Politics

“This Is What Deportation Looks Like”: Waleed Aly Reveals The Reality Of Life For Asylum Seekers

"We hear about deportation and the threat asylum seekers face all the time," he said. "We're almost desensitized to it. Usually it’s in reference to nameless, faceless people. But these are those people."

The Project -- Waleed Aly

By now, you have probably heard the story of a Tamil asylum seeker family, torn from their Biloela homes in a March dawn raid and threatened with deportation due to a visa that had expired one day.

Priya, Nades and their two young daughters Kopika and Tharunicaa were removed from a Melbourne detention centre and forcibly loaded onto a plane due to Sri Lanka. While the plane was in the air, an interim injunction secured them more time, and they were returned to Australia — though it is not clear for how long.

The story has been covered extensively in the news. But in the process, some of the human factor has been obscured. Priya, Nades, Kopika and Tharunicaa have become names on a page, not real life human beings.

Last night, in a sobering monologue, Waleed Aly of The Project tried to change that.

“We hear about deportation and the threat asylum seekers face all the time,” he said. “We’re almost desensitized to it — it’s a sentence in a newspaper, a comment on TV. Usually it’s in reference to nameless, faceless people. But these are those people. And this is exactly what deportation looks like.”

At that point, Aly cut to footage taken by Priya and Nades of the heartbreaking moment they were separated from their screaming children.

“I get that the government is saying that they don’t face danger going back,” Aly said after the footage had aired. “Whatever you think about that, they clearly think they do. So can you imagine being on that plane, thinking about what you’re going back to? … I can’t imagine how hard that is.”

“They are part of the fabric of that community,” Lisa Wilkinson added. “They believe that they contribute in a really meaningful way. They want them there.”

“Surely after watching that footage, as a minister you go, ‘I think this is what discretion is all about,'” added Tom Tilley.

It remains to be seen how ministers will react to the story.