Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has told the 7,500 illegal invaders in that country, who refuse to provide the government with any background details, that they have until October 1 to apply for asylum or be deported.
Speaking to reporters in Brisbane, Dutton said there were “7,500 illegal maritime arrivals who have refused to provide detail about their claim for protection. These are fake refugees [and] we aren’t going to tolerate that any longer.”
Most of the nonwhites arrived without identity documents on boats run by people smugglers up to seven years ago under previous Labor governments.
Dutton said many were residing in Australia on government benefits which last year cost around $250 million in income support alone.
“If people think they can rip the Australian taxpayer off, if people think that they can con the Australian taxpayer, then I’m sorry, the game’s up and we won’t allow people to take Australian taxpayers for a ride,” he said.
“We are prepared to support people who are legitimate refugees but we aren’t going to support people who are just accessing welfare and taxpayer benefits and then refusing to provide any information in relation to their protection claim.
“We are not going to allow, given the level of debt that our country is in, for more debt to be run up paying for welfare services, for people who are not genuine.”
He said until individual processes were finalized, the government would continue to provide Medicare support, allow children to attend school, and allow people to work, but it would not provide income support.
Dutton said the October 1 deadline is non-negotiable and any asylum seeker who has not lodged an application by then will be deemed to have forfeited their claim to protection.
“They will be subject to removal from Australia, prohibited from applying for any Australian visa, cut from government income support, and banned from re-entering Australia.
“The expectation is, if people can’t make their claim for protection, then they need to depart our country as quickly as possible,” he said.
The 7,500 invaders form part of what is known in Australia as the “legacy caseload”—those 30,500 nonwhites who invaded Australia by sea between August 2012 and January 2014.
Of the 23,000 who have applied for protection, about 9,500 have had their claims assessed, of which 6,500 have been formally recognized as refugees.
About 3,000 have had their claims for protection rejected. All of them are, of course, still in Australia, many having used free legal aid to tie up the state in the appeals courts.