By | Migration Agent Sydney | 29 Sep 2015
The Christmas Island immigration detention centre is worse than jail, which is the view of 29-year-old Ricardo Young, who is among a growing wave of New Zealand citizens detained at the centre after his visa was cancelled under the Australian Government's stringent character test.
Mr Young has lived in Australia since he was four years old and regards himself as Australian. He has a partner and daughter in Sydney.
He finished serving a two-year prison sentence for aggravated robbery and assault on August 18. Three weeks before he was to be released he received a letter from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection advising him that his visa had been revoked.
Mr Young, who played lower-grade rugby league for the St George Illawarra Dragons, said it was his first time in jail and he had been looking forward to returning to his family.
On the morning of his release date, My Young was transferred from Silverwater jail to Villawood immigration detention centre where he was held for five weeks.
Then, on Thursday last week, without warning, he was transferred in the middle of the night to Christmas Island, about 5000 kilometres from his partner of eight years, Nakita Regan, and their five-year-old daughter.
According to Mr Young, the transfer was akin to a raid and was carried out by officers dressed in riot gear.
"They came at me at 3:30 in the morning. We were fast asleep. They didn't warn us and say get on the ground. They came in with batons and shields and just started giving it to us. I was scared for my life."
Mr Young is one of hundreds of New Zealand nationals whose visas have been revoked since the Abbott government amended the Migration Act to include strict new character test requirements in November last year.
The new measures, contained in section 501 of the Migration Act, provide for the mandatory cancellation of visas for any foreign national sentenced to at least one year's jail, or those convicted of sex offences against children.
As at August 31, 184 New Zealanders were being held on in Australian immigration facilities, according to statistics from the Department of Immigration.
The mandatory deportation of people like Mr Young, who have been long-term Australian residents with few ties to New Zealand, has sparked concern at the highest levels of the New Zealand government.