Australia is considering new measures to deport criminal migrants as young as 16, following a spate of violent home invasions and street robberies.
A parliamentary committee chaired by Jason Wood, a Liberal Party MP from the state of Victoria, proposed the plans, which have the backing of party leader Matthew Guy.
The reaction follows four violent attacks in the suburbs of west Melbourne, including a home invasion in which a four men of African men smashed their way into a house, assaulted the 59-year-old woman inside, and held her down while up to ten cohorts ransacked the property, stealing or smashing several items and bashing down walls.
“She’s traumatised. I wonder how we’ll be able to stay here,” one family member told Australian press. “How are you meant to go back to normal after this?”
“They’ve got to do something; Daniel Andrews has to see we’re crying out here for help,” said another, referring to the left-liberal Labor Party politician who leads Victoria’s state government.
“Residents are scared and we’re looking out for each other, but we don’t even have a 24-hour police station.”
Police believe the same gang is linked to another home invasion from the same night, in which three men of African appearance broke into a house through a window, but were seen off when the residents armed themselves.
Separate incidents saw a 17-year-old teenager assaulted with a baseball bat while walking down the street, and a 16-year-old jumped by four men who kicked and beat him. Both were relieved of their mobile phones, with the latter being forced to reveal his passcode.
“These are horrendous offences; no member of our community should be a victim of these types of offences. This is incredibly concerning, the behaviours are abhorrent,” commented Victoria Police Commander Russell Barrett.
“It’s just thuggish behaviour by young people in our community who have no apparent care for the rights and well-being of their fellow citizens.”
Federal Minister for Home Affairs took aim at the regional government, remarking: “The longer the Andrews government fails to restore law and order in Victoria, the longer Victorians will suffer at the hands of these thugs.”
However, the proposal to strip migrant criminals as young as 16 of their visas and deport them from Australia has prompted fierce opposition from African community leaders.
“You essentially are cancelling young people’s visas to send them into misery when, in my view, these young people have significant potential to be rehabilitated,” complained Sudanese community spokesman Kot Monoah.
“You are also sending them to death zones and condemning them to death sentences.”
Richard Deng, another community leader, agreed, labelling the deportation proposals “out of touch”.
“We acknowledge there is a youth crisis but we all need to work together,” he insisted.
“Simply deporting people is out of touch. Keep in mind a lot of these people were born here. Many of these kids are Australian.”