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Immigration Minister all at sea over complaints

Michael Woodhouse is clearly not in command of his portfolio as he simply does not appreciate the scale of the scams in our immigration system relating to job selling, says Labour’s Immigration spokesperson Dr Rajen Prasad.

“The Minister believes that all that victimised migrants who have been scammed for thousands of dollars have to do is to call a phone line at Immigration New Zealand and provide the information.

“He clearly has little appreciation of the scale and nature of the practices adopted by the illegal scammers. They lock people into paying exorbitant fees and leave them dangling on the promise of a job that they hope will eventually qualify them for residence.

“This Minister is not interested in finding out what keeps those complainants from coming forward. Those who scam migrants trade on the vulnerability of migrants because they want to make New Zealand their permanent home. They clearly feel they will lose everything if they complain in a very public way.

“In Parliament today The Minister of Immigration refused to accept that Immigration New Zealand threatened with deportation three people who complained of scams and refused them a visa while their complaint was being investigated. This decision demonstrates the very thing that complainants fear. It took the persistent advocacy of a very experienced lawyer over almost two months for this matter to be addressed.

“The Catch 22 that the Minister refuses to address is that when victims complain, their visas are cancelled or not renewed. If they don’t complain, they pay huge sums of money to illegal scammers and New Zealand does not get the migrants it seeks to attract. Some of the worst cases being reported to my office are from foreign fee paying students.

“The reputation of the New Zealand immigration system will suffer if its integrity is not protected. Many cases have been aired in the media, especially the ethnic media. Callers to radio stations have confirmed many of these scams and have made it clear why they are reluctant to come forward.

“This is why I have asked the Minister to set up an enquiry with sufficient safeguards to allow those who have been scammed to tell their story and expose the elaborate methods that are used by those scammers.”

ENDS

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