by Kerry Lee

Earlier this year, I wrote an article about a woman named Julia Garcia who was born in the Philippines. For the last ten years, she had made a life for herself as a productive member of New Zealand society. However, having a good job, contributing to the New Zealand economy, and being well-educated did nothing to save Juliet and her family from being deported back to the Philippines by Immigration New Zealand earlier this year. What made the decision even more heartbreaking was that their son had developed cancer and would not have access to the required treatments now that they are forced to leave.

Fast forward to six months since that article, a change of government have not improved the situation of many of our immigrants. At the time I wrote the previous story, the reasons for Juliet’s deportation weren’t really explained. I personally believed that she was forced out to encourage her employers to hire a New Zealander to replace her but now I believe the motives to be far more sinister. On 27 November, journalist Rachel Smalley wrote an article about a Sri Lankan family, the Amarasinghe’s, facing deportation. What was their crime you might ask? The mother of the family, Dinesha, developed a multiple sclerosis. There are some chilling similarities between the Garcia’s and the Amarasinghe’s. In both cases, all the deportee’s were longtime residents and both had a family member diagnosed with an incurable illness. I hope I’m wrong but the similarities are too hard to ignore. Were Juliet and her family forced to leave New Zealand because the government didn’t want to subsidize her son’s cancer treatments? Are they doing the same thing with the Amarasinghe’s?

Of course, this is just speculation on my part. I have no proof, but you have to admit that it does seem strange.

So I ask this question, is this the new norm for living in New Zealand? We invite immigrants into our country, take their money, ask them to contribute to our society, and when they get sick, throw them out. I really wish this is not the case. These people have done a lot to New Zealand and moving here is not as easy as it may sound to some. They sacrificed a lot. They helped us a lot. I urge we don’t leave them out when they need us.