Australia’s military crackdown on fraud visas backfires
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Australia’s military crackdown on fraud visas backfires

Australia’s Operation Fortitude, one of the latest campaigns of the Tony Abbott’s Government to crackdown on illegal aliens, has been widely ridiculed by anti-racist activists. The operation, set for the weekend, was announced on Friday morning, but was cancelled within 12 hours.

Various citizens and civic groups around Victoria arrived at Melbourne’s Flinders Street Station to show resistance to what they call paramilitary operation and racial profiling.

The Blackburner, an online satire news service run by the multicultural public broadcaster SBS,  has this lead-in story to ridicule Abbott’s latest border protection scheme:

“… the Australian Border Force has announced it will be pursuing a crackdown on brown people in the Melbourne CBD this weekend. Officers will be positioned at various locations throughout the city, stopping anyone who is “brown or brown-looking” to enquire about whether they have the relevant permits to be brown on Australian soil.”

The operation was announced to be enforced around Melbourne’s CBD on weekend. Authorised by the ABF (Australian Border Force), it includes intercepting suspicious-looking non-citizens at random. It could be anywhere – from trains to trams and other strategic venues.

ABF Regional Commander Don Smith announced, “we will be speaking with any individual we cross paths with….You need to be aware of the conditions of your visa; if you commit visa fraud you should know it’s only a matter of time before you’re caught out.”

Under a certain law enforced by ABF,  an officer is authorised to intercept anyone who is suspected to be an illegal non-citizen and asked to present personal identity papers such as passports and visa. The suspect is then required to comply with the request within a specified time frame.  The officer can also detain a suspected person “if the officer knows or reasonably suspects” the person is an overstaying non-citizen.

Human rights barrister Julian Burnside said he was not aware of anything in the Border Force Act which allowed officers to ask people to produce their visa papers on the spot.

The crackdown announcement was faced with embarrassing backlash. About 200 protesters arrived at Flinders Street Station holding up placards and chanting “border force off our streets” and “fuck off border force”. Melbourne’s CBD turned into chaos. At 2:30 pm, Victoria Police had to announce the government and the police force were backing down.

Independent MP Andrew Wilkie said Abbott is like former Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin. In a statement, he said, “Joseph Stalin would be proud of Tony Abbott.”

Just as East Germany’s Stasi would be delighted with the Australian Border Force — why, even [Chilean dictator] General Pinochet would be impressed.

Hugh de Kretser, the Human Rights Law Centre’s Executive Director, said “While common sense has prevailed, the events raise many questions. The legal basis for the entire operation and the sharing of information between police and the Border Force is murky.”

The ABF took effect on 1 July 2015 as the new front-line operational agency to focus on cracking down on the fraud visas of overstaying aliens. Combining the functions of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection and the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service, the ABF was created as a new Ddepartment.

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