Australia’s highest court has ruled that two Indigenous men cannot be deported even though they were born overseas and never applied for citizenship, in a landmark ruling on Tuesday for the country’s first inhabitants.
The country’s conservative government has recently moved to deport hundreds of foreigners convicted of crimes as part of an immigration crackdown that can also leave dual-nationals stripped of their Australian citizenship.
Many people have been deported from Australia, sometimes to countries they had left when just children.
Daniel Love and Brendan Thoms were born overseas with at least one of their parents an Indigenous Australian citizen.
Both men had been living in Australia with permanent residency visas but had never applied to become citizens. Their visas were revoked after they were separately convicted in 2018 of crimes that carried prison sentences of more than a year.
Australia’s conservative government had sought to treat the men as foreigners and deport them to Papua New Guinea and New Zealand.
But in a 4-3 ruling, Australia’s High Court said the men must be treated as citizens and can therefore remain. Love still faces another hearing to determine his indigenous heritage.