Australian immigration minister Peter Dutton has raised concern over some asylum seekers who have been found to have falsely claimed to be Coptic Christians just to be granted the right to stay in the country.
While answering questions on Sydney radio station 2GB about the imminent deportation of Coptic Christian refugees to Egypt next month, Dutton asserted that the government would not sent back true Copts to face persecution at the hands of the Islamic State. However, the immigration minister revealed that there were some asylum applications which have been found to be fraudulent, News.com.au reports.
"We're not going to send people back into harm's way, we don't do that. But we just have some cases where we're concerned about where the court, for example, has found that the application is fraudulent," said Dutton. "We're not going to ... deport anyone until we can have another look at each of the cases but in some cases we do have concerns about the legitimacy of the claims made."
Concerns over the deportation of Egyptian Christian refugees rose after ISIS killed 29 Copts in a bus attack in the south of Cairo a few days ago. The incident was the latest in the spate of violent and deadly attacks targeting Coptic Christians in Egypt since December.
Last month, Dutton announced that asylum seekers who are under the "legacy caseload" only have until Oct. 1 to file formal application for protection, or else they will be deported. The immigration minister explained that the deadline will protect Australian taxpayers from paying for the support of people who have no right to stay in the country, The Guardian reports.
The legacy caseload includes some 30,500 refugees who journeyed via sea to Australia from August 2012 to January 2014. Most of them have already applied for protection but there are still 7,500 who have not yet done so because they still have not received formal invitation or are still waiting for the immigration department to process their claims.
Dutton said Australia welcomes refugees, but the country's level of debt does not give them the liberty to pay for the welfare service of people "who are not genuine." The immigration minister added that the Oct. 1 deadline was non-negotiable.