Sick overstayer threatens suicide
By HANK SCHOUTEN
The Dominion Post
Thursday, 31 January 2008
An American overstayer who uses a dialysis machine 12 hours a day is threatening to stop her own treatment and die in Wellington rather than accept deportation.
The Immigration Service has booked Lana Schmidt on a flight out of Auckland next Saturday, and warnedit will force her removal if she resists.
But Ms Schmidt says she has nowhere to go, there are no arrangements for her continued medical care once she gets to Los Angeles, and she cannot get support from the United States Medicare system till July.
Ms Schmidt came to New Zealand in 2000 to be with Zahid Jawad, an Iraqi-born New Zealand citizen whom she met in the US.
But after their relationship broke down two years later, her health deteriorated and she suffered kidney failure.
Legal proceedings for her to get her share of their business are not resolved. She said she needed that money to pay for her dialysis in the US.
She said she had no family she could go to for support in the US, and setting up the dialysis she needed was no simple matter.
Forcing her on to a plane next Saturday was effectively a death sentence.
“I expect they will probably put arrangements in place to manhandle me to get me on that plane. But I do not plan to get on that plane. I do not plan to go and die in LA airport.
“I will stop dialysis here and die here with my friends who are around me, who love me and care about me.”
A letter from Nicola Hay, her Wellington Hospital renal specialist, said discontinuation of her dialysis would result in death within days or weeks.
Immigration Service spokeswoman Helen Corrigan confirmed that Ms Schmidt was to be deported, and said the service saw no reason why this should not happen.
She would not elaborate on the case without Ms Schmidt's consent, and Ms Schmidt yesterday declined to give consent.
The service said she was not required to stay in New Zealand for the conclusion of court proceedings against her former partner.
It said a previous overseas trip in 2004 and an extended holiday in Taupo in January – when she was rescued by helicopter after getting into trouble kayaking down a river – indicated that she was fit and able to travel.
The service told her it was not New Zealand's responsibility to arrange for her dialysis in the US – these were matters for her to arrange with US authorities.
It also asked how she intended to repay the Health Ministry for the cost of her treatment – about $1100 a week – plus the cost of her deportation.
Five years ago a Tuvaluan overstayer and dialysis patient, Senee Niusila, was allowed to stay in New Zealand despite a history of violence against his family.
He was found guilty of beating his wife, but discharged without conviction on the grounds it would affect his chances of gaining residency.
The court was told that if he was sent back to Tuvalu, where dialysis was not available, he would die within weeks.