Monday 19 July 2021

Treating migrants badly

When we moved to New Zealand in 2003, the contrast between the US Immigration system and New Zealand's was stark. 

They were near opposite, really. 

The US system seemed designed to discourage entry. 

New Zealand's was far better. 

I had received the job offer from Canterbury by March 2003. I accepted and put in for a skilled migrant visa. There was no need for an immigration lawyer because everything was simple. The only complication happened when the Canadians took forever to run my police background check. The FBI ran my prints and took about 3 weeks to say I wasn't known to be a criminal. The Canadians got my prints at the same time and took 4 or 5 months. They took so long that my medical certificates from the US expired while I was waiting. 

So I had to redo the medical check while on a post-doc in Germany. 

All of it meant that my paperwork was only fully completed for the Kiwis far later than I'd have liked. Our worldly possessions were in a 40' shipping container on their way to NZ; we were in Germany and set to leave for NZ in a bit over a month. But a phone call to Immigration NZ had it all sorted; they rushed the paperwork through to make it all work. It wasn't their fault, it was the useless Canadians. But they still jumped to help, so we wouldn't be stuck.

That's just how things worked here. 

After we got here, we put through our paperwork for residence as quickly as we could. You had to be in country for a period first, and then the government revamped the points system for residence and we had to wait a few months while that was bedding in. But it was obvious that it was all going to sort out. 

It ain't like that any more. 

Dileepa Fonseca goes through some of the ways that it just isn't working any more.

It is easy to pull the rug out from under thousands of migrant workers, but nobody ever tells you the carpet might just bounce back and hit you in the face.

The country is now overwhelmed by a wave of economic capacity issues most of which are linked in some way to severely reduced migration and border flows.

Which is why, after scrambling to let migrants know they are not welcome the Government is frantically moving in the opposite direction.

If you were a migrant and feeling angry about how things have gone since lockdown you might take a strange sort of comfort in the way inflation has spiked, job vacancy advertisements have soared, job re-training budgets have proven woefully inadequate to the task of retraining people, and employers have been unable to fill vacancies.

... The Government tightened the screws on these workers last year when it started renewing their visas in short six-month increments at a time when they were at their most powerless.

What were they going to do? Back then no vaccine had been approved in the United States and flights were few and far between. Even if you caught one, any place worth flying to was probably still in lockdown. The only rational decision was to suck it up, live with the uncertainty, and await a new press release from the immigration minister (first ​Iain Lees-Galloway then ​Kris Faafoi) every few months.

Fonseca has a few bits from me in the piece as well. 

I used to be about the strongest advocate there is for moving to New Zealand. I'd constantly berate people for not having moved to New Zealand. Under Helen Clark, and under John Key, it was just a great place to move to. 

I can't recommend that any more. 

The first term of the Ardern government saw Immigration NZ's job change from facilitating migration to stockpiling applications and using bureaucratic process to discourage people from moving here. They should have been up on charges for fraud, really. They were taking applications and charging fees for the applications while knowing full well they won't be processed. I expect that a private company doing anything similar for any service would have been hit by the consumer protection side of MBIE. 

The government now says it wants to attract skilled migrants. Well, if you're considering moving here, caveat emptor. Read everything about how Labour has been treating the migrants who are here. And choose somewhere else. Being here is fine if you have residence. But coming in and trying to get residence now seems a bad idea. 

1 comment:

  1. Gawd! I feel that way and I was born here!

    New Zealand's the pits at the moment