia has now formally apologized to the Aborigines. The U.S. still has not.

  • Comparative Legal Systems,
  • Anglo-American Legal Systems,
  • International Law,
  • Conflict Studies,
  • Administrative Law,
  • Indigenous Rights,
  • American Constitutional Law,
  • Forced Migration,
  • Forced Displacement,
  • Forced Assimilation,
  • Cultural Stereotypes
Publication Date
Citation Information
Ty Shawn Wahab Twibell. "Immigrant Nations: A Comparison of the Immigration Law of Australia and the United States" University of Tasmania Law Review Vol. 19 Iss. 1 (2000)
Available at: