The Australian federal government ruled in favor of deporting a woman and her 10-year-old son to their native Philippines because they fear that the boy, who has autism, could end up being a tax burden.
Maria Sevilla, a nurse in Queensland, has lived in Australia with her son, Tyrone, for eight years. In 2014, the Australian government rejected Sevilla’s request for a work visa. She appealed the decision, and that appeal was rejected earlier this week.
“I hope I’m not considered as a burden,” Sevilla said. “I’m trying my best to work for Tyrone’s future.” The mother and her son could be deported in as soon as 28 days. “It’s like, I’m pleading for our life, for Tyrone’s future,” she said.
Sevilla created a Change.org petition late last year, which has garnered support from nearly 64,000 people. “In 2007, I brought Tyrone to Australia with me,” Sevilla wrote on the page. “He was 2 and a half. 6 months after we arrived he was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Tyrone is not a burden, he is a joy. He’s non-verbal, but he still hears and still experiences the world. He is a happy child with full of life attitude and can lighten the mood of a room with his presence. He doesn’t take any medication, and he attends a special school. The idea that he can’t contribute because of his condition is just wrong. People with autism can be excellent at a whole range of things, he just need to be given a chance!”
On Thursday, the Queensland Nurses' Union issued a statement expressing their support for Sevilla and Tyrone, and urging Immigration Minister Peter Dutton to reverse the decision.
“The Queensland Nurses’ Union calls on Minister Dutton to protect 10-year-old Tyrone instead of punishing him for his condition,” the statement read. “Tyrone’s mother Maria is a hard-working and highly valued rehabilitation nurse who helps patients who have lost limbs and suffered spinal and brain injuries to rebuild their lives. Ms. Sevilla pays taxes, has private health insurance, and plays an integral role in supporting and bettering the community in which she lives. No child deserves to be sent into the vast unknown as punishment for a manageable medical condition for which they are not responsible.”