PETALING JAYA: The latest statistics on illegal immigrants in Australia reveal that Malaysians topped the list with almost 10,000 people overstaying their work or tourist visas, The Canberra Times reported.
This is from a total of 64,000 people who were in Australia illegally as of June 30. According to the Australian government, as many as 12,000 have been residing in the country illegally for more than 20 years.
Following behind Malaysians are Chinese nationals with 6,500 and US citizens, numbering 5,170. There are also 3,700 UK nationals, 2,780 Indonesians and 2,730 from India.
The government also revealed that 20,000 illegal overstayers had been in Australia for more than 15 years, earning the rebuke of an opposition lawmaker.
“Given that almost 20,000 illegal overstayers have been in Australia for more than 15 years, it makes a mockery of the border protection focus on so-called boat people and their lack of Australian placement,” said Senator Stirling Gruff, who is from South Australia.
“Most of these almost 65,000 would have travelled to Australia by air and the overwhelming majority have settled into Australian life, with little – if any – regard for our laws and responsibilities.
“The department stated that it was a fair estimate that 20,000 were also working illegally. That’s at least 20,000 illegal overstayers taking Australian jobs,” he was quoted as saying.
The Canberra Times reported Stirling’s remarks yesterday following a recent government briefing on the issue to an Australian senate committee.
The report said most of those who overstayed had come into the country with temporary visitor visas.
There were also many who came using student passes but went on to live in the country after these expired.
The report said 12,080 of the illegals were believed to have stayed in the country without valid permits for 20 years or more.
About 6,600 were believed to have overstayed by between 15 and 20 years, more than 11,000 between two and five years, and some 5,000 for three months or less, it said.
The report quoted Stirling as saying that better checks were needed to prevent temporary visitor and tourist visa recipients from overstaying.
He added that the Australian immigration and border protection department’s focus for arrests was on high-risk individuals and organisations, including rogue labour-hiring businesses.
“Given that more than 47,000 overstayers came here on tourist visas and well over half originated from Asian countries, there is a good argument for a greater degree of scrutiny,” he was quoted as saying.
According to the report, the department maintained that it generally did not detain people found to have overstayed if they worked with officials to resolve their cases.