Staff Reporter –
Political Parties in the opposition benches have closed ranks to come down heavily on the deportation orders against a small group of international students from India.
The controversy over deportation has been raging since August last year when the government issued marching orders against the students.
Migrant Workers Association has been supporting the affected students.
Spokesperson Anu Kaloti said that Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse and the then Associate Minister Craig Floss had refused to meet the students and the Committee of Representatives from The Catholic Church, The Anglican Church, Barrister Rodney Harrison QC and the Secretary of New Zealand Council of Trade Unions supporting them.
Ms Kaloti said that international students pay between $15,000 and $35,000 to study in New Zealand and a spokesperson for a group of nine students told ‘Checkpoint,’ a television programme hosted by John Campbell that they had no idea that the papers they had submitted were fake.
Ms Kaloti described the situation as ‘absolutely appalling.’
“I am really angry, furious and frustrated. These young people have spent so much money to acquire meaningful, high quality skills and qualifications and their parents have put all they have into it; and at the end of it, they are being punished for something they have not done,” she said.
Ms Kaloti said that a majority of the students came from middle or low income families and that they faced a dim future because of the deportation order.
There would be a lot of social stigma for the students if they returned home without a qualification, even though it was not their fault,” she said.
Steven Joyce, who was Tertiary Education Minister at the time, said that the ultimate responsibility rested with the students.
“They have to make a declaration that all the information that they supplied to New Zealand is correct. They make that declaration when they submit their visa applications, and, yes, they get agents to advise them; but it is squarely and clearly the responsibility of the student,” he said.
Labour seeks compassion
Labour Party Immigration Spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway said:
The ejection of 41 international students, who now have deportation orders against them after the Minister has coldly rejected their appeals, is further evidence of a government that is heartless and out of touch.
The plight of these students who are seeking refuge in a church, and the potential for immigration officials and police to be raiding this church to extract the students, could cause significant damage to New Zealand’s reputation as a welcoming and progressive country – especially for international education.
In the current global climate, this simply is not wise, and it is likely the rest of the 300 students will suffer the same fate as the 41 who are now hiding from authorities.
This is a manifestly unjust situation for these students. There is no evidence of the students themselves having done wrong but they are being punished while the rogue agents get off scot-free.
The situation has arisen because of a cowboy industry that the National Government has taken no responsibility for controlling. It is the students whose lives are being ruined, and New Zealand’s reputation will suffer.
The Immigration Minister has failed these students and New Zealand for not exercising any discretion or common sense by rejecting their appeals.
The students should simply have their applications assessed on the merits with those eligible being able to stay.
It is about time we had a Government that offers compassion and natural justice.
New Zealand First
National First Leader said:
National should hang its head in shame for deporting Indian students, says New Zealand First.
The fault for corruption in the international education sector lies at the feet of Minister Steven Joyce, not the students. The students are the victims.
Mr Joyce pumped up the Export Education industry so private enterprise could profit. He ignored the need to set up standards and a full-proof system.
The mighty dollar was the only priority.
Massive fraud occurred, with crooked agents and officials funnelling thousands of eager students to claim commission payments.
Now the truth has come out, Mr Joyce is passing the buck and deporting students who have been taken to the cleaners financially and educationally.
It is believed eight to 10 Indian students here might have been misled by agents.
Clearly, much of this sector is based on fraud. It is time for a full-scale investigation into Export Education fraud.
What has New Zealand come to when we allow Indian families to be fleeced in the name of building an industry?
National supporters must be thoroughly ashamed at the basic lack of fairness and humanity of their representatives.
Denise Roche of Green Party issued the following statement:
The Minister for Immigration’s refusal to show compassion to Indian students affected by visa fraud is further evidence of National’s unfair immigration system.
Minister Woodhouse is refusing to help these students, but he and his National Party colleagues are happy to speed up immigration arrangements for Trump-supporting billionaires like Peter Thiel. This is a sad example of the two-tier immigration system that National has set up.
These students have paid tens of thousands of dollars to study in New Zealand and were taken advantage of by unscrupulous immigration agents, who made false statements on their behalf without their knowledge or consent.
It is unjust to send these students home without giving them an opportunity to at least complete the qualification that they have already paid for.
If the Government is willing to intervene in the case of Peter Thiel, then surely it can show some compassion to these students, who want nothing more than the right to complete their study.
The Minister should exercise special ministerial discretion to restore the student-visa status of these young people.
Picture by Radio New Zealand