Collective launches campaign to end ableist migration rules

Collage of media headlines showing families with disabled kids being threatened with deportation, stuck in limbo, migrant being targeted for being, to quote the headline, "too fat", etc.

A group of migrants, refugees and families directly impacted by migration discrimination are launching a campaign #EndASHNow calling to scrap ableist migration rules. 

Under the Acceptable Standard of Health or ASH, migrants with disabilities, health conditions and health needs are viewed as financial costs to health or education services, not as contributing members of society.

Here’s why it’s time to #EndASHNow

The ASH rules subject those impacted to lengthy, expensive and stressful assessment processes. Migrants and families are left in limbo for years and sometimes threatened with deportation. Even refugees are affected.

Migrants Against ASH Aotearoa urges the Minister of Immigration to end disability and health-based migration discrimination and immediately abolish the Acceptable Standard of Health requirements. 

“The rules are deficit-based, focusing on the costs of our conditions. They go against our human rights and overlook our diverse contributions to Aotearoa every day.” MAASHA spokesperson Aisling Smyth said. Aisling failed Immigration NZ ASH requirements because of her health condition, MS (Multiple Sclerosis). She was only granted her visa after a ministerial intervention.

“To be able to live in Aotearoa, we need to spend thousands of dollars in lawyers fees and months, if not years, trying to prove our worth to Immigration NZ. I’ve personally faced this discrimination, and it was the most degrading experience of my life. It had a huge negative impact on my mental health. I know I’m not the only one emotionally and financially harmed by ASH rules”, says Juliana Carvalho.  

A MAASHA member Juliana petitioned the Government to end disability discrimination by scrapping the ASH requirements. Her petition pointed out that they breach disabled people’s rights under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with disabilities.

While the Education and Workforce Select Committee responded to her recognising that a strengths-based approach to migration requirements was needed, the Government has not listened to that recommendation. 

“We’re deeply disappointed in the Government’s response. Presented with overwhelming evidence about the harms, injustices and rights breaches these ASH requirements cause, they’ve chosen to uphold the ableist status quo.” Smyth said. 

ASH disproportionately affects children with disabilities and their families and also refugees. “These families are just seeking the certainty of knowing they can settle down and build their lives without endless visa battles and threats of deportation towards their children. Subjecting refugees to the ASH rules shows zero compassion to people facing extreme hardship with minimal resources. That’s not humanitarian; it’s is an unjust and cruel form of discrimination” “, says Smyth. 

MAASHA has created a video and has written a more extensive response to the Minister of Immigration here.

Follow and share MAASHA’s call to #EndASHNow on Facebook and Twitter.

Migrants Against ASH Aotearoa is a grassroots collective set up to campaign against the ableism in Aotearoa’s immigration system and support those currently impacted by the ASH requirements.

Get in touch by emailing or see our website

Media contacts: 

Aisling Smyth 0210516381

Juliana Carvalho 0212565781


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