The truth is, no country in the world can afford to not secure its borders because uncontrolled immigration violates the rights of both nationals of a given country and those foreign nationals who seek to be legally recognised.

This is an urgent debate throughout the world. As a party committed to liberal democratic values, the DA believes this debate requires a responsible and balanced approach, beyond the crude nationalism best typified by the Trumpian call to simply “build a wall”.

Our plan aims to ensure we have well-functioning border posts; that we root out the corruption at the department of home affairs — a major cause of illegal immigration; and that we ensure undocumented immigrants are regularised or assisted in leaving the country if they do not meet the criteria to stay.

It is important to state from the outset that the cause of illegal immigration is the ANC government and its failure to address these challenges over the past 24 years. Because of this, people who carry illicit goods, poachers, human traffickers and those who are undocumented have found it easy to take advantage of the country’s porous borders. 

Showing leadership and addressing illegal immigration is not being xenophobic or unsympathetic. In fact, it is the complete opposite. 

Our proposal also recognises SA’s obligations in terms of international law pertaining to welcoming asylum seekers into the country. People who seek asylum do so because of the unbearable and often life-threatening conditions in their countries of origin. They do not leave their countries by choice or because they wish to cause harm in other countries.

ANC vs asylum seekers

Under the ANC, the application process for asylum seekers has been made far more difficult as a result of the closure of the Cape Town and Port Elizabeth reception offices, which has resulted in more congestion at the remaining offices. In addition to re-opening the two closed offices, the three other offices should be better staffed and resourced to increase their capacity to handle their case load.

In cases of renewal, the permit of the asylum seeker may expire before the return date, leaving them undocumented. Sometimes they are given stamps on the permit to indicate they have an appointment, although the stamp has no legal status. It does not extend the validity of the permit.

This makes them illegal immigrants. It also leaves the permit holder vulnerable to arrest as the arresting officers can decide on a whim whether to accord any significance to the stamp. Our country cannot continue operating like this.

The DA’s plan would fix this by eradicating the corruption and inefficiency that is endemic to the department at present. This will involve initiating a once-off investigation into corruption in the department led by a reformed Hawks. Any officials found guilty of corruption and/or fraud will be blacklisted and prevented from working for any state agency or government department. To address inefficiency, the DA would enhance and improve the systems and technology, capacity, and competency levels through adequate training to officials at home affairs.

The DA has the vision to open and protect our country in a globalised world and an increasingly integrated Africa with all the new opportunities this entails. We are committed to building one SA for all, where South African citizens, residents, refugees and immigrants can come together and build towards a free, fair and diverse society with opportunities for all those who are here legally.

• Julius, MP, is the DA spokesperson on immigration.