Should VISA holders who commit crimes be deported from their host country?
Can the deportation of VISA holders be linked to ingrained racism in any way?
Check out my video response below:
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There has been a great deal of talk in Australia regarding the deportation of VISA holders holding criminal records. Recently the government announced that it will deport two young men with apparent links to the notorious Apex gang. Migration laws were altered in 2014 in order to give Immigration the power to cancel visas of non citizens who fail to pass a character test or have been convicted of a crime which involves incarceration of longer than twelve months.
These new laws were initially used to remove foreign born bikie gang members from Australia. Now they are being applied to any foreign born visa holder that commits crime. 19 year old Sudanese born Isaac Gatkouth was riddled on ice when he decided to a point a gun at a motorist during a robbery. He denies links to the Apex gang. Gatkouth moved to Australia at the age of nine years. He had a difficult upbringing and was raised by his sister and has not seen his mother since he was five. He recently discovered that his father passed away when he was a toddler.
A statement released by a Melbourne Community Centre spoke about the discrimination that is behind the deportation policy. The move to cancel the visas of alleged members of APEX or other street gangs is “inherently racist” It implies that ethnic background is a factor in crime. The Australian community is not taking responsibility and what these young men need a reality check, guidance and support. Focusing on their ethnic background is cowardly and prejudice.
I am unsettled by racism being brought into this argument. There is no racism in this immigration law. It treats every offender in the exact same way. Where is the focus on ethnicity in this legislation? If anyone is making this a racial issue, it is the media and certain members of the public. I decided to write this piece largely because I am so sick of situations being turned into an opportunity to indulge in accusations of racism.
This situation is far simpler than that. Both citizens and non citizens have to face consequences for their decision to commit crimes. Nations have more than enough to deal with in regards to their own criminal citizens. Why should they take on the burden of responsibility with foreign born criminals? If a visa holder commits a crime, they should be deported after serving their sentence. Deportation is the further extension of their punishment. Their country of origin is irrelevant and does not play a part in their sentencing. This sends out a clear message to all visa holders. If you don’t abide by the law of your host nation you will be jailed and deported. It acts as the ultimate deterrence.
This does not mean that I do not have sympathies for the context of certain offenders. Some say that the Australian community is not taking responsibility. The Australian government has to take a certain amount of responsibility, especially where Sudanese immigration is concerned.
In many ways I blame the government , particularly the John Howard government . In the early 2000s the Australian government decided to bring in a large amount of refugees from Sudan. This itself is not the issue.
What infuriated me was that they spent the time and money to bring people in, yet did not invest any significant time or money into cultural assimilation. The Sudanese came from a severely war torn country where violence is a normalized part of life. They needed extra special care and integration due to their background. Regardless, no matter what your context is, you know that it is wrong to stick a gun in someone’s face and rob them. Gatkouth’s background cannot be used a defence for his crimes. He and others like him do require guidance and support but where do you draw the line when you are dealing with a foreign born criminal?
Allowing them back into the host nation’s society shows far too much tolerance and leniency. My suggestion would be to implement strong central support and care systems for foreign born visa holders that can facilitate a successful process of societal integration. Carers should be available whenever a person feels lost or scared or in need of guidance. This is the only way to significantly reduce these types of crimes.