Up to 325 illegal immigrants suspected of overstaying their visas are being reported each week via a special “dob-in-line” set up to weed out unlawful non-citizens.
As the federal government prepares to crack down on the estimated 100,000 illegal workers residing in Australia, it can be revealed that almost 17,000 calls have been made to the immigration dob-in [tell-on] line over the past year by concerned Australians.
Anyone from labourers working illegally on job sites to possible terrorists are being reported by the community.
The government is urging people to use the dob-in line to report anyone they suspect of breaching migration laws. People smuggling, fake marriages and businesses hiring people to work illegally are also on the list of activities authorities are asking Australians to call them about.
Over the last year 15,477 unlawful non-citizens were “located” in the community by immigration officers but it is not known how many of these ultimately were expelled from Australia.
Immigration Minister Chris Bowen yesterday applauded the success of the dob-in line. Information provided was a “valuable tool in maintaining the integrity of our migration program”.
“I encourage anyone with information about illegal workers, visa overstayers or visa fraud to call the immigration dob-in line on 1800 009 623,” Mr Bowen said.
“The Immigration Department collects and records all information provided.
“Officers will then investigate the allegations by checking records, conducting surveillance and carrying out site visits to locate individuals involved in illegal practices.”
The government has prepared draft legislation providing civil penalties of up to $50,000 and fines of up to $10,000 for the employment or referral of illegal workers.
Mr Bowen said the Migration Amendment (Reform of Employer Sanctions) Bill 2012 would be an essential part of the plan to stamp out illegal work practices used by employers and labour suppliers to gain a competitive advantage.
“Illegal workers undermine the integrity of Australia’s migration program, reduce work opportunities for Australians and expose vulnerable workers to exploitation.”