Son's autism 'prevents South Korean family being allowed to stay in Canada'|
HAMILTON, Canada: A Hamilton family from South Korea trying to stay in Canada has been denied because of the potential health care and social services costs for their 12-year-old autistic son.
For Sungsoo Kim, who came to Hamilton with his family nine years ago, the rejection for permanent residency is devastating. He was first here on a student permit and then stayed on work permits.
Daughter Lisa, 17, and son Taehoon, 12, were eight and three years old, respectively, when the west Mountain family came to Canada. Taehoon was diagnosed with autism in 2005 or 2006, his father says.
Officials informed Kim in January that he did not meet Canada’s immigration requirements because Taehoon “is a person whose health condition, autism, might reasonably be expected to cause excessive demand on health or social services.” Since his son is inadmissible, so is Kim.
Autism is one of several conditions that can bar people from immigrating to Canada, because the conditions can add strain to an already costly taxpayer-funded health care and social services system and can also have potential impacts on waiting lists for care, according to Citizenship and Immigration Canada.
Kim said he had applied for permanent residency six years ago, but would get a letter about once a year asking for additional information until the final rejection this year.
Kim is working as the IT help assistant administrator for Pattison Outdoor Advertising at its Mississauga headquarters. His work permit expires in July.
Lawyers he has talked to about taking on his case have told him it would be difficult to win because the autism issue is “a hot potato,” he says.
Immigration Canada says 1,181 applications in 2010 were deemed inadmissible because they would pose this “excessive demand,” but that amounts to fewer than 0.22 per cent of all people who applied for permanent or temporary residence in Canada that year.
Immigration Canada could not comment specifically on the Kim family because it could not entirely go through what officials called a complex file in time for The Spectator’s deadline.
Kim’s mother, brother and sister have long lived in Canada and are Canadian citizens, and he said he had no idea his son’s condition would impede his chances of also staying in Canada for good.
“I can’t go back to South Korea because I have two kids. They spent their whole lives in Canada,” he says. “Going back is another immigration for them. I cannot imagine how difficult it will be for my son Taehoon to go to another education system that will be totally different.”
Kim, 43, says his son’s autism is not severe. “His motor skills are fine - walking, using spoons, chopsticks - not a problem. His most serious thing is he is speech-delayed.”
Taehoon’s cognitive recognition was a problem, but he has improved considerably and, except for a lack of speech, is high functioning, Kim adds.
His son does not take medication and at this point, after receiving therapy from November 2007 to January 2009, needs a special assistant only at school. Kim also paid out of his own pocket for hyperbaric oxygen treatment for the boy, who has not needed treatment since, other than home exercises, he said.
And when the school recently suggested it would supply his son with an iPad because it might help, Kim insisted on buying it.
Family friend Theresa Kim (no relation) is helping and has posted an online petition at gopetition.com/petitions/taehoon “in hopes that people in the community would be sympathetic and want to help,” she says.
Her fiancé, David Zettel, believes the family’s request is different from other immigration applications “because they’ve been here nine years … at this point, it seems unfair.”
Trish Simons, president of the Hamilton chapter of Autism Ontario said: “I think it’s terrible someone should be denied (permanent residency in Canada) because a person has autism … but they (Immigration Canada) do kind of have a point, because it is an expensive disorder.”
Kim’s wife, Sunmi, 46, was a private school teacher in her home country and saysthat, while South Korea is developing, there is still prejudice against disabled children.
(Source: Hamilton Spectator, March 15, 2012)