A legal firm has launched a last-ditch effort to prevent the deportation of a seven-year-old Ashmont girl.
Esperanca Aseka is facing deportation along with her mother, Angela, after immigration officials caught up with them earlier this year.
The pair had been ordered out by Good Friday, but the Department of Immigration and Border Protection is believed to have given Ms Aseka a few weeks to leave voluntarily and avoid deportation.
Ms Aseka came from Kenya on a student visa 14 years ago, but a legal technicality meant Australian-born Esperanca was never made a citizen, despite having an Australian birth certificate.
Riverina MP Michael McCormack appealed for ministerial intervention on behalf of the family, but it fell on deaf ears.
Former deputy mayor Mary Kidson slammed Immigration Minister Peter Dutton over his refusal to get involved, accusing him of “living in a bubble” ahead of his visit to Wagga on Wednesday.
“It seems to me our federal immigration policy is excessively harsh with no room for compassion,” Ms Kidson said.
“Go back and look at the Hawke era – Chinese students were allowed to stay here during the Tiananmen Square incident and even before that we showed compassion to Vietnamese boat people.
“Where has that compassion gone, I’m just aghast at this decision.”
When news of the family’s plight broke two weeks ago, social media was filled with outrage and disbelief, with many expressing concern that being born in Australia didn’t automatically qualify a child for citizenship.
Wagga woman Maggi Mackay said Mr Dutton should show some compassion for little Esperanca.
“I feel for her, she will be going back to who knows what for her and her child,” she said.
“The Department of Immigration should have been in contact with her constantly, telling her what needs doing, possibly having someone here in Wagga who knows the ins and outs of the system that people can turn to advice for.”
Mrs Kidson said Esperanca was an Australian in her eyes and called the situation outrageous.
“She’s a citizen as far as I’m concerned, especially as the mother is working in an area that has a real need for services and isn’t just a blot on a government payroll,” she said.
“This lack of compassion should be condemned and the decision should be urgently reconsidered.”