There are many things one can do to be deported from a country but the latest deportation case in New Zealand may surprise you: a man is facing deportation due to his weight.
According to the Daily Mail, in May, Albert Buitenhuis, a 50-year-old chef who moved to New Zealand six years ago, was told that his 286 pound frame is a problem for their health services. While Immigration New Zealand requires that
immigrants have a body mass index of less than 35 (Buitenhuis has a BMI of 40), the chef has actually lost 66 pounds since living in New Zealand.
Buitenhuis isn’t the first immigrant to face this problem. Back in 2007, Fox News reported that a British woman, Rowan Trezise, was being kept out of New Zealand due to her weight. She was trying to lose the weight in order to reunite with her husband, Richie Trezise, who was living in the country. Richie himself had also had a hard time passing immigration in New Zealand, even though he was headhunted for a job in the country. He had to shed the pounds before he was able to make the move.
Buitenhuis and his wife Marthie are fighting the command and, according to the Daily Mail, have appealed to the New Zealand Associate Minister of Immigration. The couple assures that Buitenhuis’s weight has not affected his day to day life and that he continues to work 40 hours a week.
Still, the country of New Zealand–the third most obese developed country in the world–is concerned about medical costs due to the increased risks associated with obesity, which according to the INZ, include diabetes, heart disease, cancer and liver problems. Health care in New Zealand is public, which likely accounts for the tough immigration components surrounding weight. Reportedly, the chef also has a knee problem which could cost up to $20,000 to fix.
In an interview with The Press, Marthie pleaded that her husband had not committed any crimes, except “being a foodie.”
In the United States, immigrants cannot be deported due to obesity. In an interview with the International Business Times, Professor Lenni B. Benson of New York Law School at NYU, explains, “We [in the U.S.] don’t use health as a basis for removal.”
According to the Immigration and Nationality Act, the only health-related ailments that could bar entry from the U.S. would be a “communicable disease of public health significance,” if someone “fail[s] to present documentation of having received vaccination against vaccine-preventable diseases,” if someone “[has] or [has] had a physical or mental disorder with associated harmful behavior,” and if someone is a “drug abuser or addict.”
Interestingly, in Canada, with its publicly funded health care, immigrants could in fact be kept from entering or deported if they are obese. If the person was able to purchase private health insurance that covered all predicted medical needs though, they would be safe from removal.
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