Venkat Raman –
While the fate of the international students from India facing deportation is still not known, their cause is receiving increasing support from a cross-section of the society, says the Migrant Workers Association.
Association Spokesperson Anu Kaloti said in a statement that among the supporters of the move to cancel the deportation orders of what she called, ‘hundreds of students’ (mostly from Punjab and Hyderabad in India) are the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions, Unite Union, Socialist Aotearoa, First Union, The Catholic Church, The Anglican Church, Labour Party, Green Party, The Communist League, Racial Equity Aotearoa, Panthak Vichar Manch, Azad Rang Manch and Radio Inqilab.
“This has now truly turned into a campaign that is gathering strength very fast. The evidence lies in the fact that the Prime Minister of New Zealand and many of his MPs are consistently being asked by media and the public about the student deportations and about the solution,” she said.
It is almost two months ago that Immigration New Zealand (INZ) declared that at least 100 international students from India (most Punjab and Hyderabad) had submitted fake documents while seeking admission to tertiary education institutions (generally known as Private Training Establishments) and that they should return home.
The students contend that they are victims of unscrupulous immigration or education agents in India and hence they should be allowed to stay.
We understand that much of the non-compliance relates to false bank account statements with inflated balances issued to INZ to gain student visa approval.
Ms Kaloti described this as unfair.
“It is unfair because India-based unscrupulous immigration agents acting on students’ behalf submitted fraudulent financial documents as evidence for living expenses to INZ. The agents have been committing this fraud together with corrupt Indian bank officials. The students had no knowledge of this fraud. This fraudulent activity has been revealed in an investigation report publicised in June 2016 by the Mumbai office of INZ. How is it fair to punish the students for something they have not done?”
She also called on PTEs to own up some responsibility.
“Since receiving deportation orders, the affected students have been almost abandoned by the PTEs and been referred back to India-based agents who are nowhere to be found. Many have been stopped from attending classes. New Zealand Qualification Authority’s code requires all PTEs to comply with Pastoral Care of International Students whereby the PTEs are responsible for the students’ mental health and wellbeing,” she said.
Ms Kaloti accused the two Indian MPs of the National Party of nonchalance.
“Both MPs have been repeating standardised statements handed down from their bosses that the matter is in the hand of Immigration Minister and that it would not be appropriate for them to comment. While the students and their supporters have been successful in building a strong campaign, the journey is not over until the demands have been met,” she said.
What the students demand:
- Cancellation of deportation orders
- Permission to stay in New Zealand to complete education
- Permission to apply for one year open term work visa upon completion of education