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Life-changing Court Order for refugees’ spouses and children handed down, day before World Refugee Day

Today, the day before World Refugee Day, the Western Cape High Court has handed down a landmark Court Order that is set to radically improve the lives of thousands of asylum-seeking families across South Africa.
The Order, confirmed by the court following successful negotiations between the Department of Home Affairs and civil society, pertains to children and spouses of asylum seekers and refugees living in South Africa.
Wives, husbands, children and other dependents of asylum-seekers and refugees are able to document themselves in South Africa as ‘dependents’ of the principle asylum applicant in a process commonly known as ‘family-joining’. This aspect of the Refugee Act – outlined at section 3(c) – means that refugee families can be documented together, ensuring their rights to family unity and dignity in South Africa. As refugees cannot return to their country due to conflict or persecution, maintaining a family unit that is documented together is an important part of building stability and ensuring proper refugee protection in South Africa.
However, many applicants had experienced barriers when trying to join family members in this way. Wives, husbands, children, and other dependents of asylum applicants and refugees have been left with no way to document themselves in South Africa. They have been forced into an undocumented state, placing them in a position that is vulnerable to exploitation, detention and arrest.
In reaction to this, civil society organisations Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town represented by the Refugee Rights Unit at UCT, and Advocate Suzanna Harvey, took the matter to court in 2016.
The order confirms a set of Standard Operating Procedures which have been agreed on between DHA and the applicants. As such, dependents are now able to apply to be documented as either through family joining or in om their own grounds, upon provision of certain documents, where possible, such as a marriage certificate or birth certificate – regardless of where the marriage or birth took place. Affidavits are to be submitted in the absence of such documents. This family joining is to be completed regardless of whether the dependents were included in the applicant’s original asylum application or not. Should there be “serious doubts” about the validity of a parents’ claim over their child, DHA can request a DNA test, which will then be assessed and possibly funded by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).
Administrative nuances aside, the ultimate success of this case is that asylum-seeking and refugee families can now fulfil their right to access documentation in South Africa. With documentation, these families no longer need to fear arrest and detention, can work legally, and can enrol their children in school without administrative barriers.

SA’s visa regime hampering trade, tourism ambitions

China’s top diplomat in South Africa, Ambassador Lin Songtian, said Pretoria’s existing visa and permit laws for non-citizens do not support the country’s ambitious drive to double tourist arrivals. Picture: Jonisayi Maromo/ANA
Cape Town – China’s top diplomat in South Africa, Ambassador Lin Songtian, on Friday said Pretoria’s existing visa and permit laws for non-citizens do not support the country’s ambitious drive to double tourist arrivals and attract investors to boost the economy.
“The headache issue for the tourist and investor here … it’s very hard to get a visa to South Africa. His Excellency [President Cyril Ramaphosa] addressed that question last night [during the State Of The Nation Address],” Ambassador Lin said as he addressed journalists at the Cape Town International Convention Centre after the signing ceremony of more than 90 trade agreements.
“Given the size and scope of China-South Africa cooperation and bilateral trade … I’m sorry to tell you that you have only three visa officials in China. How can you expect one million tourists to come to South Africa? Only three visa officials in China, and we have long queues to wait for the visa.
“If it’s hard for them [tourists] to get a visa, that means you are refusing them to come. If they cannot come here as tourists, how can they come here as investors? So that question is not difficult, it’s a technical issue and I’m happy to be informed that the Honourable Minister of Home Affairs has already taken a decision to send more visa officials to China. I was very happy when I was informed this morning.”
Lin said it remains “more difficult for a foreign investor to get a work permit” in South Africa.
“It’s difficult for a high-tech company like Huawei … a leading company of technology in the world. Up to today, they complain to me again and again that they cannot get work permits. In my view, for such a high-tech company like Huawei, or a major investment like the Coega Automobile, it is very important to provide the necessary work permits to some of their key technical and high level management personnel.”
Lin said Chinese companies were creating much needed jobs for the South African population but that some of the executives had to be brought from China, a costly exercise for the entities.
Delivering his State of the Nation Address on Thursday night, President Cyril Ramaphosa said South Africa intends to double its tourist arrival to 21 million by 2030. Some of the ways he hopes to achieve this are through the renewal of the country’s brand and the introduction of a world-class visa regime.
“We will make good on our ambition to more than double international tourist arrivals to 21 million by 2030. This will be achieved through the renewal of the country’s brand, introducing a world-class visa regime and a significant focus on Chinese and Indian markets and air arrivals from the rest of our continent,” said Ramaphosa in Parliament.
www.sami.co.za

Man travels to S Africa on fake visa, deported

A Shahpur resident living in South Africa was deported to India after officials at the Johannesburg airport found that that his visa was fake. He is currently in custody of Airport police.

According to the complaint filed by immigration officer Narendrakumar at Airport police station, 33-year-old Aswat Mohammad had travelled to South Africa in 2011 on a visitor visa and reportedly took asylum there on the grounds of “weaker economic status in India and being a Muslim”. He then started working in Johannesburg on a work permit. There he applied for extension of his visa which was rejected by South African authorities in 2017. He told officials that he had given his passport to an agent named Altaf for visaformalities in South Africa who returned his passport with a visa sticker.

He lived in South Africa for around 18 months after that. He came to India in November 2018 and returned to South Africa on June 20 this year. However, during checking at Johannesburg airport, his visa was found to be fake. He was detained and kept in police custody and later deported back to Ahmedabad. There, he washanded over to Airport police. Aswat claimed he was unaware that the visa sticker he obtained from Altaf was fake. Airport PI K C Rathwa told Mirror, “We have registered the case and the accused (Aswat) will be produced in court.”

www.samigration.com

Trump Delays Mass U.S. Deportations for Two Weeks

President Donald Trump reversed course on mass deportations of undocumented immigrants on Saturday, tweeting that he had decided to delay deportations by two weeks “at the request of Democrats.” The announcement came after he had tweeted a stern warning ahead of the anticipated deportations of 2,000 people to be carried out by Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Sunday.
“The people that Ice will apprehend have already been ordered to be deported,” he tweeted early Saturday morning. “This means that they have run from the law and run from the courts.
These are people that are supposed to go back to their home country. They broke the law by coming into the country, & now by staying.” NBC reports that the I.C.E. officials will seek out families who are on deportation lists but have so far not said where the raids will take place. City leaders in Chicago, Houston and Los Angeles, which have large numbers of migrant families, issued statements protesting the plans.

What is Libra? A guide to Facebook’s cryptocurrency

Users will soon be able to send and receive payments across Facebook and WhatsApp
Facebook has finally announced its new cryptocurrency Libra, designed to allow the billions of users on its platform to send and receive payments without the need for a banking intermediary.
The token, which is a form of stablecoin and notably differs from the likes of Bitcoin, is specifically targeting those people who are unable to access traditional banking services, in a move that’s likely to prove a major disruptor in the money transfer market.
While it has been speculated for some time that the company was working on some form of cryptocurrency, tied to its own blockchain, until now, we’ve had very little in the way of detail.
So what exactly do we know about Libra?
What is Libra?
Libra, named after the Roman weight measurement, is Facebook’s new stablecoin that will let one user send a money transfer to another user across the social network. All that’s needed is a Libra digital wallet to send and receive funds – the system does not rely on any traditional banking methods.
Effectively, Libra is reminiscent of the buzz that followed Bitcoin when it first gained traction. Like Bitcoin, it is designed to function as an alternative to banking, specifically for people unable to reach financial services but equally for those who are distrustful of banks.
However, before you start recalling the wild price fluctuations of Bitcoin, Facebook’s cryptocurrency is a stablecoin, as we speculated would be the case in March. This means the value of Libra will be tied to fiat currencies, like the dollar or euro, and will, therefore, be protected against wild swings in value. It also functions less like Bitcoin, which is seen as much as a digital currency as it is an investment opportunity, and more like a digital token – it simply represents ‘real’ money for the purpose of a transaction.
How is Libra supported?
Facebook has been developing its own blockchain for some time, and has over the past year worked with partners to develop the Libra Association, an open source non-profit that operates the Libra blockchain and manages the funds tied to the Libra token.
Each founding member of the blockchain holds responsibility for a validator node on the network, meaning each organisation is in charge of ensuring payments are secure and accurate. If you want to find out more about how blockchain networks operate, we have an in-depth guide.
Facebook has established a subsidiary called Calibra, through which it has joined the association (and developed an app). Booking Holdings, eBay, Lyft, Uber, Spotify, Farfetch, and Mercado Pago have all signed up to the association, alongside payment providers Mastercard, PayPal, Visa, Stripe and PayU.
Telecoms providers Vodafone and Iliad, cryptocurrency platform Coinbase, and a number of venture capital and non-profit organisations have also signed up to the association.
It’s believed that each member was required to pay $10 million to sign up to the association and that it has around $1 billion to put towards the support of the new currency.
Facebook has said that although it was responsible for creating the Libra association and blockchain, the company will relinquish leadership of the group once it launches fully in 2020. At that point, each member will have equal voting rights as part of a council governing the Libra Association, the body established to help shape the direction of the association and Libra policy.
How do I use it?
Facebook is developing a standalone digital wallet through its subsidiary Calibra, the app for which is due to arrive at some point in 2020. This will connect to Facebook and WhatsApp directly to allow users to send and receive payments across the platforms.
It’s also likely that you will be able to pay for services provided by a handful of external vendors, including those already signed up to the association. It’s possible you will be able to pay for Uber and Lyft rides using your Calibra wallet app, as well as Spotify subscriptions.
Facebook will make money from Libra by placing a charge on each transfer, much like how cryptocurrency exchanges operate. However, it has also indicated that these charges could be transferred to the vendor, and it will be up to them whether they recover these from users or absorb them as part of the service.
Will Libra be safe?
Facebook has said that Libra will use “all the same verification and anti-fraud processes that banks and credit cards use, and we’ll have automated systems that will proactively monitor activity to detect and prevent fraudulent behavior”.
The Libra blockchain is also said to be immune from issues such as double spending, where a user may attempt to trick the network that funds had been sent when in fact they haven’t. It does this by using what it calls the LibraBFT protocol, which allows any user on the network to see what transactions have taken place and look for anomalies.
Facebook has also said that a live support system will be in place to help users with problems such as lost devices or passwords. It has also guaranteed that if your digital wallet is compromised, any lost tokens will be refunded to your account.
Libra will also benefit from having an open source foundation, which includes the code for its blockchain. This means that a community of security researchers and developers will be able to constantly assess the network for vulnerabilities and advise on updates as and when they are needed. Facebook has also confirmed there will be a bug bounty scheme attached to the ongoing maintenance of the network.

Irish parents and their Australian son remain hopeful they won’t be deported

IrishCentral – 21 June 2019
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The Hyde family’s petition to stay in Australia has gained over 112,00 signatures
Anthony and Christine Hyde and their 3-year-old Australian-born son are set to be deported back to Ireland on June 18 unless government officials intervene.
Despite being born in Australia, 3-year-old Darragh’s cystic fibrosis diagnosis has been deemed a “financial burden” to the Australian taxpayer, and the family has been denied permanent residency.
The Irish couple had begun their application for permanent Australian residency in 2015, not long before Darragh was born. While Anthony and Christine satisfied all of their requirements for residency, their newborn son did not due to his cystic fibrosis.
Nine News Australia reports: “A child born in Australia does not automatically become a citizen unless their parents are already citizens. Under Australian immigration rules, children born in Australia are not eligible to apply for citizenship until they are 10 years old.”
In May, Tony, a bus driver, and Christine, an elementary school teacher, lost their deportation appeal which means their visas will expire on June 18. A tribunal has referred the matter back to the Australian Minister of Home Affairs Peter Dutton, who can exercise discretion on the case.
On May 22, Christine wrote on the family’s petition site: “Because our visa application has been refused we now only have until the 18th June for the Minister to intervene. We are waiting on clarification on the exact date as to when our bridging visa will end.”
The Hyde family hopes they’ll be able to stay in Australia (Christine Hyde /Change.org)
“The only home our son knows”
Darragh now takes the drug Kalydeco for his cystic fibrosis which costs $300,000 per patient per year – through Australian healthcare, the Hydes only pay $40 a month for the prescription drug.
“Being on that drug for Darragh is almost reversing the impact of CF for him. It means he will go on to live a normal life,” Christine told Yahoo News Australia.
“I get that’s why it’s expensive. But I also think we do a fair job of giving back.” Christine, who received her Master’s Degree in Australia and is the acting Assistant Principal at a local elementary school, regularly volunteers within the family’s adopted community.
“We’re not a family who sponge off people. My son will go on to do work, he’s not going to stay home, I can tell you that. I believe we have good ethics.”
Christine insists on the family’s petition that Darragh “has been doing extremely well” and that they have received “positive letters from his doctors and specialists.” She adds: “Australia is the only home our son knows.”
Darragh Hyde has never been outside of Australia (Christine Hyde / Change.org)
Still hopeful
The online petition launched by Christine Hyde has gained nearly 113,000 signatures as of Monday morning.
The Hyde family has since received the support of Premier Daniel Andrews, who has called upon the Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton to show “some compassion and some common sense” on the matter:
On June 9, Christine wrote on the petition’s website: “We are still waiting for a decision of the department of immigration. This is for our case to be considered by the minister. Please keeping sharing. Thank you so much !!!”
7News Australia spoke with the Hydes about their situation:

Court ruling will legalise dependents of asylum seekers

Scalabrini Centre hails court order as life-changing for refugees

The Scalabrini Centre, represented by the Refugee Rights Unit at the University of Cape Town went to court in 2016 to get Home Affairs to allow dependents of asylum seekers to legalise their status. Photo: Tariro Washinyira
On Wednesday, the Western Cape High Court handed down a court order that allows the dependents of asylum seekers and refugees to legalise their status in South Africa in a process known as ‘family-joining’. Dependents are defined as spouses, children and other dependents of asylum seekers.
In a statement released on Wednesday, the Scalabrini Centre hailed the court order as “life-changing”.
The Scalabrini Centre, represented by the Refugee Rights Unit at the University of Cape Town and Advocate Suzanna Harvey, took the matter to court in 2016.
The organisation said that many applicants had experienced barriers in the family joining process.
“Wives, husbands, children, and other dependents of asylum applicants and refugees have been left with no way to document themselves in South Africa. They have been forced into an undocumented state, placing them in a position that is vulnerable to exploitation, detention and arrest,” said the statement.
“With documentation, these families no longer need to fear arrest and detention, can work legally, and can enrol their children in school without administrative barriers,” it said.
“As refugees cannot return to their country due to conflict or persecution, maintaining a family unit that is documented together is an important part of building stability and ensuring proper refugee protection in South Africa,” the statement said.
The organisation said, “Dependents are now able to apply to be documented as either through family joining or on their own grounds. Certain documents need to be provided where possible, such as a marriage certificate or birth certificate. This is regardless of where the marriage or birth took place and affidavits are to be submitted in the absence of such documents.
“This family joining is to be completed regardless of whether the dependents were included in the applicant’s original asylum application or not. Should there be ‘serious doubts’ about the validity of a parents’ claim over their child, DHA can request a DNA test,” said the Scalabrini Centre.
On Friday, Home Affairs spokesperson said the order was based on an agreement between the department, Scalabrini and the UNHCR.
“Refugees and asylum seekers were never denied this right if they had complied with the processes on arrival in the country. Problems arose when a person would go to our centre and claim that he or she is no longer single but married, or where people would say they have children but had forgotten to declare that they had children on their application,” he said.
www.samigration.com

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