October 18, 2018

Catholic family told to get out, weeks before Christmas

No Happy Australia Day: Ricky and Linda Morales and their children have been told they have one month to get out of the country. They say their application was knocked back because of a clerical error. The Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection has declined to assist them. PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

Christmas has been cancelled for a Kings Langley family-of-six after the Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Alex Hawke decided to not to intervene in their appeal for permanent residency following an initial rejection based on what they say was a clerical error.

Ricky and Linda Morales and their four children – parishioners at St Paul the Apostle in Winston Hills – received the shock news last week, giving them just one month to get out of the country after years of living on three-month temporary visas.

The decision was made even more devastating after they were last month prevented from travelling back to Singapore under the terms of their visa when Linda’s father fell suddenly ill and then died.

“I think I was just numb,” Linda told The Catholic Weekly.

“We’d been waiting so long. Then suddenly you get something like that.”

Ricky concurred, saying it had “been devastating for everybody”.

Linda and Ricky Morales. PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

“Linda’s father passed away last month, and we couldn’t travel back to see him.

“Now we get something like this just before Christmas.”

The Morales say their initial application contained an administrative error made by their then migration agent.

Ricky, who has been seamlessly employed in oil and gas since he arrived, received the news that his initial application had been rejected two weeks after he turned 50 – the cut-off age for applying for PR under a 457 visa.

“Everybody we met said you will definitely get an ok,” Ricky said.

“It wasn’t like we were sick and couldn’t get in and we were trying to appeal. It was just that small error.

“We really can’t get our heads around it.”

PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

Years of uncertainty have played havoc on the family, preventing them not only from unplanned travel but from buying a house and from pursuing further training in their professions.

Youngest child, Andrea, 19, has just completed her first year of university.

Their other three children – Gino, 23, Stephano, 25, and Emilio, 27 – are all gainfully employed and were hoping to advance in their fields through further training.

Responding to The Catholic Weekly’s questions, a spokesperson for the Department of Immigration and Border Protection said that the case has been “comprehensively assessed by the Department and the Assistant Minister”.

“Ministerial Intervention is not an extension of the visa process. A person who has been refused a visa and has unsuccessfully sought merits review is able to write to the Assistant Minister and request intervention, however the Assistant Minister cannot be compelled to exercise his powers and he is not required to explain his decisions on any case. What is or is not in the public interest is entirely a matter for the Assistant Minister considering each case on its own merits.

“The Assistant Minister only intervenes in a relatively small number of cases which present unique and exceptional circumstances.

“People whose requests for intervention have been unsuccessful and who do not have other matters before the Department are expected to depart Australia.

“It would be inappropriate to confirm further details, including individual circumstances, relating to this case.”

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