I was appalled to learn that Australia’s Immigration Act has been responsible for denying Down Syndrome immigrants into the country since 1958. The reason? Because they can be a financial burden. If anything good comes out of the humanitarian nightmare that is unfolding in Thailand, it may very well be the repeal of this inhumane and discriminatory law:
An embarrassing, little-known result of the scandal of the Thai surrogate twins has shown that Australia has been rejecting Downs Syndrome immigrants for decades. The original story recounted how an Australian couple had paid a Thai woman for surrogacy, rejecting one of her new-born twins when it was discovered that the baby boy suffered from Downs Syndrome. Apart from an international outcry and a projected change in Thai laws on surrogacy, the OZ immigration department is now outed as having rejected Downs Syndrome migrants from 1958 onwards.
Catherine McAlpine, chief of Downs Syndrome Australia, told the press that the country’s Immigration Act and those who enforce it have excluded Downs Syndrome migrants as they are considered to be a future burden on the taxpayer. According to Immigration, treatment and care is likely to cost more than the upper limit of AU$40,000 over a lifetime.
McAlpine considers immigration’s stance to be highly discriminatory, adding that many immigrant couples had fallen foul of the regulation when they became the parents of a Down’s syndrome child. One such, she said, a British midwife working in a Perth hospital and in the process of applying for residency, was initially denied after she gave birth to a Downs Syndrome baby.
The federal government is denying that its immigration rules exclude Downs Syndrome sufferers, stating that there is no actual law banning them but that health service costs must be taken into account when visas are granted. According to a government spokesperson, immigration health requirements do not exclude specific conditions.