Family denied residency due to 'medical burden' son
April 23, 2012
A South African couple seeking to stay in New Zealand are upset at what they perceive as discrimination towards their terminally ill son.
Dale Crebo and Louise Moore arrived in Palmerston North in October 2005 on temporary work visas with sons Crispin and Jedd.
Two months after they arrived, a doctor diagnosed Jedd, now 11, with duchenne muscular dystrophy, a severe muscle-wasting disease that will shorten his life drastically.
The couple decided to apply for residency under the skilled-migrant stream, with Crebo, who worked in IT, as the main applicant.
But they were told Jedd was classified as a "medical burden" because he was receiving funding under the Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS) which provides for a teacher aide at his school.
The couple offered to homeschool Jedd and have the funding withdrawn, but were told that once he had qualified, there was no way to stop it.
"We'd just like to stay as a family, that's where our support is. We don't rely on anyone but family," Moore said. "When Jedd got diagnosed, we got bombarded with services that were available for him. It was so overwhelming but we declined them all because we are young enough to look after him ourselves."
As the process dragged on, Crebo's IT job was given to someone else and the family's application was scrapped because they no longer qualified.
They appealed to the Immigration Protection Tribunal but were turned down because being close to Moore's sister and mother, who arrived earlier and already have residency, was not deemed a strong enough reason.
A plea was also sent to Associate Immigration Minister Kate Wilkinson, but her office refused to get involved.
The couple have looked into returning to South Africa but they have no remaining family there and a lack of support would mean one of them would have to give up work.
"My whole family is here, we've got no family in South Africa, it's not like we can just hop on a plane and go back. First of all we don't even know how to get Jedd on a plane.
"This is kind of like discrimination against a boy in a wheelchair. After reading the UN discrimination rights, they're really not considering that family is all we've got ... we don't have 20 other members waiting in the background."
Since having their appeal turned down, the family have been applying for work visas every six to 12 months, but each time, they have to fight to prove their son is not a burden.
They are now preparing to apply for residency again, with Moore, who works as an office manager, as the main applicant.
Immigration New Zealand spokesman Steve Jones said only the tribunal could take into account humanitarian factors when considering an
The initial consideration of a medical waiver looked at several factors in weighing the potential value of the family along with the costs of Jedd's medical condition and ORS funding, he said.
Education Ministry special education group manager Brian Coffey said he could not comment on individual cases, but acknowledged it was a difficult situation.
A spokesman for Wilkinson said there had not been any recent contact with the family and the minister would not discuss individual cases with the media.