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Hysteria over 'migrant scam' risks harming NZ

Hysteria over 'migrant scam' risks harming New Zealand

The Government's use of what it concedes is 'anecdotal' evidence to change the work rules for guardians of overseas students is foolishly short-sighted, Green Party Education Spokesperson Metiria Turei says.

"Immigration Minister David Cunliffe is letting himself be pushed around by his departmental bureaucrats.

"It is another example of an immigration policy driven more by a reactionary scramble to keep alleged undesirables out, than by a balanced vision of how we should be attracting in the sort of people we need.

"In the case of guardians applying for work permits, there is no firm evidence that this is a widespread problem. Reportedly, some 7000 people have applied for work permits since the scheme was introduced several years ago.

"The Government has provided no independent research into whether this level was unduly high or widely driven by fraudulent intent, before the decision to change the rules was taken.

"The whole episode smacks of the anti-Asian sentiment fostered by some elements of the current Government during last year's election campaign. I doubt whether such 'anecdotal' evidence would be being acted upon if the guardians concerned came from England.

"The reality is that this scheme was introduced in the wake of several notorious examples of abuse of overseas students. Changing the work rules in a way that will make it all but impossible for guardians to make a living here is a knee-jerk response that can only harm New Zealand's ability to present itself as a society that welcomes overseas students, and cares about keeping them safe," Mrs Turei says.

"Those few who may have been deliberately abusing the system should be prosecuted, without changing the rules for everyone else, who are meeting a genuine need.

"To save a few bucks in the short term, New Zealand risks harming its reputation among the very people that we need to attract, for our future economic well-being."


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