The New Zealand authorities have halted the deportation at the eleventh hour of a Philippine family whose member used a false address to avail food vouchers out of desperation.
The family called this relief from deportation as the “best present” on Christmas, according to a report.
The deportation of Jeffrey Santos and his family to the Philippines was slated for Christmas day as he was held for using a fake address to secure food vouchers worth $1,600 (£ 1,193).
“This is the best present I have ever seen. This is the first time in our lives we have got a big present!,” Mr Santos said, reported The Guardian.
The man threw a mini-celebration together with his son’s friends and said they were having a Christmas celebration, the chances of which were bleak earlier.
“We’ll sort everything else out later on,” he said, according to the report.
Mr Santos, a carpenter by profession, says he had to resort to the voucher after he lost his job in the aftermath of Covid lockdown in 2020 and became ineligible for New Zealand’s income relief payment.
In the absence of money and food, Mr Santos decided to use the incorrect address but after this came under scrutiny, his family of three — including his 8-year-old son — were asked to go back to Pampanga.
And the date of their exit from New Zealand dampened the family’s spirits further. Christmas day would be a struggle, he had told Stuff.
“I am definitely broken. Because I am happy here, we are settled here and this is home,” Mr Santos had said before the deportation was canceled.
He said he was unable to pay the house rent for two weeks and he had to do something.
Mr Santos had expressed remorse at his actions and said that he wished he hadn’t done this.
“I tried to ask for another chance. Please try me again. If I do another mistake, straight to the airport. But it was a mistake,” he had told Stuff.
The New Zealand administration’s decision to deport the family sparked protest from the locals.
Activists and members of the Greens party asked people to email New Zealand’s immigration minister Kris Faafoi and seek his intervention to halt this deportation.
Authorities decided to grant the man a 12-month work visa which will keep him in New Zealand for longer.
“We just got off the phone with Jeffrey Santos after receiving the news that he has been granted a 12 month work visa!! Collective pressure work. Thanks to all of you who wrote to Ministers and raised awareness. And to Mikee and Maricel for their amazing advocacy,” tweeted Ricardo Menendez, an MP of Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand.