Family of Tamil asylum seekers on Christmas Island not considered for resettlement in New Zealand or United States

A family of Tamil asylum seekers detained on Christmas Island will not be resettled in New Zealand or the United States despite the Australian government previously indicating it was a possibility.

Australian Border Force officials removed the family from the regional Queensland town of Biloela in 2018 after their visas expired, and they have been on Christmas Island since 2019.

But three-year-old Tharnicaa Murugappan was recently medically evacuated to Perth Children’s Hospital after becoming seriously ill, prompting renewed calls for the government to help the family.

Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said the family were not legally considered refugees.

“In relation to resettlement options, the arrangements that we have in place with the United States and New Zealand are in respect to refugees,” she told 4BC radio on Thursday.

“This family does not have refugee status.”

Family of Tamil asylum seekers on Christmas Island not considered for resettlement in New Zealand or United States

Camera IconTharnicaa is being treated at Perth Children’s Hospital. Credit: Supplied

Foreign Minister Marise Payne had previously suggested the US and New Zealand were possibilities for the family, but Ms Andrews said those countries were not options.

“The family does not have access to those two programs because they are for resettlement of refugees,” Ms Andrews said.

However, she avoided directly answering a question about whether Ms Payne was wrong to raise the possibility.

The family’s case remains before the courts.

“They don’t have refugee status and that has been upheld every time that there’s been an application before the courts for those particular family members,” Ms Andrews said.

“That means there is no obligation for us to provide protection to them, which means that they should be returning to their home country of Sri Lanka.

“They do currently have an application before the courts and there’s other actions that are being taken by the family. That needs to take its time to proceed.”

Ms Andrews also rejected any suggestion that the sick girl had been denied appropriate medical care on Christmas Island.

“What I’ve been advised by Border Force is that there is access to medical support on Christmas Island – that the family has access to that – and as soon as it was recommended that there be an evacuation to a Perth facility that happened,” she said.

“So the appropriate action, I believe, has been taken by Border Force.”

Ms Andrews said she wished the young girl a very quick recovery.

“Her health is the primary concern … I believe she is getting the best care possible for her at the moment,” she said.

“We are doing all we can to make her and her mother, who is with her, comfortable.”

News Related


Passengers on MSC Seaside cruise ship test positive for coronavirus, disembark in Sicily

Two passengers on board MSC Cruises’ Seaside ship tested positive for the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, disembarking Tuesday during a scheduled port call at Siracusa, a city in Sicily, Italy. Both passengers were… Read more »

When are Canadian borders reopening? City officials say restrictions could ease this month

After 15 months of strict travel restrictions along its southern border, the Canadian government could be loosening its border restrictions in just two weeks, according to city officials. A virtual meeting between Canadian… Read more »

Have COVID vaccine, will travel: These are the countries open to fully vaccinated Americans

As vaccination levels continue to rise in the U.S. and around the world, countries that had been off limits to foreigners for more than a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic are beginning… Read more »

American Airlines CEO attends Southwest Airlines flight attendant's wedding

American Airlines CEO Doug Parker attended a Black Southwest Airlines flight attendant’s wedding, who discussed race on a flight with him last year. Read more »

CDC issues cruise restart guidelines governing face masks, social distancing

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated its Operations Manual for cruise ship operators, setting a series of rules such as mask wearing, social distancing and a restriction on independent… Read more »

Carnival Cruise Line aims for July restart from Florida and Texas, cancels other sailings through July

Carnival Cruise Line, Carnival Corp.’s flagship line, announced schedule shifts Tuesday, canceling some cruises as it jockeys to restart some sailings in U.S. waters in July on select ships. “Carnival hopes to begin… Read more »

CDC loosens mask requirement for COVID-vaccinated cruise passengers

In a major win for vaccinated cruise fans, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its Conditional Sailing Order on Wednesday to loosen mask-wearing requirements for fully vaccinated cruise passengers. The… Read more »

Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Carnival cruise lines announce plans to resume cruising this summer in Alaska, Florida, Texas

Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line and Carnival Corp. lines Princess Cruises, Holland America Line and Carnival Cruise Line announced plans to resume cruising this summer, including some voyages to Alaska… Read more »

New York to London in 3 ½ hours? United says it'll be possible with new supersonic jet

United Airlines hopes to zoom travelers across the globe in half the time it takes today with an order for new supersonic jets. But don’t expect to book the sure-to-be pricey flights, à… Read more »

Millions fly for Memorial Day weekend as US sees busiest days of pandemic air travel

Memorial Day weekend has produced the two busiest days for U.S. air travel since early March 2020. About 1.96 million people passed through U.S. airport security checkpoints on Friday, and 1.90 million did… Read more »

With mask scofflaws, fights on planes on the rise, Pete Buttigieg urges air travelers to respect mask mandate, flight crews

WASHINGTON – Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on Sunday urged travelers to respect flight attendants and other crew members who enforce federal mask mandates on planes, pledging strict federal enforcement against such abuse at… Read more »

Ex-Southwest Airlines pilot sentenced for exposing himself, watching porn on flight

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – A retired Southwest Airlines pilot was sentenced to probation Friday after pleading guilty to exposing himself to a female first officer and watching pornography on a laptop during a… Read more »

American Airlines won't offer booze in economy until September, points to violent incidents

American Airlines won’t resume alcohol sales in its main cabin until September. An internal memo to flight attendants Saturday says economy passengers will have to wait until at least Sept. 13 before they… Read more »

Southwest Airlines postpones return of alcohol sales after incidents with unruly passengers

Southwest Airlines has ditched its plans to resume alcohol sales in June and July given a spike in in-flight incidents, including a an altercation between a flight attendant and passenger that sent the… Read more »

Southwest Airlines bans passenger who 'seriously assaulted' flight attendant

Southwest Airlines has permanently banned the 28-year-old passenger accused of striking a flight attendant on a Sacramento, California, to San Diego flight Sunday. The flight attendant’s union said she lost two teeth. Sonya… Read more »

Yes, airports will be mobbed. No, masks aren't optional. What to know about summer flights

A Southwest Airlines flight attendant delivered good news to passengers boarding the Providence, Rhode Island, to Chicago flight in mid-May. “We’re not going to be completely full on this flight,” he said, directing… Read more »

Southwest Airlines passenger who allegedly struck flight attendant charged with felony battery

A Southwest Airlines flight attendant was assaulted by a passenger over the weekend and lost two teeth, according to a letter the flight attendants union sent to the airline’s CEO Monday in an… Read more »

United Airlines is giving away a chance to win free flights for a year — if you're vaccinated

United Airlines joined other companies in promoting COVID-19 vaccines by giving customers enrolled in its loyalty program a chance to win free flights for a year if they share proof of vaccination. The… Read more »

Mask fights and BYOB breaches: FAA proposes $64,500 in fines against five unruly airline passengers

When the Federal Aviation Administration says it has zero tolerance for airline passengers behaving badly, it means business. In what has become a weekly occurrence, the agency on Monday proposed fines totaling $64,500… Read more »

New airline Breeze Airways takes off with $39 fares, no middle seats and nonstop flights to smaller cities

Breeze Airways, a new budget airline from the founder of JetBlue, took off Thursday with flights concentrated in the southeastern U.S. The airline, whose launch was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic that devastated… Read more »

TSA tells Salt Lake City passengers no guns in carry-ons after finding 50 firearms in 2021

SALT LAKE CITY — A travel security agency said there was an increase in the number of guns detected at security checkpoints at Salt Lake City International Airport, even as air travel declined… Read more »

FAA seeks $100,000 in fines from travelers who have tried to open a cockpit, hit a flight attendant, refused masks

WASHINGTON – Federal regulators are continuing to pursue large penalties against a few airline passengers accused of disrupting flights. The Federal Aviation Administration said this week that it would seek fines totaling more… Read more »

Southwest Airlines is bringing alcohol (and coffee) back to flights this summer

Southwest Airlines passengers have been peppering the airline for months with questions about when it will start selling alcoholic beverages again after suspending the service during the pandemic. On Thursday, the nation’s largest… Read more »

JetBlue to start US flights to London later this summer with fares starting at $599

JetBlue Airways said Wednesday it will start transatlantic service late this summer, competing against bigger rivals on the lucrative route between New York and London. The New York-based airline said it will start… Read more »

Europe is reopening to American vacationers after a pandemic travel ban. Here's what we know.

Summer vacations in Europe are a step closer to reality after European Union representatives on Wednesday agreed to ease travel restrictions for vaccinated visitors and any traveler from countries where COVID-19 is under… Read more »

Even vaccinated people still have to wear masks on planes and in airports. Here's why

Fully vaccinated people do not have to wear masks indoors or out, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said, but that relaxed guidance hasn’t changed how you travel through airports. Don’t… Read more »

Delta Air Lines will require COVID-19 vaccine for new hires

Delta Air Lines will require new employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 starting Monday. The airline won’t impose the same requirement on current employees, more than 60% of whom are vaccinated, a Delta… Read more »

Vaccine passports: How to prove you've gotten your COVID-19 shots for travel and avoid scams

Beth Marcus wants a vaccine passport. She’s had both of her shots but can’t prove it. Unless she can, she’s afraid she may not be allowed to visit Europe. How do you get… Read more »

How to submit content

COLUMNS The USA TODAY Opinion section publishes analysis, argument and essays on a wide variety of subjects. We’re looking for timeliness (pegged to news), persuasion pitched to the other side, new information, novel… Read more »

Celebrate with pride: Visit these sites where LGBTQ history was made

This nation celebrates Pride Month every June to mark the anniversary of New York’s Stonewall riots, a seminal moment in LGBTQ history. In 2020, the coronavirus pandemic shifted celebrations to a virtual platform.… Read more »

Gone are the masks, but is Las Vegas finally back? Predictions for Sin City's return as a tourist mecca

LAS VEGAS — Is Las Vegas finally back? There’s a new sense of optimism on The Strip, as tourists shed their masks and step into casinos where they no longer have to social… Read more »

5 family-friendly beaches at the Jersey Shore

The first day of summer is a little more than a month away, and with the school year coming to a close, beach trips are on the horizon. With warming weather and easing… Read more »

What's it like to travel to Costa Rica right now? Blissfully quiet in some parts

NOSARA, Costa Rica – After climbing for hours through pocked and muddy coastal hills in a tropical downpour, we skidded our four-wheel-drive Suzuki Jimny to a stop just before the road dipped into… Read more »

Shots in arms, money in pockets: What a Friday night at the hottest pool in Las Vegas is like

LAS VEGAS – I brought a book to see if I could do it. I’m inside a cabana at Circa’s Stadium Swim, the hottest new pool downtown. Outside, it’s bright and loud, but… Read more »

New Las Vegas attraction will dangle tourists over Grand Canyon, Lake Tahoe — without leaving The Strip

LAS VEGAS – A new attraction coming to The Strip will have tourists dangling their feet over the Grand Canyon, Lake Tahoe and other landmarks of the American West. But this is no… Read more »

Oscar-winner 'Nomadland' made Quartzsite famous. Now the Arizona town is readying for new tourists

It was the day after “Nomadland,” partly filmed in Quartzsite, Arizona, won the Academy Award for Best Picture. But the owner of a rock shop and gift store was readying a sign advertising… Read more »

Where to find seashells by the seashore: Great beaches in California, Texas, Florida, more

Summer’s almost here, and beachcombers are ready to hunt for treasures washed up on shore. “You never know what the sea is going to toss at your feet,” says Anna Marlis Burgard, author… Read more »

Cast your vote for the best attractions to visit this summer

Note from 10Best: Someday, we’ll all be ready to pack our suitcases again and head out on our next adventures. In the meantime, we’ll keep supporting the places that inspire us. Contact individual… Read more »

Expert tips for how to pack light on your next hiking trip

The outdoors is in and everyone you know is taking to the trails this summer. This might lead to a bit more crowding than you’re used to, maybe even leaving your favorite trails… Read more »

Vote now for the best amusement parks and water parks

With hundreds of amusement parks to choose from, it can be difficult selecting just one for your family vacation. We invited a panel of amusement park and family-fun experts to nominate their favorite… Read more »

There's plenty of room to roam at these 10 summer getaways

Destinations with wide-open spaces, fresh air and easy access to nature have long been popular. The pandemic’s demand for social distancing has only enhanced the allure of more remote locations with plenty of… Read more »

Road trip loop: Explore the beautiful coasts of these four Southern states

Note from 10Best: Check with individual businesses and attractions before going, because of sporadic closures due to COVID-19. Life slows down in the South, so what better way to sample it than a… Read more »

These are the best vacation destinations in the USA and the world, per U.S. News

Beach destinations, cities full of history, national parks and other vacation spots all have a unique allure. But U.S. News &amp; World Report set out to rank them with its annual <strong><a href="">Best… Read more »

Hawaii, Florida, California: Try these spots for destination weddings

A couple celebrates their wedding at Hāna-Maui Resort on the island of Maui in Hawaii. Small-scale weddings are popular at Hāna-Maui Resort on the island of Maui in Hawaii, and with the resort… Read more »

10 great places to look for seashells

Summer's almost here and&nbsp;beachcombers are ready to hunt for treasures washed up on shore.<br /> &ldquo;You never know what the sea is going to toss at your feet,&rdquo; says Anna Marlis Burgard, author… Read more »

10 great sites in LGBTQ history

A turning point in LGBTQ rights came 50 years ago when New York police raided the Stonewall Inn gay bar and sparked violent street protests. Today, it's the Stonewall National Monument.<br /> <br… Read more »

These 10 science museums were voted the best in the U.S.

<em><strong>Note from 10Best:</strong></em>&nbsp;<em>Check with each individual museum before visiting due to ongoing restrictions.</em><br /> <br /> From dinosaurs to nanotechnology, science and natural history come alive at these 10 museums &ndash; voted as… Read more »

10 best sculpture parks in the U.S., according to our readers

These 10 sculpture parks and gardens, voted as the best in the United States in our <a href="">10Best Readers' Choice Awards</a>, allow you to appreciate art al fresco. With the weather heating up… Read more »

These 10 small towns have the best arts scenes, according to our readers

Bigger isn't always better, especially when it comes to these 10 small towns, each with a population of fewer than 30,000 people (as of the last census).<br /> <br /> What each lacks… Read more »

10 best regional fast food restaurants, according to our readers

No matter where in the U.S. you live, chances are there's that one fast food joint that locals crave when they're away &ndash; food you can only get in the state or surrounding… Read more »