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Call For National-led Government To End Ableist Immigration Health Standards

As the National-led Government takes office, Migrants Against the Acceptable Standard of Health Aotearoa (MAASHA) reiterates calls to treat all migrants with dignity and especially to end the discriminatory Acceptable Standard of Health requirements.

In the lead-up to the election, over 20 organisations and dozens of experts signed an open letter calling on all political parties to commit to ending this policy, which treats migrants and many refugees with disabilities and health conditions, including children, as cost burdens.

"This new Government has committed to migration measures the new PM has called "humane" but there's nothing humane about a migration system that continues to discriminate against migrants and families based on disability or health conditions," said MAASHA spokesperson Áine Kelly-Costello.

"This Government is committed to removing bureaucratic red tape. Removing the stressful and financial burden of the ASH requirements is compatible with this. However, this must be done in conjunction with removing the human rights exemption from the Immigration Act 2009 and upholding UN recommendations to go through migration policy with disabled people's close involvement to remove discrimination," Kelly-Costello said.

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Week on week, MAASHA supports migrants and families bearing the brunt of these impacts. The Chilean Vasquez family, whose daughter Ignacia has a learning disability, have been stuck in limbo for eight years now due to these requirements, currently awaiting the outcome of their RV2021 application.

"We've built our lives here in Christchurch and this is taking a huge toll on our mental health," Ignacia's mother Carolina Vasquez said.

"We just want to be able to stay with certainty. And we want this for all other families and migrants facing ASH impacts too."

MAASHA is concerned about the purely economic focus that this Government looks set to take to migration measures.

"The migration measures the government has agreed to focus on making it easier for some migrants to work in Aotearoa. However, as migrants with disabilities and health conditions and their family members, we know that treating migrants as units to be measured in their economic productivity is a recipe for exploitative and dehumanising work conditions. We are all human beings with inherent value and we call on this Government to treat all migrants as such," Kelly-Costello said.

MAASHA also strongly condemns the Government's attacks on te ao Māori and the disregard of health, educational and other inequities experienced by Māori and Pasifika.

"We know that as migrants, the articles of te Tiriti o Waitangi give us a place to stand in Aotearoa. We back the calls of Māori scholars who have outlined what migration system based on te ao Māori values including aroha, manaaki and utu could look like," Kelly-Costello said.

"Contrary to these values, the governing agreements are fundamentally racist, introducing legislation designed to undermine how Te Tiriti is honoured, trying to diminish the status of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Aotearoa, and axing Te Aka Whai Ora the Māori health authority among other measures.

"The agreements are also ableist in their punitive measures targeting beneficiaries which will force people into work that makes them sicker.

"Along with our allies, we'll hold this Government to account for an actually humane migration system. None of us are free until we are all free."


Contact: Áine Kelly-Costello 02102428066


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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