Minister Reviewing Family Deportation

Minister reviewing family deportation

By DIANE JOYCE – The Dominion Post
Last updated 05:00 06/10/2010

A deportation decision that could see three young Hawke's Bay children left in New Zealand while their parents are sent back to India is being reviewed.

Associate Immigration Minister Kate Wilkinson confirmed yesterday that she was revisiting the decision to deport Indian overstayers Sital and Usha Ram, who have been told they will be deported as soon as travel documents are ready

They have been in New Zealand for nearly 11 years, seven as overstayers.

Their daughter, Hemani, 8, and twin boys Gaurav and Gagan, 6, are New Zealand citizens by virtue of being born here before 2006. Since that date, to become a citizen, a child has also had to have a parent who is a legal permanent resident.

A distraught Mrs Ram said this week that she had to choose between leaving her children here and moving them to a slum in India, where, being in the untouchable caste, they would have no access to healthcare or education.

TDK Immigration, representing the family, believed Monday's decision was final and had been signed off by Ms Wilkinson.

The decision said: “As soon as travel documents have been obtained from the Indian high commission, travel arrangements will be made to facilitate those removals.”

National MP Craig Foss, whose Tukituki constituency includes Hastings, asked Ms Wilkinson to review the decision.

TDK spokesman Jean Paul Delamere said the extra step gave the family a “very last” hope.

Human Rights Commissioner Joris de Bres said the rights of children had to “override all other considerations” and any decision that could split up a family was “patently absurd”.

He wrote to Prime Minister John Key yesterday asking him to “urgently” review the decision.

“In making a decision on the case of the parents, the Government is also in effect making a decision on the future of the children, and any such decision, in accordance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, must be made in terms of what is in their best interests.

“In this instance, it is clearly in the best interests of the children, on grounds of health, education and prospects, for them to remain in New Zealand, which they are entitled to do.”

Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule rang Mr Key yesterday and said “initial reactions have been very supportive” of the family. Mr Yule had found an employer prepared to consider hiring Mr Ram, a carpenter.

Mr Foss said “a few things” persuaded him to intervene in the case, including the fact that the children were New Zealand citizens.

Green MP Keith Locke had exhorted the Government to “show compassion … it's not as if their parents have committed any great crime why not let them stay?”

“Adopted nana” Julie O'Shea said the family was grateful for the support but still distressed. Mr Ram had been in jail for two weeks since his arrest for being an overstayer.

Ms Wilkinson's office could not say when the review outcome was likely.