DANIEL FLITTON July 19, 2012
THREE words told the man that Australia would never be home: ''You are removable.''
The Tamil man, from Sri Lanka, was taken into immigration detention on Tuesday to be deported, his application for asylum rejected, all appeals exhausted.
The man - who The Age has chosen not to identify - is one of up to 200 Tamils believed to be in the Australian detention system facing involuntary return to Sri Lanka.
His case highlights the difficulties that failed asylum seekers and officials alike will increasingly confront.
The Immigration Department has sent 88 Sri Lankans home since October 2008, when the latest surge in boat arrivals began. Of those, 73 went voluntarily, and the rest were told they must go.
''People who exhaust all avenues to remain in Australia and have no lawful basis to remain are expected to depart,'' a department spokesman said.
The man had arrived in Melbourne by plane in the middle of 2010, and in November that year was released to live with his sister, an Australian citizen. One of the requirements of his ''community detention'' was to report to the Immigration Department in Melbourne every Tuesday. Two weeks ago he was told to make plans to leave, and this week he was asked to come in early for his appointment. He was handed a letter.
''As you have no outstanding applications before the department you are expected to have made arrangements to depart Australia,'' the letter read.
''As you have not made acceptable arrangements to depart Australia … the department considers that you are removable.''