A Sri Lankan woman has been deported while her young son remains on Australian soil, the Cairns Post reported on Monday.
Immigration lawyer Frank Lanza has said his client Nilanthi Senaratne was sent home late last year after a long-running battle to remain in Australia.
Her son, who attends primary school in Cairns, was allowed to stay with his adoptive grandmother.
Mr Lanza said his client had falsely claimed refugee status on the advice of an immigration agent who was later deregistered for fraud. “This was almost 10 years ago,” he said.
“He convinced her to make this application, which was totally wrong.
“We were trying to say the mistakes she made at the very beginning shouldn’t reflect her current position.
“In the end, the Minister didn't take that into consideration and said she lied about being a refugee.”
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton did exercise discretion in allowing Ms Senaratne’s son to remain in his birth country, Australia.
It was a decision that could throw Ms Senaratne a lifeline in a couple of years.
He can apply for Australian citizenship after 10 years as a resident, allowing him to request to sponsor his mother.
“Her application should have been one for a ‘last remaining relative’ visa,” Mr Lanza said.
“In my opinion, such an application would have had a good chance of being approved.
“As it turned out, she did not come to see us until after that application was refused and her application to the Minister was also refused.”
Mr Lanza described the situation as sad but said he was happy to have at least kept the young boy in Australia.
“It’s not the case she was handcuffed and taken away – she was given assistance with an airline ticket and put on a plane,” he said.
“She would have been glad to stay, of course, but she couldn’t because she didn’t have a visa.
“The boy, as far as I’m aware, is OK. He’s surrounded by the love of his (adoptive) grandma and he’s got an aunty in Cairns.”