‘She’s an idiot … but she belongs here’

Under laws brought in in 2014, non-citizens can be deported if they serve more than 12 months in total in prison over two or more sentences.

A Brisbane grandmother is being deported to Croatia, despite having lived in Australia for the past 50 years, after being convicted on drugs charges,.

The ABC’s Law Report has reported at length on the case of Maryanne Caric, who arrived in Australia as a two-year-old but will be deported under laws introduced in 2014 that make it mandatory for any non-citizen who serves more than 12 months in jail to have their visa cancelled. The 12-month total can comprise more than one short prison term.

Most of the deportations so far have been ones of New Zealanders, some with links to biker gangs, although there have been other reports of long-time residents also being deported. In December 2015, Ricardo Bolvaran, who spent 41  of his 42 years in Australia, was deported to Chile and in September 2015 a New Zealand woman who lived in Australia for 37 years was due to be returned to NZ.

According to the ABC, Caric, a long-time drug user and offender, has spent years in the Australian jail system throughout her life, but never became an Australian citizen nor obtained a visa. She was warned in 2007 and 2010 that further criminal convictions could result in deportation.

Caric is now close to finishing her most recent sentence and has had her request for permission to stay in Australia denied by Alex Hawke, the assistant minister for immigration.

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But Caric’s lawyer Jason Donnelly told the ABC that people such as his client often didn’t understand the warnings they received about potential deportation. 

Her sister Katrina, meanwhile, says of Caric: “She’s an idiot … but she belongs here.”

In January the Commonwealth Ombudsman criticised the government for taking too long to cancel visas, which meant people to be deported were kept for long periods in immigration detention centres after the prison sentence was finished, as well have having a harmful effect on their families.

Do you think these deportations are the right move by Australia? Should there be any leniency for people who’ve been long-time residents but not sought a visa or residency? 


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