Common sense prevails

After two decades of dealing with unwanted Vietnamese asylum-seekers, this community is understandably short of sympathy for those it never invited. But, just occasionally, there comes a case where the injustice of what is being proposed is so great as to outweigh weariness with the boat people problem.

One of those rare exceptions surfaced in the High Court this week, when Mr Justice Raymond Sears prevented the deportation of a Vietnamese teenager. Tu Tien Kien has foster parents in Canada who desperately want to take her.

But her natural mother lives in Vietnam and, although they have not seen each other since Kien was given away as a toddler, the Immigration Department has decided that means she must be deported to Hanoi, rather than being allowed to leave for Canada.

It would be almost comic were it not so tragic: a classic case of bureaucrats putting the rule book ahead of common sense. Perhaps the Immigration Department feels reluctant to make an exception in Kien's case, for fear of setting a precedent that will open the floodgates to a slew of others.

But, providing Canada is willing to take her, there is no reason to deport a teenager to parents she does not know, instead of those willing to love and take care of her.