The children of third-country nationals working in Malta are only deported when irregular methods were used to bring them to the country, Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri insisted on Thursday.
He was replying to questions after a court recently upheld a Georgian mother's plea to be able to keep her 7-year-old son in Malta after Identity Malta turned down a family reunification request on the basis that she earns less than what is required in terms of the family reunification policy.
Camilleri said that the government should not encourage people to come to Malta with their family and live in poverty.
He said that deportations only took place when people attempted to migrate to Malta through irregular means.
“No child is deported when migration is through the proper channels, however, those situations (deportation) occur when a person enters Malta through a tourist visa but then expects to stay here,” he said.
Court documents show that Khatia Pipia's son arrived in Malta in May 2021.
On May 27 the mother applied for her son to live and attend school in Malta. Two months later Identity Malta denied the request.
The Family reunification policy lays down that an application for a family member to move to Malta should be made before the relative arrives.
To qualify for reunification, “stable” resources need to be proven. The policy paper says that these “should be equivalent to the median wage - €15,354 - plus 20% of the said median wage for each family member.
The Georgian single mother took her case to the Immigration Appeals board which upheld the Identity Malta decision. She then went to court as a last resort.
The 7-year-old has meanwhile started attending school and was learning Maltese and English.
The court annulled the Immigration Appeals Board decision and asked it to reconsider, taking into account the impact on the child if he were to be separated from his only parent.
A report on the December 16 case appeared on it-Torċa January 1.
On Thursday, the home affairs minister was asked whether he believes that a policy that leads to the deportation of children is sound.
"We want migrants to live and work in Malta and be with their families," he said. "However as a country, we have regulations on family reunification which must be obeyed. At the end of the day, we do not want to encourage people to migrate here and live in poverty”.
He added that the family reunification policy was expanded recently to allow more people to bring their relatives.
It is not known how many children were deported in recent months. Questions to the Home Affairs Ministry were not answered.