Daniel Love, a 39-year-old Aboriginal man born in Papua New Guinea, was released from immigration detention at the end of September, after his lawyers appealed to the High Court to stop a looming deportation from Australia.
Love is just one of thousands of Australian Permanent Residents who have been taken into immigration detention centres pending deportation under the draconian section 501 of the Immigration Act, introduced in 2014.
Many, like Love, have lived in Australia since they were young children.
Section 501 allows the Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton to cancel any visa on “character grounds”, usually following time in prison.
But cancellation of visas under s501 does not even require a criminal conviction. Discretion rests in the hands of the Minister to deport people at will.
Martin Hodgson, from the Foreign Prisoner Support Service, told BuzzFeed News that he becomes aware of an Aboriginal person in immigration detention facing a similar threat almost every month. Most do not realise they are not Australian citizens before being threatened with deportation.
These cases highlight the racism, injustice and unaccountable power that characterises the entire deportation regime.
The Home Affairs annual report reveals a recent, sharp increase in deportations of “non-citizens”, as the Liberal government has ramped up anti-migrant rhetoric, further militarised the Australian Border Force and thrown a shroud of secrecy over the operation of Home Affairs. In 2015-16 there were 4754 deportations of “non-citizens” and in 2016-17 the numbers jumped to 6948.
New Zealand citizens living in Australia make up more than one third of s501 deportations. Racism plays a strong role in the Department’s decisions, with at least 60 per cent of these people being Maori or Pacific Islanders.
Other recent, shocking cases include Gregory Cameron, a 57-year-old man deported earlier this year, who died homeless on the streets of Auckland last month, after being “dumped at Auckland airport” by Border Force with no support, a friend told NZ Radio.
Former Kiwi Rugby League star Richie Barnett, who works mentoring deportees said that, “these people often have no family ties or connection” in NZ, citing the case of a 17-year-old who committed suicide after being deported following time in a youth detention centre in Australia, where he had grown up.
By Paddy Gibson