An online petition has been launched by community volunteers asking Minister of Immigration Peter Dutton not to deport a Filipino family whose residency visa has been cancelled by the immigration department.
Parents Chester Chiong and wife Sarah and their four children have been ordered to show a ‘departure booking’ within the next seven days.
The Chiong’s family permanent visa, granted in 2014, was cancelled last year at the height of an immigration department crackdown on a visa fraud operation which led to the jailing of a DIBP immigration officer. [Story: Ten Days to a Dream]
The Chiongs had earlier been told to leave Australia else they face deportation or detention. The family is clinging to their last thread of hope – to be able to lodge a final appeal before the Minister himself.
The petition was opened via Change.Org, by Sister Anne, a volunteer in the community parish where the Chiongs regularly attend services.
The petition took off on Monday (28 July) even as the elder Chiongs appeared at the immigration office to meet an immigration deadline and re-appeal the status of their extended bridging visa that expired on July 28.
“We hope the Minister himself will hear our plight with just a few days left for us. But we are not losing hope, we are also grateful that the community has been voicing their concern for our family,” Chester told the AK via phone on Monday just moments after leaving the immigration office where he was told to present their departure booking by 4th of August.
The family’s woes started last year when Chester’s original visa application was found to have erroneous entries. His visa was one of more than 50 applications apparently processed by a DIBP officer caught in a visa fraud scandal.
The Chiong children are all currently studying in a public school. The eldest, daughter Sheen, is preparing for her HSC exams. [Story: ‘In a dreadful wait’]
“Erroneous entries on his visa application were not made by Chester Chiong, nor did he supply the information. Chester was always ready and willing to comply with visa requirements and conditions,” the petition stated (change.org – ‘Petitioning Hon Peter Dutton: Help save the Chiong family from unfair and unjust deportation’).
“He has worked full-time as a metal fitter since arriving in Australia and has a degree in Electronics and Communications Engineering. His daughter is now studying for her HSC exams this October. The entire family has fully embraced Australian life, establishing strong links in their local community.
“To severely punish the Chiong family for fraud by a corrupt immigration officer is unjust. Australia has a cherished reputation for giving everyone a ‘fair go’,” the petition stated.
Earlier a petition on paper with more than 600 signatures have also been submitted by the Chiongs to the immigration office.
Over 250 netizens have signed the petition over the past 24 hours.
“I believe that this family has been a victim of fraud, whilst they comply with all the prerequisites of staying in Australia. … Please let the family stay or at least get another chance to prove themselves. Given their contribution to the society, I think they’re worth it,” said Ej Dela Cruz (Australia), one of signatories in the online petition.
“I believe the children have as much of a right to Australian education as any other resident of this country,” said Isabella (Australia), another signatory.