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What Exactly Makes An Immigration Touch Soft?

What Exactly Makes An Immigration Touch Soft?
Tony Ryall, Zimbabwean Farmers And The Tampa Refugees

By Kevin List

National Party Immigration Spokesman Tony Ryall

National Party immigration spokesperson Tony Ryall today accused the Government of enabling ''immigration by stealth'' in the Dominion Post.

Mr Ryall's concerns related to the situation regarding the number of Tampa refugees [from the Norwegian freighter Tampa] in New Zealand and highlighted the fact that some of refugees' families and relations had joined them in New Zealand.

Mr Ryall said the fact that New Zealand's policy allows families to be re-united is sending a poor message to the rest of the world. "It's little wonder we are seen as a soft touch," he told the Dominion Post.

Meanwhile, last week the New Zealand Government instituted a policy exception that could see more than 2000 Zimbabwean citizens already in New Zealand gain permanent residence. And in time these migrants too will be able to bring family members to New Zealand under the family reunification immigration policy.

With these two apparently similar cases on the table at the same time Scoop wondered whether perhaps there could be more than one standard by which the National Party's Immigration spokesman sees fit to judge would be migrants.


Tony Ryall's Initial Reaction To The Zimbabwe Immigration Exception

At the time the Zimbabwean Immigration exception was announced last Friday Scoop sought clarification from Tony Ryall about how this particular policy would work and whether New Zealand could be seen as a "soft touch" by easing immigration restrictions on Zimbabweans already in New Zealand.

Mr Ryall was somewhat reticent about criticising the government's policy regarding Zimbabwean migrants.

"We haven't said anything because we can understand why they [the Government] are doing it," he said. Mr Ryall's primary concern regarding the Zimbabwean policy exception seemed to relate to the government's alleged indifference to agriculture

"The real issue with anything to do with the Zimbabweans is that the fact government doesn't consider agriculture to be a skilled qualification - and we'll be having a go at that in Parliament" he said. This matter has also been of concern to Federated Farmers.

When pushed as to the details of how the government's Zimbabwe policy exception was going to work Mr Ryall shied away from expressing any specific view.

"Probably we won't be getting into it – it's a bit of a no-brainer where [if we make a statement] the public thinks why would we be picking on these people?"

Clearly given today's concern that New Zealand could be seen as a soft touch for allowing the re-unification of Tampa refugee families involving a few hundred individuals Tony Ryall has no concerns about being seen to pick on them however.

Scoop caught up with Mr Ryall and posed a few questions regarding today's Dominion Post article.


Questions On The Tampa Refugees And New Zealand Being Seen As A "Soft Touch"

The Norwegian freighter Tampa which was intercepted by the Australian navy with several hundred middle-eastern refugees. Many of the refugees were subsequently taken to Nauru beginning the policy now known as the "Pacific solution".

Scoop: The original Tampa refugees came in under the UNHCR Quota of 750 refugees in the year they first arrived didn't they?

Tony Ryall: Yes that's is right even though they weren't UN approved.

Scoop: Checking through the other years it seems as if the family re-unification of the Tampa refugees also occurred yet again within the 750 UNHCR places.

Mohammed Latif

Amin Jan
Two Tampa Refugees take drastic steps to attract attention to their incarceration in Nauru.

Tony Ryall: There's some confusion there because I assumed they came in under the separate family re-unification procedure, whereas the answer given to Oskar Alley [Dominion Post journalist] was that they [Tampa re-unification refugees] came in under the UNHCR quota of 750 people.

Scoop: Have spontaneous refugee numbers been dropping since the implementation of Advanced Passenger Processing (APP)?

Tony Ryall: It [the spontaneous refugee category] was running at about 950 people a couple of years ago, dropped to 650 last financial year and in 2003-04 it was 411.

Scoop: So that category has dropped significantly?

Tony Ryall: It has halved


Questions On The Zimbabwean Policy Exception And New Zealand As A Soft Touch

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe whose land confiscations have led to the exodus of large numbers of white farmers.

Scoop: You said [in today's Dominion Post] that you were concerned New Zealand could be seen as a soft touch – was that correct?

Tony Ryall: Yes.

Scoop: But you are not concerned that millions of Zimbabweans will consider New Zealand is a soft touch?

Tony Ryall: I don't think there's much doubt about that – however the point I was making with the written questions regarding refugees was that the original Tampa boys have brought in more than 200 family members.

Scoop: Won't giving 2300 Zimbabwean residents permanent residence make New Zealand seem a soft touch for Zimbabweans – even more so than 200 Tampa refugee family members?

Tony Ryall: But the Zimbabweans are already here.

Scoop: Yes but won't they [the Zimbabweans] be able to bring their families and relatives in when they become permanent residents?

Tony Ryall: As I've discussed previously I am not completely informed regarding the Zimbabwean situation - which is why I haven't made a statement on it. But I'll have a look at it.


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