Phillip Thomson March 25, 2012
Eleven-year-old Aishik's parents Goutam and Debi have been told to expect to be deported, despite their son's Australian citizenship. Photo: Rohan Thomson
Eleven-year-old Australian Aishik Paul is about to see his mother and father deported and will soon have to decide whether he stays here.
In what is one of the longest battles by a foreign couple to live in Australia permanently, the boy's parents have failed to gain refugee status after 16 years and more than 80 bridging visas.
''What's the point of me having citizenship if my parents can't be citizens as well?'' Aishik asks.
He wants to stay with his parents. He wants to stay in Australia.
If he remains alone in Australia he will be taken into government care. To return to Bangladesh will mean integrating into a country he has hardly experienced and give up his schooling.
The Campsie boy is a leading pupil at the nearby public school.
He spends his free time kicking a soccer ball around on the concrete pad at the back of the family's rented house.
It is a home the family will soon be evicted from, and not only because his parents are about to be detained by authorities.
The bridging visas of father Goutam and mother Debi have expired and they cannot find the work to pay the bills.
The convenor of Migration Alliance, Liana Allan, said her organisation knew of at least six other similar cases across Australia.
The group argues Australia would breach its international human rights obligations if permanent residency was not granted to the parents in these cases.
One Sydney migration lawyer, Robert Balzola, said he had sent papers to Immigration Minister Chris Bowen last Thursday asking for ministerial intervention for the parents of a 14-year-old Australian girl facing deportation.
Mr Balzola estimated there would be a few hundred families facing a possible break-up because their mothers and fathers were not citizens.
The Paul family has had two requests for ministerial intervention rejected.
A spokesman for Mr Bowen said ministerial intervention decisions were not taken lightly.
''I cannot go into detail on specific cases for privacy reasons, however this case does have a lengthy history and is by no means straightforward,'' the spokesman said.
The boy's birth certificate says he was born at Camperdown's public hospital in 2000. His Australian citizenship certificate is dated June 4, 2010. His NAPLAN test results show he scored in the highest possible range for numeracy and language conventions.
The Paul family's immigration lawyer Christopher Levingston argued Aishik would have difficulty adjusting to life in either Bangladesh or India.
Minister Bowen did not believe that argument was strong enough. Nor was the argument that Mr and Mrs Paul had health problems which would not be properly treated in Bangladesh. A doctor's certificate for Mrs Paul says she suffers from a severe form of arthritis which would incapacitate her in Bangladesh. She receives biological treatment that normally costs $1700 but under Medicare is just $35.
The family's final hope is its complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission. The commission has not publicly detailed its stance but is investigating the matter.
Immigration Department correspondence to the commission says the government is organising the travel documents for the deportation of Aishik's parents to reduce the time they spend in detention.
The United Nations convention on the rights of children states the interests of the child should be a primary consideration.
In its letter to the commission, the Department said Aishik's nationality or relationship with his parents would not be harmed by the family going back to Bangladesh.
''Any decision by Master Paul's parents to return to India or Bangladesh without their child would be theirs alone,'' the letter said.