The Tamil family was detained by the border authorities in 2018 and has been fighting legally since then. The Labor Party plans to change some of the immigration policies of the previous centre-right government, but expects border action and detention.
The Nadesalingam family has become the face of Australia’s harsh policy towards migrants trying to enter the country by boat.
Priya and Nadesh arrived in Australia separately to seek asylum in 2012 and 2013 respectively. Friends say that the couple fled Sri Lanka due to persecution against the minority Tamil community.
Since then, the two have married and have two children who are born in Australia but are stateless. They live in the town of Biloela, 600 km north of Brisbane, the capital of the state of Queensland.
In March 2018, he was detained by Australian border agents after the government rejected his parents’ refugee claims. For nearly two years they were held at an immigration center on Christmas Island, an Australian territory in the Indian Ocean, before one of the Nadesalingams was sent to Perth in Western Australia for immediate medical treatment.
After years of campaigning, mostly by Billowella residents, the family was granted contact visas by the new Australian Labor government, allowing them to stay until final immigration status was determined.
Angela Fredericks, a resident of Biloela, said the community is ready to embrace the Tamil family again.
“The city here has once again just preached. So there are many offers of housing, job opportunities and home furnishings. Every thing So this family is really being supported and helped till they become independent, which I am sure, it will not take much time,” he said.
The new Labor government’s policy is to grant permanent, not temporary, visas to those who really need asylum. Experts say the policy could allow the roughly 19,000 people living in Australia who should have been deported.
But Labor also plans to maintain Operation Sovereign Borders, created in 2013, to allow the Navy to stop entering Australian waters and stop migrant ships. The regulation would also support the long-standing compulsory detention policy, under which so-called ‘illegal migrants’, including children, are detained while their asylum applications are reviewed. Activists want Australia’s new government to adopt rules with a more humanitarian approach. [ps/ka]