As many of you will know move2nz has been supporting Charmain Timmons and her children since July 2011, migrants threatened with being deported after living in New Zealand for four years.
There has been a huge amount of work behind the scenes, but we finally have some news and wanted to tell you all about it.
Charmain arrived in New Zealand with her husband and two young children in December 2007. Many people migrate because of a problem and sadly some bring that problem with them as Charmain did, her secret was that her husband was abusing her. Sadly this continued in their new life, but Charmain somehow found the strength to break free.
What devastated this family and lead to two years of fear and suffering was that despite being granted Residency in principle in February 2009, just a passport stamp from full residency, their application was cancelled because Charmain’s husband broke the law ending up in jail.
What made this situation utterly unfair was that the crimes he committed were against Charmain and as a result she and their children were told to leave New Zealand.
Charmain asked again for help in all the right places, but was poorly advised leading inevitably to being threatened with deportation which would have forced the family to leave everything they owned and their dreams of the future in New Zealand. Charmain’s final hope was an appeal to Kate Wilkinson, the Associate Minister for Immigration, who alone had the power to save them.
Fighting Charmain’s corner
As soon as we heard about this situation we decided we had to do something – move2nz works to support migrants in New Zealand (like our work helping Martyn Payne and of course the ‘Smith’ family who lived in our home for 6 months while they sorted out their immigration problems).
In August 2011 we launched a facebook campaign and online petition to urge the Associate Minister to look at Charmain’s appeal and grant them residency. Over 1,200 people have since signed that petition and over a thousand used our page to send the petition message to the Prime Minister and Kate Wilkinson.
Unable to represent Charmain due to legal constraints move2nz worked to keep her spirits up with emotional support through what has been a terrible year during which Charmain fought constantly against her ex-husband’s attempts to take the children and a system which appeared intent on punishing the victim of violence while supporting the abuser.
Happily we were also able to contact some very special people (you know who you are) who were able help directly and have been working for months, albeit behind the scenes, to obtain a positive outcome.
Now ten months on Charmain has received the reply from Kate Wilkinson the Associate Minister she has been waiting for. This letter confirms that:
“I have decided to instruct Immigration New Zealand (INZ) to cancel the deportation orders in force against Ms Leighton and her two children, in accordance with section 177 of the Immigration Act 2009. I am also authorising INZ to grant a work visa to Ms Leighton and student visas to her two children under section 61 of the Immigration Act 2009 (s61), subject to health and character requirements being met.“
This is fantastic news as the weight has been lifted off the family. With emotions so tightly wound you can imagine the reaction this letter created.
The family are not out of the woods yet as they have to apply for this visa and, without residency, are still in a temporary and potentially vulnerable position. However they now they have all they were ever asking for thanks to Kate Wilkinson and the many people who have worked on their behalf: a chance.
A message from Charmain
Once Charmain got over the shock of this announcement she sent through a message for the many people who have helped her:
“Kia Ora to all of our supporters globally and here in New Zealand.
The children and I received long awaited news that we are allowed to stay here in New Zealand, this country that is now our home. I am allowed to continue with my Bachelor of Social Work degree and be able to work. My children now have student visa’s and we as a family can work to residency.
Your continuing support has kept us strong and motivated. A lot of tears have been shed through this journey but sitting down and reading your thoughts have been truly comforting. I would like to say a heartfelt thank you to everyone who has been supporting my family but more importantly were supporting two innocent little children and I as their mother were their only voice.
Thank you again and my gratitude I cannot put into words.“
I would also like to thank everyone who helped through this difficult time. This is a great result and gives hope that when a mistake is being made the Associate Minister can and may step in to save a miscarriage of natural justice.
move2nz is continuing to work to support and assist migrants suffering injustice. Watch this space.
Mike, site architect