Brazilian born paraplegic slams NZ immigration rule she says discriminates against disabled

Laura James
Source: 1News

A Brazilian born paraplegic woman is slamming one of New Zealand's immigration rules, as being discriminatory against those who are disabled.

Thirty-eight-year-old Juliana Carvalho, who also has lupus, is set to be deported because of a policy that bars anyone with a health condition likely to cost more than $41,000 in care.

She's lived in New Zealand for seven years with her family, recently working fulltime in recruitment, alongside being an active disability advocate.

She's been seeking residency since 2014, and after going back and forth multiple times, is now awaiting the result of an appeal against deportation on humanitarian grounds.

"I have to prove it'd be unduly harsh or unjust if I got deported," Ms Carvalho said.

Her campaign to garner support to stay in the country has now seen her create a video in which she dives with sharks and paraglides.

She says it's to show it is "possible to do many things", despite having a disability.

Ms Carvalho said, "I thought to myself, what can I do challenge people's perception about my impairment?"

A petition she started now has over 20 thousand signatures, with Ms Carvalho dreaming of reaching over 1 million.

"Because that's the number of people with disabilities here in New Zealand", she said.

"I'm not moving here to use the health system or benefit like, I'm here to contribute like any other migrant.

"If I tick all those other boxes, why am I pushed away because I have a condition I cannot change?"

Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway says it'd be inappropriate to comment on this particular case..

But in a statement told 1 NEWS, "While we feel for everyone who suffers healthcare issues, it is not unusual for governments to have a policy along these lines because of the cost to the health system that would be placed on the taxpayers of New Zealand".

CCS Disability Action's National Disability Leadership Coordinator Debbie Ward, hopes the Minister will look at the Ms Carvalho's case, and the policy overall.

"It makes me angry as a New Zealander that our government has these laws that discriminate so blatantly against disabled people", she said.

"They just need to change the laws to bring them back into this millennium".

She told 1 NEWS she believes the Government needs to look at how the assessments are done on residency applicants.

"I understand there's potential costs, but there is costs to anyone coming into this country and are those costs being weighed up to the benefits these individuals can contribute back to NZ society", she said.

Ms Carvalho says she won't giving up her fight to challenge the status quo.

If her deportation appeal is unsuccessful she said, "I will request for special directions from the Minister of Immigration, and if that is a no, I'm going to chain myself to the Sky Tower and call the international media.

"If needed, I will be deported, but I'm not going anywhere without resisting.

"I'm taking a stand here; this is not just about me, but all people with disabilities"