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Thread: A sorry tale

  1. #1
    MotherBear's Avatar
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    Default A sorry tale

    Frustrated family leaving NZ
    By LYN HUMPHREYS - Taranaki Daily News
    Last updated 05:00 25/05/2009

    The Habr family who have called New Zealand home for five years have given up on Immigration New Zealand and are leaving.

    "That's enough time to leave our lives hanging," electrical engineer Joseph Habr said in New Plymouth yesterday.

    "It had to end some time. We will be looking for some stability in our lives," he said.

    The Lebanese family, Mr Habr and his wife Catherine Serhan, a structural engineer, and their daughters Kelly Jo, 15, and Katy Jo, 13, are packing up all their belongings in their New Plymouth home and will depart for Kuwait, where Mr Habr is working in the oil industry, early next month.

    The girls are sad that they are saying goodbye to their friends and a country they had lived in for much of their lives, he says.

    The two girls wrote emotional letters to Immigration NZ last year asking to be allowed to stay.

    "The kids don't like it," Mr Habr said. "They have built their lives here. They don't like moving but it's not like it's a decision made by choice."

    The Habrs' plight was first outlined in the Taranaki Daily News before Christmas when Mr Habr was denied a visitor's visa to travel home from his job in Kuwait to rejoin his family.

    The Government stepped in and fast-tracked his visa, allowing the family a belated Christmas together.

    Mr Habr and the family's lawyer, Nic Marinovich, are disgusted that the application for permanent residency has been through the hands of three case managers in four years each case manager starting the process anew. "It is inefficient," Mr Habr said. "No business would work that way."

    Two of the three case managers had told them the residency was going ahead. "Because of that, we settled down, bought furniture, and were planning to buy a house."

    Twice the couple had been given work permits, scoring highly on the points system, and the girls, who have attended Sacred Heart Girls College, have been issued with student visas.

    But the family was shocked last year when the third case manager declined their residency on medical grounds because of Kelly's partial blindness.

    They filed a review with the Residents Review Authority, offering to pay any costs associated with her condition. Six months later they are still waiting for the decision. The strain of being apart has been too much.

    "We now have no expectations," he said.

    "It has been six months since we applied. We don't know when or what it is going to be. I don't think that the process has served us well."

    Mr Habr warns that it had not helped that he and others from the Middle East are repeatedly being treated like criminals when coming into New Zealand.

    The officials' attitudes have him fearing that the country is treading a fine line of being accused of racism and becoming a police state.

    It is clear to him that other races are not being given the same scrutiny at the borders.

    "It is not up to me to criticise New Zealand but it really hurts me. I am always stopped and searched because my passport is from the Middle East when other people are not. We are treated as criminals. This really gives a bad impression."

    Mr Habr also believes that New Zealand needs to re-assess the type of person it wants to give residency to.

    "When I see the type of people coming through and we're being kicked out it really upsets me.

    Yet New Zealand continued to urge skilled people to come to the country to live, Mr Habr said.

    "How does it work? I don't know," Mr Habr said.

    Mr Marinovich said the length of time the Habrs had waited was a disgrace. Meanwhile, their appeal was still undecided.

    "It's hard to explain why it's taking so long. It's appalling. I would hate to think we will lose any more good people. It does reflect badly on Immigration NZ and the country."

    It appeared Immigration NZ was overburdened and rudderless, Mr Marinovich said.

    Associate Immigration Minister Kate Wilkinson said, through a spokesman, that the appeal was still with the review authority. She could understand the family's frustration but it was the Habrs' decision to leave before that decision was made, the spokesman said.

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  2. #2
    migratingfishswim is offline Junior Member
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    That's such a sad story and no doubt, the tip of an iceberg.

    It's a similar story here in the UK, racism gets in the way
    emigrating to new zealand blog
    http://migratingfishswim.blogspot.com/

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