This week, we read about how tennis player Novak Djokovic’s case is related to Australia’s tough immigration stances, a new Supreme Court ruling that could help detained immigrants, and an update on the refugee admission freeze.
Australian immigration officials have revoked Tennis player Novak Djokovic’s visa. Although, harsh immigration treatment in Australia is nothing new, even for celebrities.
Australia’s stringent immigration practices have been widely criticized. In Djokovic’s case, his visa was revoked and he now faces deportation because he is unvaccinated against COVID-19. The tennis player traveled to Melbourne to play in the Australian Open. However, upon arrival, he was held in an Australian immigration detention center. Djokovic won a court fight allowing him to stay temporarily to practice. Yet, he is running out of time to appeal the decision before he has to play.
Australia gives ‘unusual’ and exclusive authority to its immigration minister. This severe approach stems back to Australian colonization in the 18th century. Policies established then set a precedent designed to keep immigrants and people of color out of the country. This policy, called the Immigration Restriction Act, was in effect up until the 1970s.
Since then, Australia has enacted other harsh immigration policies built to keep ‘others’ out. In 2001, the “Pacific Solution” policy sent asylum seekers to detention centers to islands off the Australian mainland.
For example, Journalist Behrouz Boochani fled Iran and was trapped on the islands for six years. He detailed the extreme and inhumane conditions and eventually wrote a book about the experience. The book received a prestigious Australian award. However, Boochani is not able to enter Australia to collect it.
Boochani escaped to New Zealand in 2019. Although the nations have close ties, New Zealand has protested Australia’s immigration policies, causing tension between the two countries.
This week, the Supreme Court heard two cases affecting detained immigrants. Often times, undocumented immigrants are put in detention centers with prison-like conditions for an indefinite period of time. The plaintiffs are advocating for bond hearings for immigrants held in detention for longer than six months.
“A citizen cannot be held without bail for any length of time. But here we are saying that a noncitizen who has not committed any crime can be held forever,” said Muzaffar Chishti, senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute (MPI).
The Biden administration and DOJ disagree with Chishti.
The lawsuit is centered around a 1996 statute that has unclear language. The debate is whether certain unauthorized immigrants should have to stay in detention for long periods of time.
Immigration activists are disappointed with the Biden administration for defending an ‘inhumane system’ that results in incarceration without due process. Immigration advocates have long fought for alternatives to detention and continue to criticize this practice.
Last year, the Biden administration put a temporary freeze on refugee admissions to prioritize resettling Afghan refugees. This week, refugee admissions for all will restart in the U.S.
This decision means that refugees from all over the world (not just Afghanistan) will once again be allowed to enter the U.S. once they have completed the necessary admission steps.
Resettling thousands of Afghan refugees put additional pressure on the U.S. immigration system which was already behind. The refugee freeze was meant to prioritize Afghan citizens in a time of crisis.
As of last week, 55,000 Afghans have been resettled while 20,500 are still in military bases in the U.S.
Advocates have worked hard to help and accommodate Afghan refugees during this critical period and will continue to do so after this decision.