Young child loses his mother to Dutton's immigration policy
A SINGLE mum from Brisbane has been given just three weeks before she will be deported to the Philippines and separated from her young son.
Mother of three, Bernadette Romulo, met with the Department of Home Affairs on Thursday to try and convince them to reverse the decision that would see her eight-year-old son Giro left behind in Australia while she was deported along with her two daughters, Giro's sisters.
"I was really emotional in the interview with the Department of Home Affairs when I was telling them that my son's nightmares are happening more frequently ... especially these past three days," Ms Romulo told news.com.au.
"He wakes up angry and distressed for no reason. He's losing his appetite and laughs are lesser. It's really a torture for us."
The 40-year-old mum has lived in Australia for the past 11 years working as an assistant nurse in an aged care facility.
She met with immigration officials on May 8, the day her bridging visa expired, fearing she and her overseas-born daughters - half-sisters to Giro - would be deported after 11 years living in Australia.
But Ms Romulo, who originally arrived in Australia on a 457 visa, was given some renewed hope with another bridging visa extension until this week.
Now she says she has been given just three weeks until her and her daughters will be deported.
"This family that I have kept together through thick and thin, nourished with love and care will be destroyed forever," she said. "And my son's future is at stake here."
Ms Romulo first arrived here with her daughters and then-husband on his skilled visa. When that marriage ended she began a relationship with the father of her son Giro, who is an Australian citizen.
Their relationship ended in 2010 and, though Giro's father still has partial custody, Ms Romulo was made his primary carer by the Family Court of Australia.
Ms Romulo has been pursuing permanent residency for years but recently had her application denied by the department after three years of waiting.
More than 34,000 people have signed a Change.org petition backing her bid to stay in the country and keep her family together.
As part of her fight to stay with her son made a desperate video plea to Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton.
"I'm requesting our honourable Minister Peter Dutton to please have compassion and not deport me and my daughters and be separated from my son, who's an Australian citizen," she said in the emotional footage.
"I've raised him for eight years. I am begging you, please don't take my son away from me."
Mr Dutton's office previously said he's not handling the case and the matter is with Assistant Home Affairs Minister Alex Hawke.
Mr Hawke's office says the case has already been comprehensively assessed by the department and the assistant minister only intervenes in a "relatively small number of cases".
"Child custody matters are beyond the scope of this department and are addressed through the appropriate jurisdiction of family law," it said in a statement.
Ms Romulo said she was still holding out hope that the Minister would change his mind and she would be able to stay with Giro.
"I consider Australia as our home now. I love my job looking after our elderlies. I have survived here in Australia on my own," she said.
"I have raised my here children for 11 years with no support from our government," she said
She added that she just wants enough time to make sure Giro will be all right on his own before she has to leave.
"I just want to raise my son even for a couple more years," Ms Romulo said.
"When he's ready and confident enough to face the world then I'm ready to go as well."