Family facing ableist migration discrimination delivers petition to be reunited

Mother, father and daughter stand together in studio, smiling.

28 April, for immediate release

Update: Watch the petition hand-over here.

Read Gail and Allan Alfonzo’s powerful hand-over speech here.

A family torn apart for six years because of migration rules that discriminate against disabled people are delivering a petition to be reunited in Aotearoa.

Lorigail Alfonzo wants her family to be reunited

Allan Alfonzo has been living in Auckland since 2016, running a carpet layering business. He and his wife Lorigail Alfonzo both hold permanent residence in the country.

But due to immigration rules that deem disabled students a burden and cost to the education system, Immigration NZ won’t give their autistic daughter Arianna residency.

Because of this, Arianna and Lorigail are stuck 7800 km away in the Philippines, separated from father and husband Allan.

They are calling on the Associate Minister of Immigration Hon. Phil Twyford to intervene and grant Arianna an exemption to the requirements so she can get residency.

Arianna, who communicates through body language and gestures, has expressed to her mother Lorigail that she’s usually happy, but misses her father a lot. 

Lorigail describes the ordeal of fighting for years with immigration for Arianna’s basic human rights as “expensive, stressful and very painful.”

She says the family separation has taken a huge toll.

“Time spent with our family is worth every second and it’s heartbreaking being away from each other.”

“As the Bible says, family is a circle of strength, founded by faith, joined with love and kept by God. All we want is to be united and call New Zealand home together.”

Allan says New Zealand is already home for him.

“New Zealand is a better place to live and raise a family. It is deep pain that I was not able to reunite with my family here in New Zealand. I believed New Zealand would value family, extend kindness and compassion to children like Arianna.”

Public pressure is ramping up with the Alfonzos’ story covered by national and international media including the NZ Herald, Newshub, The Guardian, Sky News and others.

Migrants against ASH spokesperson Juliana says that the so-called Acceptable standard of Health immigration requirements breach Arianna’s rights under the UN Conventions on the Rights of the Child and the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

“It is outrageous that NZ continues to systematically breach these core human rights instruments it signed up to. The CRPD says that disabled people like Arianna have the right to not be discriminated against. They have equal rights to family life, inclusive education and to liberty of movement.” 

“The ASH rules violate Arianna’s human rights and need to be abolished. It’s time to recognise the strengths disabled migrants bring and treat this family with dignity.”

Green MP Ricardo Menéndez March will accept the petition. The delivery will be streamed live to his Facebook page on Thursday 28 April at 8:30pm.

ENDS

Media contact: Juliana Carvalho 0212565781, juliana.carvalho.nz@gmail.com

About migrants Against ASH Aotearoa

Migrants Against the Acceptable Standard of Health is a grassroots migrant collective campaigning to end disability and health discrimination in Aotearoa New Zealand’s immigration system by getting rid of the Acceptable Standard of Health requirements.

We are led by migrants, refugees and families directly affected by ASH discrimination.

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