Paul Crystal moved his family to New Zealand nearly seven years ago to start a new job. Now, Crystal has been diagnosed with a brain tumor, and New Zealand is kicking the family out. The family of five is now facing deportation.
Paul and Sarah Crystal and their three children were in the process of applying for residency in New Zealand when Paul had surgery to remove a tumor in his brain. He has been given a 20 percent chance of surviving the next three years.
The New Zealand government denied the family’s residency applications, stating that Crystal could no longer work and would therefore be a “burden.”
The family, whose children are ages 7, 15, and 17, were also denied welfare assistance.
While Sarah Crystal has found temporary employment during her husband’s illness, it is not enough to support the family. Reportedly, the whole community where the family lives has rallied around to donate food, grocery coupons, and cash.
Sarah Crystal said, “We don’t even know half the people. Sometimes they just turn up with an ice-cream tub full of soup.”
The family is trapped in a no-win situation. Since they can’t afford the $8,000 airline tickets to move back to Britain, they have no where to go. Since their residency applications were denied, they can’t stay. Even if they did make it back to Britain, they would have a six-month “stand down” to apply for welfare benefits, since they have resided out of the country for more than two years.
Ironically, Britain will waive the stand down time if New Zealand deports them after their visas expire. But if the family waits to leave until after the visas expire, they face arrest and jail time in New Zealand.
Paul Crystal. 49, was a truck driver in Britain for 20 years before being recruited to drive for Caltex in New Zealand. The family arrived on a work visa in February of 2006.
The family started their own business under a long-term business visa three years later, and all was going well. They were about to apply for permanent residency when disaster struck.
“I was actually driving to a new contract when I had a seizure,” Paul Crystal recalled. “I just had to pull over. I was gone for 20 minutes. Sarah was with me and when I came to, there was an ambulance there. They took me to [the] hospital.”
Doctors took a lump the size of a golf ball out of his brain.
“Unfortunately, this left me with a large blind area on my left side and a constantly dizzy sensation, which feels like I am repeatedly free-fall skydiving,” he said.
“This results in my constantly bumping into and tripping over things. My short-term memory is really terrible. I get up to do something, usually trip over something on the way, and have forgotten what it was I got up for.”
Crystal reports that he can’t drive or climb ladders, and has to lie down after about an hour if he tries to work.
After the first operation two years ago, doctors gave him one year to live. While he has beaten those odds, his specialist now says he still has only a 20 per cent chance of surviving the next three years.
Meanwhile, Sarah Crystal kept the businesses going. “I did all the businesses, I never stopped,” she said.
“Trouble really started because I worked myself so hard that in the middle of winter last year I got pneumonia. That knocked me for six or eight weeks and we got behind on our bills and everything and just sank.”
They sold their van and other possessions to make ends meet, before finally applying for welfare.
They have not had to pay for medical treatment and the children have been able to stay in school. But daughter Claire, 17, finishes school this month and faces international student fees of about $20,000 a year for her education.
Immigration New Zealand acting general manager Bruce Burrows said their application for residence was rejected because Paul Crystal was no longer actively in business and was “likely to impose significant cost or demands on New Zealand’s health services.”
Do you think the family should be deported?