Immigration minister Peter Dutton has given 7,500 people living in Australia until October 1 to prove they are genuine refugees, or face deportation.
Dutton has dubbed thousands of people living in Australia "fake refugees", who he says arrived illegally by boat and haven't been able to prove their refugee status.
"Those people who are fake refugees – people who are refusing to provide detail about their claim of protection… we are going to set a deadline for those people, and we have set that deadline for the end of this year in October," he said on Sunday.
"This is a very serious situation that's costing Australian taxpayers hundreds of millions dollars a year – money that could be spent on education, on health, on police, on other services in the community."
Of the 50,000 people who have arrived in Australia on 800 boats in the last decade, Dutton says 7,500 were "refusing to provide any detail – including in some cases even about their identity – refusing to answer questions about their protection claims, or indeed refusing to lodge those protection claims”.
"We aren't going to tolerate that any longer," Dutton said.
"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."
The immigration minister said the 7,500 people will be cut off from income support, but will continue to receive Medicare and children will be allowed to attend school until their refugee status is determined.
"The expectation is, if people can't make their claim for protection then they need to depart our country as quickly as possible," Dutton said.
Alice Workman is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Canberra.
Contact Alice Workman at email@example.com.
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