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Government must reinstate overstayer appeal rights

October 11, 2000

Government must reinstate appeal rights for overstayers

Yesterday's deportation of a Filipino family was an ominous precedent for thousands of overstayer families who do not qualify for the government's recently announced amnesty, Green MP Keith Locke said today.

"To avoid further human tragedy, the government should order a halt to instant deportations and reinstate appeal rights lost by many overstayers on October 1," said Mr Locke, the party's immigration spokesperson.

"The Mila family may have been subject to an administrative slip up in that they did have an appeal in the system," he said.

"But I'm worried about 15,000 other overstayers, on government figures, who have lost their appeal rights and could get the same treatment. They'll be kicked out of a country they now consider home.

"Suddenly one day they won't be turning up to work and their kids won't be at school. There's no chance to explain their disappearance, pick up a reference from their boss, say goodbye to friends and relatives," he said.

"There are good reasons why some overstayers haven't appealed for the right to stay here. They have no access to legal aid, the appeal process is expensive, and there has been a great deal of confusion about the new immigration provisions, the criteria by which their cases will be judged and the options that are open to them.

"There are also language barriers when dealing with Immigration Service staff, and not surprisingly there is a lot of fear about approaching authorities without being clear themselves what the likely outcome of that will be," said Mr Locke.

"There's no justification for a 'get tough' policy. We are not overburdened by migrants. In fact, New Zealand has a net annual outflow of over 10,000 people.

"The last thing New Zealand needs is a return to the notorious 'dawn raids', with all the anguish that went with them," said Mr Locke.

Keith Locke MP: 04 4706710

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