A ZIMBABWEAN immigrant has won his fight to stay in New Zealand on humanitarian grounds despite a raft of drink-driving convictions.
Denva Ralph Selman has lived in New Zealand since 2000, when he emigrated from Zimbabwe with his father, stepmother and younger brother to escape racial and political tension, and economic hardship.
An Immigration and Protection Tribunal decision said Immigration New Zealand decided not to renew Selman’s work visa in 2013 and he faced deportation to Zimbabwe.
However, Selman appealed on humanitarian grounds as deportation would take him away from his four-year-old son, his partner, immediate family and likely cause him to face racial abuse in Zimbabwe.
Selman had worked as a mechanic since arriving in New Zealand.
In 2013 Immigration New Zealand said it was not satisfied Selman’s employer had made genuine efforts to recruit New Zealand citizens or residents and his visa application was denied after it was discovered he no longer worked for that employer.
Selman immigrant had also racked up a series of driving convictions since his arrival.
In 2001 he was convicted of careless driving causing injury, two years later for driving while disqualified, and in 2004 for breach of community service. He also had four convictions for drink driving from 2004, 2006, 2007 and 2013.
He had received sentences of community work, community detention, fines and disqualification from driving.
Despite Selman’s record the tribunal granted his appeal, allowing him to stay in New Zealand.
The tribunal said it would not be in the best interests of Nicholas, Selman’s young son, for his father to be deported.
Selman said in Zimbabwe he was classified as “coloured”, which meant he was mixed race.
If he returned to his home country he would likely suffer racial abuse.
Zimbabwe remained unstable, basic rights were denied and living conditions were deplorable, the tribunal decision said.
All Selman’s immediate family lived in Australia or New Zealand and life without them would be “very tough”, he said.
The tribunal said Selman was apologetic about his past drink driving convictions and wanted to put them behind him “for the sake of his family and his son”.
Selman enrolled with Community Alcohol and Drug Services after his fourth drink driving conviction and said he intended to get continuing help to address his issues.
The tribunal said it had considered Selman’s well-settled status, his family nexus to this country and his son’s best interests.
“It finds that these are exceptional circumstances of a humanitarian nature that would make it unjust or unduly harsh for the appellant to be deported from New Zealand.”
Deportation would lead to Selman’s permanent separation from his son and destroy any chance of consolidating his relationship with his son’s mother, with whom he had resumed a partnership, the decision said.
Selman’s partner is a New Zealand citizen of Samoan descent.
Immigration New Zealand said it had noted the tribunal’s ruling and had no plans to appeal against the decision.