October 31, 2005

Disabled Need Not Apply

Countries' Bans on Disabled Immigrants Make News

Sixties pop star Barry McGuire, whose hit "Eve of Destruction" topped the U.S. charts in 1965, has been denied residency in New Zealand because he has a pacemaker. The 70-year-old McGuire was told by New Zealand immigration officials his age and medical condition would make him a burden on New Zealand's health system.

"The couple's $1 million-plus home - built on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula north of Auckland 18 months ago - goes up for auction today. They will return to California," reports the New Zealand Star-Times.

Last week the paper reported a young deaf South African girl had been killed by her father in desperation when the NZ authorities told him the same thing -- they couldn't get residency because she'd be a drain on the system.

The Immigration Service is introducing tougher health screening for migrants aimed at weeding out those with TB and HIV, but also anyone who could be a burden on the state, including children with developmental delays and people with dementia.

In last week's text poll, "should disabled people be barred from immigrating to NZ", 59.5 per cent said yes, 40.5 per cent no.

Rules against allowing those who would be a "drain on the system" to immigrate are common in many countries. Canada has a similar rule -- but Canada's highest court has just ruled that if families won't cost the government money, the state can't deny entry to disabled people:

Inclusion Daily Express's Dave Reynolds writes,

Canada's Supreme Court ruled 7-2 last Friday that families should not be kept from immigrating to the country simply because they have a child with disabilities.

The decision sends two cases back to immigration officials to be reconsidered: The family of South African businessman David Hilewitz, who has a son described by the Globe and Mail as "mildly retarded", planned to move to Canada, as did the family of Dutch dairy farmer Dirk De Jong, who has a daughter that was also described as "mildly retarded".

Both families said they have the resources to pay for any supports their children may need.

But guidelines in Canada's Immigration Act allow officials to reject families whose children are considered likely to place "excessive demands" on the county's social welfare system. Both families were rejected solely on that basis.

The court sent the two applications back to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration for reconsideration by different visa officers.

More from Macleans and the Globe and Mail.

Posted on October 31, 2005