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2 Pinay moms fail in final bid to stay with kids in Hong Kong

06 August 2018

Two Filipina mothers have failed to get permission from the High Court to go to the Court of Final Appeal to challenge the Immigration Department’s refusal to let them stay on in Hong Kong to be with their resident children.

Milagros T. Comilang, Desiree R. Luis and their co-applicant/co-appellant children, who were all on Legal Aid, were also ordered by the Court of Appeal on Jul 24 to pay the Immigration Director’s court costs of $250,000.

The High Court.
Comilang and Luis, both former domestic helpers, filed separate applications on Jun 4 to seek leave to appeal the appellate court’s decision denying them the right to remain in Hong Kong so they could look after their children who are all minors.

Named as co-applicants were Comilang’s daughter Zarah Noor Ahmed and Luis’ three sons David John, Carl Benz and Mark Joelry.

Gladys Li, SC,who represented the mothers, cited “great general or public importance” as the main ground for asking for leave to appeal. She also cited international laws to support her claim that the CA had failed to consider the appeal properly.

The two mothers and their children, through Li, raised nine questions, including whether a non-Hong Kong resident parent-caregiver and her resident child could not rely on Art 37 of the Basic Law to guarantee their enjoyment of family life in Hong Kong.

The three justices sitting as Court of Appeal, answered all the questions point by point, before refusing the application.

While accepting that the case could have potential impact on other families similarly situated, the CA said they were not convinced any of the questions raised on behalf of the appellants were reasonably arguable and satisfied the requirements for using the “general public interest” ground.

The application stemmed from the decision by the Court of Appeal on Mar 26 this year, dismissing the appellants’ challenge to the Director of Immigration’s decision denying them the right to remain in Hong Kong.

Comilang married a Pakistani citizen in April 2005 and gave birth to Zahrah on Feb 2, 2006, who acquired permanent residency by birth. Since September 2007, Comilang had made several futile applications to extend her stay in Hong Kong so she could take care of her daughter.

Desiree Luis married a fellow Filipino domestic helper in 1997, and they had four sons, the
eldest of whom was born in the Philippines and the three others in Hong Kong. Her second son has gained permanent resident status.

Since 2011, Luis had applied but failed to get an extension of stay to take care of her three sons in Hong Kong, so she overstayed. In May 2014, Luis applied for leave for judicial review, which was granted her in July that year.

However, her appeal against the Director’s rejection of her application to stay in Hong Kong was also denied in March this year.

The Court was made up of Vice President Justice of Appeal Jeremy Poon, who penned the decision; and Chief Judge Andrew Cheung and Vice President Justice of Appeal Johnson Lam.

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