TOP: Immigration System “beyond Broken”, Call For Major Systemic Overhaul
Royal Commission of Inquiry to be established to ‘reset’ immigration system
- Increase in proof required for partnership visa applicants
- Remove the automatic right to work from international student visas
- Welcome returning Kiwis & world’s thinkers in reverse brain drain due to Covid-19
- Increase refugee quota for Pacific nations threatened by climate change
Weak immigration policy has contributed to the failing house and job markets in Aotearoa, says The Opportunities Party (TOP) in their newly launched immigration policy, Smart Immigration.
TOP are calling for an immediate major overhaul of the immigration system, starting with a Royal Commission of Inquiry.
Former Immigration Minister and TOP spokesperson for immigration, Tuariki Delamere, launched TOP’s Immigration Policy at the Henderson Branch of Immigration New Zealand.
Delamere says that poorly regulated and high immigration have contributed to New Zealand’s broken housing and job markets.
“Through no fault of migrants at all, I’ve witnessed poor immigration policy massively contribute to our decimated job and housing markets over the past decades and we can’t allow this to continue,” says Delamere. “Evidence suggests that migrants are competing with New Zealanders in the job market for low-skilled jobs, a pressure which our post-pandemic economy simply cannot accommodate.”
TOP’s immigration policy proposes establishing a Royal Commission of Inquiry to investigate the failures of the past approaches to immigration.
“Sensible immigration policy is vital for New Zealand and we have a real opportunity to review this now, while our borders are closed in a completely unprecedented manner,” says Delamere. “We are the envy of the world right now and we should build on this.”
TOP Party Leader, Geoff Simmons, agrees, saying that Covid-19 has also given New Zealand an opportunity to review its border and immigration systems as they remain closed to the majority of the world.
“We must first focus on New Zealanders and making sure that everyone who calls this place home has equal access to housing and jobs,” says Simmons. “Our beyond broken systems cannot continue allowing high levels of unwarranted immigration.”
“However, that being said, we’re not anti-migrant or anti-refugee,” continues Delamere. “We actually want to increase the refugee quota for our Pacific cousins. Unwarranted migration has harmed all Kiwis, including immigrants and refugees, who already call this place home.”
The Covid-19 pandemic has led to sudden losses of jobs and income, putting instant financial pressure and stress on countless Kiwis, says Simmons.
“Immigration has the opportunity to improve the lives of all New Zealanders, and Covid-19 has made our country the envy of the world,” says Simmons. “Right now we can be focusing on attracting talent from overseas to help improve New Zealand and our economy.”
TOP’s immigration policy covers the following key areas of reform:
Establish a Royal Commission of Inquiry:
The Commission will evaluate the success of New Zealand’s immigration system in addressing skill shortages, consider the social and economic impacts of high net migration, investigate systemic issues and recommend policy changes.
“Let it be noted that we’re not anti-asylum or anti-migrant, we’re purely anti-poor immigration policy,” says Simmons. “Covid-19 has been a huge wake-up call for us and provides us with an opportunity to further evaluate how open our borders are.”
Increase in proof required for partnership visa applicants
Delamere says that there’s been evidence for a long time that the Family Partnership visa category is subject to major risk of fraud.
“Couples only have to prove that they have lived together for a minimum of 12 months, I remember as a student I had flatmates longer than that,” says Delamere. “TOP proposes that partnership visas should all be conditional to a three-year period, with more evidence provided to prove the relationship is not only genuine, but stable.”
International students will not receive open-work visas
TOP also state that there is evidence that shows most international students complete low-level courses and upon graduation, go on to work semi-skilled service jobs, thus competing with New Zealanders in the labour market.
“TOP will end the practice of open-work visas for graduates” says Delamere.
Under TOP’s immigration policy, only those with prospective employment in a field that meets updated skills shortage criteria will be entitled to remain in New Zealand upon completion of studies.
Simmons continues by saying that the fragile housing market and job markets are a clear sign that our immigration policies have failed in the past, but now we need to focus on rebuilding these parts of our economy for the future.
“New Zealand needs immigration, and we definitely need skilled migrants to support our economy. We welcome those migrants,” says Simmons. “But we need to fix our economy first, and only then can we reconsider more open immigration approaches.”
“Right now, more than ever, it needs to be about Kiwis first.”