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FACTBOX: Australia's asylum seekers

CANBERRA, Australia -- The tide of illegal immigrants looking for a new life in Australia is swelling to record levels. CNN looks at the facts surrounding those who are trying to seek asylum by any means possible.

-- The most recent arrivals bring the number of migrants who have entered Australia illegally by boat so far this year to about 3,700 compared with 2,939 for all of 2000.

-- Approximately 75 percent of asylum seekers are ultimately granted temporary visas and released.

-- If the refugee can provide proper identification and do not willfully obstruct the application process, then their cases can be processed in three to four weeks, the Australian government says.

-- Eighty percent of asylum seekers are processed and released within 14 weeks. Appeals against failed claims lengthen the stay from many months to several years.

-- The mandatory detention policy has the support of the government, opposition Labor party and an estimated 80 percent of the Australian public, though it has been criticized by international and local human rights organizations.

-- Australia's department of immigration says Bangkok is part of an established smuggling route used by people from the Middle East and North Africa.

-- The make-up of illegal immigrants in 1999/2000 was Iraq (51 percent), Afghanistan (27 percent), Iran (5 percent), China (4 percent), Malaysia (4 percent), South Korea (2 percent), New Zealand (2 percent), Sri Lanka (2 percent). Other nationalities make up the remaining three percent.

Reuters contributed to this report.







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