Government launches crackdown on ‘criminals’ exploiting visa system

The federal government will crack down on migration agents following a review that found “unscrupulous” agents were rorting the visa system and that Australia’s migration system was being exploited by organised criminals for human trafficking.

The Nixon review examined the “almost industrial-scale” exploitation of vulnerable temporary migrants and international students amid a wider review of Australia’s immigration policy.

Former Victoria Police commissioner Christine Nixon found “abuses of sexual exploitation, human trafficking and other organised crime” due to loopholes in Australia’s immigration system.

Initial reform action announced

The federal government has committed $50 million to establish a new division and strike force within the Home Affairs department to boost immigration compliance, which will target organised abuse of immigration programs and resolve the status of people whose visa options have been exhausted, but who remain in the country.

Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil said the government would better coordinate compliance to stamp out exploitation.

“A permanent strike force, which will move around the immigration system and address the big problems that we see and make sure that the people who are responsible are routed out and held accountable,” Ms O’Neil said.

“We are making very significant transformation to the way that we regulate and make sure that migration agents in our country are following the rules.”

The Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority will have its resources doubled, and penalties for agents involved in misconduct will be increased.

Immigration Minister Andrew Giles said the authority would be empowered to impose conditions on unscrupulous migration agents.

Character tests will also be strengthened for migration agents, and Operation Inglenook — which has been identifying and supporting victims of trafficking in the sex industry — will be expanded to cover the whole migration system and be made permanent.

Operation Inglenook last month resulted in the deportation of Binjun Xie, who was previously implicated in a British human trafficking ring.

Mr Xie arrived in Australia on a student visa in 2014 but was later found not to be studying.

He subsequently applied for a partner visa and protection visa over a decade but both were refused.

Minister lays blame at former minister’s feet

Ms O’Neil blamed the previous government for a deterioration in immigration compliance, which she said allowed the system to be used to “perpetrate some of the worst crimes known to humanity”.

Source: ABC News Australia

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