AUCKLAND (Sachin Sharma): Despite being a New Zealand citizen by birth, the fear of deportation looms over him, because a dependent, he might have to go with his over - stayer mother.
Chuanjin Diao father of Eason Diao, 17, died two weeks ago after falling from a ladder. Diao was an over - stayer of 18 years while his wife Xianglan Hao is also an over - stayer.
Eason feels that his 65 - year old mother will be the target of deportation by Immigration New Zealand and he might be the victim as he still is a dependent.
Chuanjin Diao came to New Zealand on a business visa in 2001 and Hao came on a visitor visa, both from Liaoning in China. Both did not renew their visas when they expired and became over - stayers.
Hao and her late husband did not have work visas, but they established a small but very successful home painting business enabling them to buy a mortgage-free home.
In January 2009, when Eason Diao was just 5, Immigration New Zealand (INZ) people had forced their way in to couple's house, pushing Eason against the wall and his father to the ground while mother had started screaming. These scenes have now started to haunt him.
Under the British Nationality and NZ Citizenship Act 1948, Eason automatically became a citizen because he was born before the law change in 2006.
He is one of an unknown number of children born to parents who were in New Zealand at the time.
The family's immigration adviser is Tuariki Delamere, a former minister for immigration. He is reported to have said, "When I was Minister of Immigration I always signed off on the deportation of such persons, except when those persons were the parents of a New Zealand citizen child," Delamere said. "That is why I agreed to represent the parents because their son Eason was by birth a New Zealand citizen."
In 2009 Eason's father was arrested and taken to Mt Eden prison pending deportation and was released after three months.
Delamere said Hao suffered a mental breakdown and was admitted to hospital, and Diao was held in prison for three months before he was released.
"During that time, Eason lived with me and my family and attended primary school with several of my children until his parents were able to care for him," Delamere said.
"I have, in a way become Eason's de facto Kiwi grandfather, which is why he always calls me Koro. Eason has been a record of success at school as a student, as an Auckland swimming champion and as a national champion ballroom dancer."
Delamere says he will now be fighting for Hao to remain in New Zealand with Eason because "all they now have left is each other".
He believed it was only appropriate for the Minister to grant her a residence visa under humanitarian circumstances, or at least a one day visa so she can test her case with the Immigration and Protection Tribunal.
Delamere was planning to lodge a special directions request for her to remain.
Eason feels like he is an undocumented immigrant even though he is a citizen of New Zealand.
He is scared that he would be "deported by default" if his mother was to be deported because he is still a dependent child under the law.
Hao said she and her late husband decided to remain in New Zealand so Eason could have a better life. "Eason, now a year 12 student at Macleans College, has made them proud by regularly winning awards and trophies," she said.
Stephen Vaughan, INZ's general manager border and visa operations has also said that Eason is a NZ citizen and his mother was "in New Zealand without a valid visa and is therefore unlawful".
He has asked Hao to approach INZ to discuss her case and options for remaining in New Zealand.
There were around 11, 000 over - stayers in New Zealand in 2017. A University of Otago study in 2012 found the rights of children were often not protected in deportation cases.
The report, by Charlotte Kempthorne, concluded that despite individuals having rights in law, the existing balancing test failed to uphold the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).