If you live in New Zealand you’ve probably read the article on Stuff yesterday about the British woman who is being deported because she left her abusive husband:
Timmons and her ex-husband, a plumber, and their two children arrived from London in 2007. He was granted a work permit and, in September 2008, lodged a residence application for the entire family under the skilled migrant category. Immigration New Zealand approved it in principle in February 2009.
The couple needed to send in their passports and a $1050 fee but Timmons left her husband before the process was completed. As a result, she and the children were illegal immigrants, and she was told she had to leave the country.
This news makes me think three things:
Thing one: Charmain Timmons’s appeal to the Immigration and Protection Tribunal was denied because there are ‘no exceptional circumstances of a humanitarian nature that would make it unjust or unduly harsh for the appellant to be removed’. This is one more example of how domestic violence and abuse is seen as a personal issue, not a political or humanitarian issue.
Thing two: Timmons has had a lot of public support from people who have power and influence in New Zealand, like MP Nathan Guy and Kapiti Coast District Mayor Jenny Rowan. This is a lot more support than most women in her position receive. Of course, Timmons is a White woman from an Anglophone Western country. Most women who are deported from New Zealand after leaving an abusive marriage are Women of Colour from Majority World countries. Most of the time their cases don’t even make it into the media. Which is not to say that Charmain Timmons doesn’t deserve all the support she can get — but there are many other women who also deserve it. This case isn’t an exception, it’s more a norm.
Thing three: National borders and immigration laws are aimed at excluding people who are vulnerable and marginalised. Sexism is structural in nature and is upheld by the legal system. Patriarchy and the state reinforce each other. Not exactly a groundbreaking insight.