Deportation bill can affect 375 Australian born children

The Albanese government in Australia faces significant criticism over its proposed deportation bill, which includes provisions that could affect 375 Australian-born children of asylum seekers whose applications have been denied under the controversial fast-track assessment process. This process, initiated by the Abbott government in 2014, has been widely criticized for its limited opportunities for review and appeal, particularly because it restricts the submission of new evidence except in exceptional circumstances.

The fast-track system was designed to handle a backlog of asylum claims but has been denounced for its perceived unfairness and lack of transparency. Notably, the Labor Party itself has critiqued this system and has committed to abolishing it by July 2024, acknowledging its flaws. However, the current deportation bill could exacerbate the situation by imposing strict penalties, including mandatory minimum jail sentences of one year for non-cooperation with deportation orders.

This bill also grants the immigration minister enhanced powers to handle visa applications from countries that do not accept involuntary deportations. Critics argue that this could lead to increased separations of families and potentially violate international legal standards regarding the rights and welfare of children. There are concerns that these provisions do not adequately consider the best interests of children, contrary to international law norms, which prioritize child welfare in legal proceedings and state actions.

Advocates, including David Shoebridge of the Greens, express alarm over the potential human impacts of the bill, particularly the risk that Australian-born children could either be separated from their parents or deported to potentially harmful environments. The Human Rights Law Centre has highlighted that nothing in the bill prevents issuing removal directions that could separate children from their parents, who could then face imprisonment if they refuse to comply.

Despite these concerns, the Home Affairs department maintains that the measures are intended as a last resort and that the integrity of Australia’s migration system needs robust protection measures. Department officials argue that the bill does not fundamentally change who can be removed from Australia but instead strengthens the government’s ability to enforce existing laws.

As the bill progresses, it continues to generate debate over the balance between enforcing immigration laws and protecting the rights and well-being of children and families affected by these laws. This situation underscores the ongoing tension in immigration policy between maintaining systemic integrity and ensuring humane treatment of individuals, especially those born or raised within the country’s borders.

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