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Home Affairs seeks deadline extension on amending immigration law

In 2017, the court gave Parliament two years to amend immigration law to ensure illegal foreign nationals are brought before a court within 48 hours of arrest.

FILE: Department of Home Affairs. Picture: Sethembiso Zulu/ EWN.

CAPE TOWN - Home Affairs plans to ask the Constitutional Court to extend a deadline to strengthen the rights of illegal immigrants.

In 2017, the court gave Parliament two years to amend immigration law to ensure illegal foreign nationals are brought before a court within 48 hours of arrest.

However, it became apparent at a meeting of Parliament’s home affairs committee on Tuesday that there are several issues the department and the SA Police Service (SAPS) need to iron out before the law can be amended.

Parliament has been racing against the clock to meet a June deadline to amend immigration law.

But home affairs deputy minister Fatima Chohan says the bill in its current form is inadequate.

“It means you are saddled with a half-baked bill that nobody’s happy with, that’s probably not going to be well implemented because it’s not solving the current challenges. In fact, it may create a further complication regarding the existing challenges.”

Chohan has appealed to the committee not to proceed with the proposed amendment bill and instead join the department’s application to the Constitutional Court.

She says more consultations with the SAPS are needed to address the challenges posed by the detention of illegal migrants.

The SAPS has admitted it’s battling to accommodate illegal foreign nationals and is not even sure exactly how many are being detained every month.

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)