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Tamil family fighting to stay in Australia to learn outcome of last-ditch legal bid

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Mr Albanese will meet community leaders on Wednesday to call on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to allow the family to return to the rural town near Gladstone whether they win or lose a final court application to stay.

Crowds are gathering outside the Federal Court in Melbourne, where the court will decide on an application on behalf of the youngest child for Australia’s protection, put in train after an injunction stopped the government from deporting the family last Thursday.

The injunction is in effect until 4pm on Wednesday.

Their legal team will argue that Tharunicaa’s protection claim was never referred to the Immigration Minister for assessment.

The family’s case is resting on Tharunicaa’s claim because she was not born when her mother’s asylum request was made in late 2016.

Immigration lawyer Carina Ford conceded on Monday that even a win in the Federal Court would refer the matter back to a department delegate to consider for referral to the minister.

“We need a change of heart at the end of the day,” Ms Ford said.

Prayer vigils were held at churches around Australia to support the family on Tuesday night, with another vigil to be held outside the Federal Court in Melbourne ahead of the hearing on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Mr Albanese said Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton had used his discretion to issue visas to two au pairs and should rely on the same law to allow the Sri Lankan family to stay.

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“You can have strong borders without losing your humanity and that’s what this is about,” the Opposition Leader told the ABC’s 7.30 program on Tuesday night.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said he could not “in good conscience” intervene to stop the family being deported if it risked kick-starting the people-smuggling trade.

Priya and Nadesalingam arrived by boat separately as asylum seekers in 2012 and 2013.

Both say they face persecution if they are sent back to Sri Lanka due to past family links to the militant political group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

Priya has said she witnessed her fiance and five other men from her village burned alive before she fled.

 – With AAP, David Crowe

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