This year marks the 22th anniversary of Australia’s mandatory immigration detention system, which commenced in 1992 and applies to all who have an expired or cancelled visa, or arrive without a visa. Indefinite immigration detention of non-citizens is legal (Migration Act 1958 (Cth) ss 189, 196) until the relevant individuals are removed from Australia or granted a visa.
Detention is currently not subject to any duration limitations and many asylum seekers have been subject to protracted periods of incarceration. In 2010-11 there was a 43.7% final grant rate for a permanent visa with respect to irregular non-maritime arrivals. Furthermore, there was a final permanent protection visa grant rate of 89.6% for irregular maritime arrivals. Thus it is clear that a significant percentage of all asylum seekers and an overwhelming majority of irregular maritime arrivals become future denizens of Australia.
A film depiction of a Security Assessment of an “Irregular Maritime Arrival”.
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As of June 30 2012, some 1197 people in detention have been detained for over 12 months, with 453 of them being detained for more than 24 months (16.4% and 6.2% of the total detained, respectively).
An ASIO security assessment is not a requirement for the granting of a visa. However, it is government policy that security assessments regarding asylum seekers are done after they have been determined genuine refugees. Refugees who have had adverse ASIO determinations made against them cannot be legally admitted into the community, nor can they be legally deported. For as long as this detention continues for one of the purposes outlined in the Migration Act 1958 (Cth) refugees can be legally detained for the rest of their lives.
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