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Mum's petition to Australia to not deport autistic son gets over 120,000 signatures

Thousands of people have signed a petition by a Filipino mum who is pleading with Australian authorities to not deport her or her son because of the latter's autism. 

Tyrone Sevilla, 10, arrived in Australia from the Philippines legally as a two-year-old with his mother Maria Sevilla, now a registered nurse in a Queensland hospital.

But he was diagnosed with autism in 2008, a condition the Migration Review Tribunal said posed a “significant cost” to the Australian community in denying the family a visa extension, his mother told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). 

Maria Sevilla, who said she pays tax and has private health insurance, is on a work visa, which expired Monday.

Over 120,000 sign petition

The Sevillas presented a petition signed by more than 120,000 people to Immigration Minister Peter Dutton’s electoral office in Brisbane in the hope that the minister would give compassionate consideration to their cause.

“Australia is our home. Because we have been here for nearly eight years and we’ve been assimilated in the community,” the mother told the ABC.

“I have my work here and I can actually provide for Tyrone ... that’s why we’re considering Australia our home.”

The family said Tyrone did not speak Filipino or have any close relatives remaining in the Philippines, with his grandmother, grandfather, uncle, aunt and cousins all living in the Australian city of Townsville.

Maria Sevilla said being sent back to the Philippines would mean she would have to “start all over again”.

Support for the family has been overwhelming, with Maria's family members and co-workers as well as strangers posting messages online. 

'Bridging visa' prepared

Dutton said the immigration department was preparing a report for him on the case, and in the meantime a bridging visa – which typically covers a 28-day period – would be issued for the mother and son.

“In this case we need to apply common sense,” he told the ABC.

“We’re a compassionate society and we want to help families in difficult situations.” Dutton said a decision would likely be made within weeks, and it would take into account the fact that Sevilla was employed and could look after her son. - AFP

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