Australia Sets Deadline for Immigrants to Seek Refugee Status

Australia has set a deadline of Oct. 1 for about 7,500 people who arrived in the country by boat to apply for refugee status or face deportation.

The asylum seekers, many of whom arrived without identity documents, must prove they are refugees and are owed protection by Australia, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said in an emailed statement. About 50,000 asylum seekers arrived in five years under the previous Labor administration, according to the statement.

While the government will continue to provide medical cover, allow employment and school services, it would not provide income support until the application processes were finalized, Dutton said. Income support for asylum seekers cost Australia A$250 million ($186 million) last year, he said.

“The expectation is, if people can’t make their claim for protection then they need to depart our country as quickly as possible,” Dutton told reporters in Brisbane, according to a transcript. “We are not going to allow, given the level of debt that our country is in, for more debt to be run up paying for welfare services for people who are not genuine.”

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull last month announced tougher Australian citizenship rules and a tightening of temporary skilled migration visas in a further crackdown on immigration.

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