How could this hap­pen?


A rou­tine breast screen­ing has high­lighted an im­mi­gra­tion pit­fall for a North Can­ter­bury woman who says she is now fear­ing for her fu­ture.

It was when Teresa Dan­son, 46, went for a mam­mo­gram a year ago that her im­mi­gra­tion sta­tus was flagged as il­le­gal. She has lived in New Zealand since 1972, hav­ing em­i­grated from Birm­ing­ham in the UK with her par­ents and two brothers when she was 12 months old.

She went to school in Ran­giora un­til the fam­ily moved to Auck­land where she at­tended high school, re­turn­ing to Ran­giora as an adult. Up un­til last year she had worked, paid taxes, reg­is­tered with doc­tors, bought a house and raised three chil­dren, all of whom were born in New Zealand.

But the predica­ment is now pre­vent­ing her from start­ing a new job, be­cause she needs to pro­vide a proof of work en­ti­tle­ment, some­thing she has been told she will need to ap­ply to Im­mi­gra­tion NZ for, at her own cost. She feels she should not have to in­cur im­mi­gra­tion costs after so long liv­ing in New Zealand, and is now very con­cerned about be­ing told she is not el­i­gi­ble to stay.

‘‘I’m sup­posed to have started the job. Now I’m be­ing told I need this piece of pa­per. I just thought I had per­ma­nent res­i­dency, surely it would have been flagged when I got a tax num­ber or a driv­ing li­cence?’’

Dan­son has worked in New Zealand since she was 15, had her ton­sils out, sat her NZQAs, re­ceived a ben­e­fit, se­cured a mort­gage, un­der­gone po­lice checks and been sent to the debt col­lec­tors.

‘‘I’ve been in­volved in the com­mu­nity, with the school,’’ she said. ’’There was no is­sue un­til I turned 45 and went for that breast screen­ing. How is it pos­si­ble that I’ve done all of this and no-one has said any­thing?’’

Dan­son’s mother, Eileen Joyce, said she was ro­peable at her daugh­ter be­ing la­belled an il­le­gal im­mi­grant. She and her hus­band also hold UK pass­ports, as does her old­est son, who has also served in the New Zealand Army. Her mid­dle son is the only fam­ily mem­ber to have be­come a cit­i­zen.

‘‘It’s ab­so­lutely ridicu­lous, crazy. I’ve worked here all my life, so has my hus­band. We’ve paid tax, been in and out of hos­pi­tals – no-one’s ever brought this up. Teresa is the only one who has been ques­tioned.’’

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