Victorian Police canceled visa checks in Melbourne this weekend. There were massive protests in the city on Friday for fear of racial discrimination.
Australian police have canceled visa checks in Melbourne.
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The Australian Border Force (ABF) was scheduled to conduct visa checks this weekend. This is part of Operation Fortitude, per ABC.net.au's Eliza Borrello.
ABF planned to scatter its officers all over Melbourne, per ABC.net.au.
DiStefano spoke with an ABF spokesperson. He said Operation Fortitude would be a "referral" system. Here, the police will notify immigration officers if they catch anybody suspicious.
Don Smith is the ABF regional commander for Victoria and Tasmania. He cautioned violators about the repercussions of their actions, per Borrello.
"You need to be aware of the conditions of your visa," Smith said in a statement. "If you commit visa fraud you should know it's only a matter of time before you're caught out."
Smith's team will work with various transport and enforcment agencies, per ABC.net.au.
The ABF statement says the crackdown is in the best interests of the city, per Borrello:
"Tonight and tomorrow evening (Friday and Saturday), Metro Trains, Yarra Trams, the Sheriff's Office, Taxi Services Commission and the ABF will join Victoria Police as part of the inter-agency operation.
"With a particular focus on people travelling to, from and around the CBD, the group of agencies will work together to support the best interests of Melburnians, targeting everything from anti-social behaviour to outstanding warrants."
Protesters opposed the move. They demonstrated along Flinders Street Station at 2 p.m. Melbourne time on Aug. 28, per ABC.net.au.
Borrello obtained a statement from an immigration spokesperson. He confirmed officers will not check on random strangers in the streets.
"To be clear, ABF does not and will not stop people at random in the streets," the statement reads. "The ABF does not target on the basis of race, religion or ethnicity."
The ABF does not and will not stop people at random in the streets & does not target on the basis of race, religion, or ethnicity 3/4— ABF (@AusBorderForce) August 28, 2015
Police in Victoria assured the city's transport system will be safe, per ABC.net.au.
Borrello cites Australia's Migration Act. She says "an officer may require a person who the officer knows or reasonably suspects is a non-citizen to show their ID or their proof of citizenship or visa."
Adam Brandt is a Federal Member for Melbourne. He said ABF's operation might result in racial discrimination, per Borrello:
"The Border Force's plan to station their officers around the CBD and ask questions of 'any individual we cross paths with' is worrying, because it could threaten Melbourne's reputation as a welcoming city.
"How will the Border Force distinguish between locals, visitors and visa holders? Will every person in Melbourne now be asked to show their papers as they move about the city? Or will they only be stopping people with certain skin colours?
"Melbourne shouldn't be a place where a government officer can stop you in the street and demand to see your papers because you're suspected of being a foreigner."
Opposition leader Bill shorten has an opposing viewpoint. He praised the Australian government's crackdown on illegal immigrants. He's not too sure about its media campaign, per ABC.net.au.
"I do hope any of these actions are done to try and protect Australian laws, to make sure that people are not overstaying their visas, to make sure that temporary guest workers are not being exploited," he said.
For now, Victoria Police have called off Operation Fortitude.
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