A Perth family is “over the moon” to have been granted permanent residence in Australia after they were nearly deported because their son has Down syndrome, which they were told was a “burden” on Australia’s healthcare system. The heartbreaking saga begs the question: why the fuck are we still deporting immigrants for having disabilities? Surely in 2023 we can acknowledge the ableism and racism of of it all?
Aneesh Kollikkara and his wife Krishna, who came to Australia from India, were told last month that they had 35 days to leave the country after their permanent residency application was rejected. Why? Because their 10-year-old son Aaryan was considered a burden to the taxpayer due to his disability.
Aneesh and Krishna have lived in Australia with their two children for seven years. Aaryan and 8-year-old Aaryasree have spent almost all their lives in Australia, and don’t know any other home.
The family pleaded for Immigration Minister Andrew Giles to let them stay in the country, which he could absolutely do since immigration ministers have broad powers to intervene in these cases and grant residency to whoever they wish.
You know, like how Peter Dutton intervened to allow his mate’s European au pair to stay in the country. And how, after years of torture and heart-wrenching campaigning by their local community, Labor eventually relented and granted permanent visas to the beloved Biloela family
In a letter to the Kollikkara family on Wednesday, Giles confirmed he would grant the family immediate permanent residency, which is obviously a huge win.
“[The minister] has personally considered your case and has decided to exercise his public interest power in your case to substitute the decision of the [Administrative Appeals] Tribunal,” the letter said, per SBS News.
Letter received from Minister Giles office granting Permanent Residency to Krishna and Aneesh. Hallelujah! pic.twitter.com/iYnWHrAZ0C
— Suresh Rajan (@SureshRajan6) March 8, 2023
People with Disability Australia treasurer Suresh Rajan, who has been representing the Kollikkara family, said part of the reason they had been allowed to stay was because Aneesh and Krishna both work in important industries — Krishna is a cyber security expert and Aneesh works in telecommunications.
“That public interest criteria goes to the fact that Krishna and Aneesh are performing work in critical industries and the public wants them here,” he said.
The question is, though, why must immigrants have to prove they are profitable in order to stay in this country?
“You cannot think in terms of human beings in monetary terms, saying: this child is a burden to the taxpayer. Where is the humanity?” Rajan told SBS News previously.
“My assessment of these two people, Krishna and Aneesh, [is that] the tax they will pay in that period will exceed $664,000. So where’s the burden to the taxpayer?” he asked.
Go off king!
The Minister has intervened and a 10YO boy and his family will no longer be deported from Perth due to his down syndrome. This is a great outcome but a Minister shouldn’t have to intervene to ensure that migrants are treated with the dignity and respect.🧵 pic.twitter.com/L9CCWwPRIX
— Democracy in Colour (@democracycolour) March 9, 2023
Migrants contribute significantly to the Australian economy, and if we’re being real, we can admit that this entire country was built off the back of immigrants. And as Rajan mentioned above, they also pay a fuck-tonne of tax. Certainly more than the wealthy elite of this country do.
It’s hypocritical that our government has such stringent (read: racist) rules on how much it is willing to spend on immigrants’ healthcare when it would have no economy without them. It’s also hypocritical to have these stringent rules about immigration when we’re all settlers on stolen land, too. It’s not ours or the government’s to gatekeep.
The idea that a person’s worth and value is determined by how much productive output they provide to the state is an infuriating symptom of the capitalist profit-over-people neoliberal machine we live in.
Good news for the Aneesh family in Perth with the Immigration Minister stepping in and granting them permanent residency after they were threatened with deportation because of a child’s disability.
Now, about all those asylum seekers that are incarcerated….
— Captain Nemo’s Left Sock. 🐕 311.1 ppm. Vote YES. (@RuncibleH) March 8, 2023
And it’s probably not a surprise that it’s ableist too, as yet again disabled immigrants are reduced to the amount of money required to care for them rather than their intrinsic value as human beings. It frames disabled people as worthless and burdens to society unless they’re churning out money, and you’d think we were past reducing a person to their financial output in 2023.
Krishna said having her family’s visa rejected just because of Aaryan’s condition was heartbreaking and made her concerned about discrimination.
“We want a society to accept Aaryan how he is and don’t want anyone to discriminate [against him] or see him with a different eye,” she said, per SBS.
“We hope the rule can change so that any family like us can get a permanent residency if they are meeting all of the criteria.”
While it’s a huge relief that Aaryan and his family were granted permanent residency and not deported, the fact that countless other disabled folk have been and will continue to quietly be deported for their disabilities is a blight on our society.
This may come as a shock to some, but a human’s worth is intrinsic and inalienable. And it’s certainly not dependant on how much money they can generate for our economy.
Instead of deporting someone (in this case, the key person being a disabled child) because of their specialised health care needs, we should be asking how we can strengthen our healthcare system to be accessible and helpful to all.
Labor plans to spend $48 billion on defence this financial year. Imagine what our healthcare system could be like if we allocated that kind of money to funding health services. Or what our social services could be like if we introduced a wealth tax.
And really, I think we all know it’s not 10-year-old kids that are wasting taxpayer money.