Sydney parish battles DIMA over deportation

The Catholic Social Justice Group of Manly parish on Sydney's North Shore is campaigning on behalf of a Muslim Pakistani who has lived in Australia for 19 years but who faces deportation after a visa mix-up.

The Catholic Weekly reports that Muhammad Faruquie, and his supporters, who include the Manly parish Catholic Social Justice Group, are mystified by the determination of the Immigration Department to return him to Pakistan, a country he has not seen since he arrived here in 1988.

They point out that Mr Faruquie has not only been gainfully employed but was in a trusted position within the NSW Police Service when he was detained two years ago.

In 1991, Mr Faruquie went to the Immigration Department to report that he had illegally overstayed his visa by 2.5 years.

He was given a lecture and told to apply for permanent residency.

From then on he was continuously lawful for 13 years on various visas, one including work rights, until a gap of about six weeks in 2004 - an oversight or mix-up by his immigration agent - led to his detention.

He was then held in detention until he won release from the Villawood Detention Centre on a bridging visa in January 2006.

Six months later, to the surprise of Mr Faruquie's supporters, the Immigration Department then launched the process for his deportation.

Mr Faruquie has since launched two court actions to re-open his case for reconsideration, moves which automatically extend his visa until the hearings are complete later this year.

Manly parish's Social Justice Group chairman, Peter Cox, says the group believe his claims for permanent residency conform very closely with Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone's criteria for exercising her "public interest" powers in his favour.

"We've written as emphatically as we possibly can to the Minister," Mr Cox said. "It's a straightforward issue of natural justice.

"Yet we can't get the correspondence past the department's ministerial unit, which claims that the criteria are not being met."

He said one of the criteria is that "serious distress" is being caused to an Australian family.

"Muhammad's closest family - his brother and brother's family with whom he now lives in suburban Sydney - is distressed, to say the least," Mr Cox said.

Mr Cox said that for eight of his years in Australia Mr Muhammad worked for the NSW Police Service, including attachment to a high security unit, which is where he was when detained.

"Parish fights deport ruling on Muslim man (Catholic Weekly, 21/1/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs
St Mary's Parish, Manly

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18 Jan 2007