Immigration stats: 64,000 living illegally in Australia

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Chinese Tourists
Chinese tourists take pictures of each other as they pose in front of the Sydney Opera House in Sydney, Australia, September 28, 2015. Reuters/David Gray

More than 64,000 people currently live illegally in Australia. The population of unwanted residents include an immigrant who has avoided immigration authorities for 40 years, though it is unknown if the person is still alive.

According to The Courier Mail, more than two-thirds of those who arrived on legal visas and have overstayed are continuously living in Down Under for more than two years. Of the 64,600 illegal immigrants, as many as 20,000 “unlawful non-citizens” are believed to be working.

Overall, the number of people living illegally in Australia on expired visas has surged by 6 percent compared to five years ago. Over 70 percent are in the country on expired visitor visas.

Fifteen percent of those overstaying are on student visas, while about 3 percent are on working holiday visas. The news outlet further revealed that Malaysians are the worst offenders for overstaying.

Based on Immigration Department figures, 9,440 people from the Southeast Asian nation are residing on expired visas as of June 30. It is followed by China, with 6,500 people overstaying in Australia. About 5,710 unlawful non-citizens are reportedly from the United States, and 3,680 people are from the United Kingdom.

Japan, Fiji, France and Germany are also featured on the list of top offenders. Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, South Korea and Vietnam all have between 2,200 and 2,800 illegal residents in Australia. A spokesman for Immigration and Border Protection said a regular “targeted field compliance” is used to locate people.

Shayne Neumann, Opposition Immigration spokesman, said it was “untenable” to have over 20,000 visa overstayers who have also become illegal workers. Immigration Minister Peter Dutton’s spokesperson said that some only overstayed their visa by a day or two. The spokesperson also pointed out that the number of people who are overstaying was less than 1 percent of the 6.5 million 6.5 million temporary entrants every year.

Last week, the government launched legislation that would provide the minister the authority to overrule the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) on citizenships. He now has the power to overturn AAT decisions on visas.

The change is part of an overhaul of citizenship rules previously announced by the Turnbull government. The news of overstayers comes amid Dutton’s battles with the AAT on some visa cases, like that of an Indian-born man residing here, whom Dutton’s department wanted to deport after pleading guilty to assaulting a woman. AAT blocked the deportation. For other news in Australia, watch the video below.

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