AUSTRALIA and America.
Their initials actually have the same letters, although arranged differently: USA and AUS.
Thanks to refugee and terrorism concerns, the two countries’ policies also mirror each other.
Four months before US President Donald Trump issued his controversial executive order banning refugees, visa holders, green card holders and immigrants from coming to the United States, Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton–as a member of Parliament–introduced a bill that would give the immigration minister the power to impose a revalidation check on visas for any “specified class of persons,” to be determined solely by the minister “in the public interest”.
The “Migration Amendment (Visa Revalidation and Other Measures) Bill 2016” was introduced by Minister Dutton on October 19, 2016. It is now on second reading at the Australian Senate after passing the House of Representatives.
The bill seeks to amend the Migration Act 1958 requiring the minister-specified visa holders to revalidate certain information on their current visas within a specified period to determine whether they are still eligible to use that visa, failing which, the visa would be invalidated for reasons of “public interest.”
Immigrant advocacy groups, including the Migration Institute of Australia, oppose the bill because it has the potential of giving the minister “unfettered power” over who held a visa in Australia, including long-term visa holders who have been lawfully living in Australia.
While the opposition party agrees to a provision of the bill regarding the use of SmartGate, a “contactless technology to clear travelers through the immigration clearance system,” the Labor Party fears the rise of authoritarian “Trump-like powers” to ban certain people from coming to Australia based on their nationality, race or religion.
Mr. Dutton rejects the comparison to Trump and the US President’s executive order also banning specified groups. He reminded the Labor Party that the bill was introduced long before Mr. Trump became President.
Last December 12, 2016, Australia launched a pilot program issuing 10-year ‘Frequent Traveler’ visitor visas to passport holders from the People’s Republic of China. Although valid for 10 years, visa holders would be required to revalidate the information that was provided when the visas were first issued. The visas were limited and cost A$1,000.
Who needs to revalidate their visas?
As the bill reads, the Immigration Minister may broadly interpret “any group of people sharing a common characteristic or circumstance.” A common characteristic, for example, may be any person who
• holds a particular passport;
• lives in a particular country;
• lives in a particular state or province within a country;
• may have travelled through a particular area during a particular time; or
• applied for the visa during particular dates.
However, there are no parameters guiding the minister’s determination of a specific class of person, and concerns have been raised that it could be broadly imposed on people of certain ethnicities, or religious or political affiliations.
The minister could refuse to revalidate a visa if the minister held “adverse information” relating to the person, or a connected group of people. At the time of writing, there have been no specifics on what constitutes “adverse information.”
Across the ocean, President Donald Trump vows to keep trying, saying he intends to sign a new executive order or rewrite the existing, controversial order, which suffered a defeat at the 9th District Appeals Court.
The White House and the justice department have several options available, not one of which would immediately placate Mr. Trump: 1) rewrite the order with modifications to overcome legal infirmities; 2) ask the Supreme Court or the full 9th Circuit to intervene immediately; 3) continue the battle in the lower, district courts (there are several pending), hoping for favorable rulings from other “so-called judges.”
If any or few decisions go in the Trump administration’s favor, then get ready for another pitch-fork battle, this time—hopefully—with legal grounds to stand on.
As with its almost non-stop barrage of alternative facts and fact-challenged claims, Donald and his Trumpeteers throw one “alternative fact” after another, hoping the fact-checkers would simply get tired or give up.
For those affected by the first–and, it would appear, flawed–executive order, here are the viable, practical options:
Visa applicants. If you have a Muslim-sounding name and have visited a Middle East country, be ready to explain the reason for your visit or stay. For non-Muslim sounding names, if you have not yet applied for one, determine if that intended visit is necessary. If yes, be sure you have not visited, worked, studied, or lived in any of the seven predominantly Muslim countries.
Nonimmigrant visa holders (tourist visas). If this is the first time you will use your visa, review the answers you gave to the consul when you applied for the visa. The information you provided would be available to the immigration officer at the port of entry. Your luggage should confirm the length of your visit. Having two suitcases or two balikbayan boxes could raise red flags. If you have been to the US before and any of your stays had been close to five to six months, be ready with answers as to where you stayed during your last visit and how you financed your stay.
Immigrant visa holders. Be aware of the validity of your immigrant visa, usually five to six months from date of issue. If your civil status has changed, such a material change could affect your eligibility for the visa issued which could result in being considered inadmissible or excludable (not eligible to be allowed entry into the US) For example, if you got married after being issued an F2B visa, you would be considered not eligible for this category since F2B visa applicants must remain unmarried until after being admitted into the United States. Also, if the petitioner passed away after your visa was issued, your visa would be considered automatically revoked or no longer valid.
Green card holders. If you have been in the Philippines for about six months, you must provide evidence that you have maintained your permanent resident status, i.e., you have not abandoned your residency, you remain eligible for the visa category from which you got your green card, and you have not committed any immigration violation or crime that would render you inadmissible as well. If you are referred to secondary inspection at a port of entry and asked to surrender your green card, you could insist to be admitted and argue your case before an immigration judge.
Guns they say do not kill people. People do. In the same vein, telecommunications and technology do not create terrorists. Jihadist leaders do. Telecommunications and technology do not create unemployment. Corporations do.
Social media became a recruitment tool for jihadists. Telecommunications and technology helped outsource jobs to countries with cheap labor. So what do we have now?
Brexit won as Leavers campaigned and won in the issue of immigration and refugee invasion.
Donald Trump campaigned and became the 45th US President also on the backs of immigrants, refugees and outsourcing.
Now Australia seeks to out-Trump the Donald.
While Trump’s executive order only bans individuals from seven predominantly Muslim countries, Australia’s immigration minister wants to have the “unfettered power” to bar individuals based on nationality, race or religion.
Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the Trumpest of them all?