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MORE than 60,000 foreign students and tourists are in hiding in Australia, as Department of Home Affairs officials admit they are “toothless’’ in detecting black-market migrants.
The department now wants landlords and childcare centres to verify visas before they let people rent a property or enrol kids in daycare.
And they are demanding tougher screening before people can open a bank account, get a driver’s licence or obtain a WorkCover licence to work on a building site.
An internal government report obtained by The Daily Telegraph warns “the power balance is tilted in favour of visa overstayers”.
There are now 62,900 illegal migrants in hiding, three quarters of them tourists and 15 per cent are students who refused to fly home when their visas expired.
A staggering 18,750 illegal migrants have lived in Australia for at least 15 years. A third of them have been here for at least a decade.
A quarter of the unwanted migrants came from Malaysia or China, but 5170 are Americans and 3680 are British.
The report states “temporary visitors to Australia are willing to risk remaining illegal as they are making far more money in Australia than they could at home’’.
“Even if they are deported, they still see an advantage in having had to opportunity to earn money in Australia.’’
It reveals that some illegal migrants are having families in Australia and “waiting it out’’ until their children turn 10 and acquire citizenship.
The report also says staff want more biometric screening at airports “to prevent re-entry under other names’’.
“Staff called for better data matching with the Australian Taxation office and Department of Human Services to identify and locate illegal workers in the community,’’ it says.
Home Affairs staff also want tougher fines for people who employ illegal migrants.
“There was a strong sense among staff in the Department that it is seen (as) ‘toothless’ by visa overstayers,’’ the report says.