Tue. May 28th, 2024

Tania Was Totally Caught Off Guard: Flustered After Getting Booted Out Following an Epic Time Down Under!

Emily Hudson By Emily Hudson May22,2024
Key Points
  • 9,000 asylum seekers on bridging visas who were denied refugee status are worried about how a new bill will affect their futures in Australia.
  • Some community members say the proposed laws will impact not only asylum seekers but also 70,000 Iranian Australians.
  • The Deputy Leader of the Australian Greens called the bill “a prime example of institutionalised racism masquerading as immigration policy”.
Tania* (full name withheld) was six when she and her family came to Australia on a boat. Now, 11 years later, she says she fears they may be forced to leave.
“I’ve completely immersed myself in the Australian culture, and I feel more Australian than Iranian,” she told SBS Persian.
While at school on 27 March, she received a phone call from her mother regarding a new bill introduced by the Labor government that could potentially compel them to return to Iran.
“My mum was crying and told me they are trying to pass a bill which could send us back to Iran. It was quite a shock,” she said.

“I’ve been very vocal. There’s evidence of me online speaking out against the Iranian regime. If they were to send me back, it would be like having a target on me.”

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Tania and her family Credit: Supplied

‘They haven’t excluded us’

The Migration Amendment Bill proposed by the Labor government aims to facilitate the deportation of non-citizens who have exhausted all legal means to remain lawfully in Australia.
If passed, the bill would impose a maximum five-year prison sentence on individuals who refused to cooperate with the deportation process.
The Coalition, the Greens and the Senate crossbench joined forces to delay the legislation’s passage.
“This bill is a manifestation of the toxic politics of fear and division that have poisoned our national discourse,” Senator Mehreen Faruqi, Deputy Leader of the Australian Greens and spokesperson for Anti-Racism, told SBS Persian.
“It is another pathetic attempt to discriminate and criminalise migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers.”
A Department of Home Affairs spokesperson told SBS Persian that the government did not send individuals back to countries if they were owed protection, and the bill “would not change that”.
Tania is among approximately 9,000 asylum seekers on bridging visas who were denied refugee status under the “fast-track” process and are worried about how this bill will affect their future in Australia.

“They explicitly haven’t said they’re targeting asylum seekers and those with bridging visas. But we are still included in the bill. They haven’t excluded us,” she said.

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The Immigration Assessment Authority (IAA) and the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) handle different asylum cases. The IAA handles fast-track cases, while the AAT handles non-fast-track cases. Data on asylum seekers from six countries shows that the AAT’s success rate for asylum cases is higher than that of the IAA.

Daniel Ghezelbash is the Deputy Director of the Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law at UNSW.

He said his research shows that the process by which these 9,000 asylum seekers were assessed was unfair.
“When applicants feel they have not had an opportunity to have their protection claims fairly assessed, they may be more reluctant to accept voluntary removal,” he said.
Despite the name “fast-tracking”, he said the process was “not only unfair but excruciatingly slow”.
“The fast-track process was deliberately designed to limit applicants’ ability to adequately present their case, particularly at the review stage before the Immigration Assessment Authority (IAA). Decisions there were generally made on the papers without the opportunity for an interview or to present new information.

“We are concerned that the bill could still lead to people who do have protection claims being forced to return to countries where their life or freedom is threatened,” he said.

‘None of us will be safe’

Some community members say the proposed laws will impact not only asylum seekers but also 70,000 Iranian Australians.

Nineteen organisations and community groups in Australia led by Iranian Australians have launched a campaign against the bill and written an open letter to the public, the Senate, Parliament and Australian journalists.

“We call upon the Australian public to stand in solidarity with those who seek our protection and support. We urge the government to repeal this proposed bill and seek a more humane and considered approach to immigration,” the letter said.
Almost 3,000 individuals have signed the letter.
“The bill will not impact only one specific group, such as asylum seekers. It will impact family reunions, and it will permanently separate families, especially those who may have fled a conflict, war or oppression in Iran,” Rana Dadpour, spokesperson of the campaign, told SBS Persian.

“It will impact the Iranian Australian community as a whole. None of us will be safe. The community is really worried.”

‘God-like power given to the minister’

The bill grants the minister for immigration the authority to designate a country as a “removal concern country” if it is in the national interest.
This means that entire countries can be subject to travel bans, preventing their citizens from coming to Australia for holidays, work or education.

“There has been a great deal of criticism in recent years of the ‘god-like’ powers given to the minister. Decisions made under these wide discretionary powers lack transparency and accountability, and there are very limited options for appeal,” Ghezelbash said.

Macquarie University's Dr Daniel Ghezelbash.

Macquarie University’s Dr Daniel Ghezelbash. Credit: Macquarie University

He is concerned that this bill is “opening the door for arbitrary and politicised decision-making targeting unprecedentedly large cohorts of individuals, particularly with respect to the power to issue travel bans”.

A Department of Home Affairs spokesperson said the measure was “aimed at countries that do not work with the Australian Government to facilitate the lawful removal of their nationals” and that there were exemptions to “allow visa applications from close family relatives”.
“Designating a country would also have the effect of slowing down particular entry pipelines to Australia and may be useful in encouraging particular countries to accept the return of their own nationals,” the spokesperson said.
Countries that do not cooperate with Australia include Iran, Iraq, South Sudan and Russia.

“This kind of approach is in direct contrast with how the Labor government promised the Iranian Australian community to support them in their fight for democracy and against the Islamic regime in Iran,” Dadpour said.

“The approach that the government is taking is punitive. It is seeking to punish those people who are asking for asylum or protection in Australia from oppression or other disasters that may ground in their own countries.

“This is not according to the country’s human rights obligations.”

‘I grew up here thinking I was an Australian’

Due to the Senate blocking the Migration Amendment Bill, the vote has been postponed until May, and an inquiry will take place.

“The Greens were successful in delaying the Bill and pushing it to an inquiry,” Faruqi said.

A woman listening while seated in front of a microphone.

Australian Greens Senator Mehreen Faruqi speaks during Senate estimates at Parliament House in Canberra, Tuesday, February 13, 2024. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch) NO ARCHIVING Source: AAP / Lukas Coch

“This Bill represents the insidious ways in which power and privilege are wielded to perpetuate systems of oppression and marginalisation. It is a prime example of institutionalised racism masquerading as immigration policy.”

Dadpour is asking the Labor government for “direct consultation with the community and a very diligent process”.
“We understand the need to keep Australia safe for everyone, including the Australian-Iranian community. At the same time, I think it’s fair enough to say that this kind of amendment requires the input of impacted communities before making any specific decisions,” she said.
There is a public hearing on Monday in Parliament House with a panel representing African, Kurdish and Iranian community organisations.
Although the Senate has not passed the bill, Tania said it had already impacted her.
“I grew up here thinking I was an Australian. I didn’t think there was any difference between me and my friends. And now, all of a sudden, I’ve grown up and realised that I’m at a significant disadvantage,” she said.
“I’m disappointed and angry at the Australian government. This bill doesn’t apply to European countries. It targets those in the Middle East.

“What message is this sending to Australian society?”

Emily Hudson

By Emily Hudson

Emily is a talented author who has published several bestselling novels in the mystery genre. With a knack for creating gripping plotlines and intriguing characters, Emily's works have captivated readers worldwide.

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2 thoughts on “Tania Was Totally Caught Off Guard: Flustered After Getting Booted Out Following an Epic Time Down Under!”
  1. Will the proposed bill impact all asylum seekers on bridging visas equally, or are there certain groups that will be affected more than others?

  2. SophiaSmith is worried about the new bill and its impact on asylum seekers in Australia. As a supporter of human rights, she believes that these proposed laws reflect the underlying racism in immigration policy. It’s concerning to see how families like Tania’s may be affected and forced to leave the country they now call home.

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