Monday, 7 September 2015

Ways NZ can increase its refugee quota

New Zealand's refugee quota, at 750 per year, hasn't increased in decades. Here are a few ways it could be increased given the constraint that central government doesn't really seem to want to increase it. [Update: it looks like the government will add a few hundred Syrian refugees on top of the current overall quota.]
  1. Kickstarter. If the government reckons it costs some amount to support new refugees, raise a pile of money on PledgeMe, divide it by that number, then ask the government to allow in the n refugees for which we've raised funding. In Canada, they reckon it's about $32,000 for a family of six. If it's the same here, every $32,000 raised should let in a family of six on top of existing quota. So if everybody in the country chipped in $10, that's over 1400 more families. I commit to putting in $500 if somebody sets this up. The PledgeMe should only charge us if the government holds up its side and lets people in.
  2. Local options. Local and regional councils should be allowed to specify refugee quotas above the current national quota where they also agree to take on the initial settlement costs. Those councils could do that through coordination with local community groups prepared to help out. If Dunedin thinks it could handle a thousand refugees, let Dunedin bring in a thousand refugees. Lots of regions seem to think they can do it.
  3. Community support. This is a variant on (1), above. In Canada, groups of 5 individuals can sponsor a refugee by committing to assist the refugee during the resettlement process. This wouldn't help in the current crisis because you have to pick people off of existing lists, but it could increase the quota above the current 750 without particular costs to the government. 
A few necessary caveats. First, the current refugee crisis is terrible, but it would be non-trivial to really assist there. Getting refugees from Eastern Europe to here does not seem simple. Second, as visible and terrible as the current refugee situation there is, is it more terrible than refugee situations that have been endemic in Africa for ages? All of these point to overall and ongoing increases in the quota rather than targeted ones. 

And remember that relaxing land use planning to allow more housing and apartment construction in places where refugees could find jobs would also help. 

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