Lawyer slams National’s Immigration Policy as misleading

“New income threshold and ‘Clean system’ will bring down numbers”
“Cheats, human traffickers and exploiters are rotting our system”

Alastair McClymont

The Indian, Chinese and other ethnic communities are all talking about Immigration and the election. There is a lot of talk about the reduction of immigration numbers.

But Immigration is not about numbers, it is not about a monetary value, it is about human beings and basic respect for the rights of other people.

Being in the somewhat unique position of having worked in the field of Immigration Law for nine years under a National Government and nine years under a Labour government, I feel qualified to comment on the approach of both parties to immigration.

Labour’s Approach

The Labour Party have not said that they want to reduce migration by at least 20,000. What they have said is that they want to bring a stop to the immigration scam which sees tens of thousands of students each year being lured into the country with false promises, delivered sub-standard education and then thrown into an exploitative labour market where they work long hours for low wages while holding on to the desperate hope of residency. They estimate that by closing this glorified people smuggling scheme, this will reduce net migration by 20,000 a year.

National’s route

And make no mistake about it, net migration will reduce by similar numbers anyway under the new immigration policies introduced by the National Government. Policies that continue to attract international students into sub-standard courses and send them into the labour market to work in low wage, exploitative industries with absolutely no hope of ever obtaining residency will result simply in a system which continues to con international students to come here with a promise of work and residency then after taking their money, send them back after using their cheap labour for several years and cutting off all avenues for residency.

So, what’s the difference then/ Net migration will reduce under both party’s policies. National however want to continue scamming gullible international students out of their money and forcing them to work for low wages to repay study debts, while Labour is promising to bring an end to the scam which is exploiting young vulnerable students and workers.

The difference

Let us look at what other developments have happened with Immigration under a National Government. In the 9 years of a National Government we’ve seen hard working and good migrants being deprived of the ability to sponsor their parents to live here, we’ve seen an Immigration Department actively targeting Indian migrants, we’ve seen an Immigration Department grasping for ways to decline visa application by an Indian while providing a generous and flexible visa system for anyone from  white Western European countries, we’ve seen an Immigration Department targeting Indian agent fraud whilst ignoring Chinese agent fraud (Chinese students bring a lot more money into the country than Indian students), we’ve seen a massive reduction in the legal rights of migrants so much so that immigration officials will now quite comfortably admit that it’s irrelevant if they didn’t intend to make a mistake, that they are presumed guilty because they’re a migrant and that the same rights that New Zealanders have don’t apply if you’re a migrant.

Anti-Indian stance

Try being an Indian who is one day late in submitting their visa application, try being an Indian who pleads to the Minister of Immigration to be allowed to stay here with their spouse and children, try being an Indian who has their visa declined when the officer doesn’t believe you because of your ethnicity, try being an Indian who sees white people being granted visas when making the same mistakes that has just led to your own visa being declined then tell me that this is a pro migrant government.

These were not the characteristics of the Immigration system in the nine years of the previous Labour Government. In those days, migrants were not numbers, they were not dollar signs in an export education industry, they were human beings. People who had families, children, parents, partners, hopes and dreams.

We now have an immigration system which is characterised by racial and ethnic bias, an absence of human rights for migrants, allowing fraudulent and corrupt agents and schools to continue operating and using migrant numbers as a pool of cheap and easily exploited labour, because simply, it’s good for business.

Cash Cows

This government does not treat migration as the movement of people with hopes, dreams and families. They treat them as a source of money, their humanity no longer has any value. The role of the Indian National Party MPS is to fund raise for the party within the community. Do they care about Indians here? For them, the migrants are at fault.

If you get conned out of your money, it’s your fault, if your school is sub-standard, it’s the students fault for choosing it, if they can’t get the work and resident visas they’ve been promised, it’s their fault. However, these MPs are all well-loved and appear in photos on all the Facebook pages of Education Agents, School Owners, small business employers and Immigration Advisors because these are the people making a profit out of the immigration system as it is now.

So, is National a pro migrant party/ No, they are not. National are anti-migrant because they want their money, they want the business and they want the cheap labour. They don’t want the people, or their families or care for their hopes and dreams for a better life.

Transparent Labour

Labour’s policies suffer only because they are transparent. Labour will tell you that the current Student Visa policy is a scam, is cheating students and is ripping off vulnerable Indians because, it’s the truth. They will tell you that the mass of student visas in low income courses simply enriches schools and agents and provides a cheap labour force, because it’s the truth.

For the National Party, immigration is about the money and the ability of the select few to make a profit. I hope for a better future, one in which this country treats everyone as an equal, that treats all migrants with a basic humanity and has respect for those hard-working people who dream of a better life.

I believe a change in government will help achieve that goal.

Alastair McClymont is an Auckland-based Immigration Law Specialist. The above is the full version of his article. Our print edition carries a highly edited version.

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