Grandmother says deportation a ‘death sentence’

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A Perth grandmother is pleading with Australian immigration officials to let her stay. 

Linda Oppel spent most of her life in South Africa. Following her husband’s death in 2011, she moved to Australia to be with her sister, Monica Overholezer.

Overholzer moved to Australia 13 years ago and became an Australian citizen. She is Oppel’s only remaining relative, but Australian law doesn’t recognise this for a strange reason.

When she was 12 years old, Oppel was adopted by an older half-sister.

The adoption process meant that, unfortunately, Oppel was no longer legally related to her biological parents or her sister.

This loophole also means that Oppel was not considered a viable candidate for a Remaining Relative Visa.

Now 58 years old, Oppel has lived in Australia for the last six years, even receiving a temporary 457 visa to work here.

Oppel’s entire family now resides in Australia, including her two adult children and an infant grandson.

“I’m really scared to go back,” Oppel said of South Africa, which she deemed unsafe for women.

However, after her application for the Remaining Relative Visa was denied in May, Oppel was reluctantly making plans to return to her home country.  

That’s when immigration minister Peter Dutton heard about the case thanks to an article in The Australian.

“The lady involved won’t be deported whilst I’m looking at the matter,” Dutton declared on a Perth radio station.

“We are a compassionate country. We provide support to a lot of people and allow people to become Australian citizens or settle here permanently.”

Oppel’s fate will remain in Dutton’s hands until the case is reviewed, but there’s no word on how long this review will take and no guarantee of a positive result.

Do you think Linda Oppel should be deported to South Africa? Or do you think the law needs to be reviewed for her case?

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