National's new immigration policy attacks refugees for "go[ing] straight onto a benefit", and promises to solve this by denying them access to the welfare system for four years. Quite apart from the obvious problem of refugees being left to starve, this violates our international obligations under the UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. Article 23 of the Convention states:
Article 23. Public relief
The Contracting States shall accord to refugees lawfully staying in their territory the same treatment with respect to public relief and assistance as is accorded to their nationals.
That's pretty clear: we are obligated to treat those we accept as refugees exactly the same as we would New Zealand citizens when it comes to welfare. I wonder what Dr Brash's response to this will be...?
Update: It gets worse - the proposed limit on family sponsorship (again targetted explicitly at refugees) would likely violate a host of international human rights instruments and UN recommendations (as well as common human decency). The office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees regards [PDF] the right of refugees to family unity as
...a basic right which applies irrespective of whether or not a country is a party to the 1951 Convention.
This requires that states make practicable efforts to reunite family members who have been separated, deal with such requests in "a positive, humane, and expeditious manner", and in particular expedite requests from unaccompanied children.
If implemented, National's policy would undermine our excellent international reputation on human rights and refugee issues, and destroy the mana on which our whole foreign policy is based. But what I find most offensive is the subtext: in Brash's worldview, the basic human experience of having a family is only for the rich. This is inhuman, even for Brash; we should be seeking to enable fundamental human wants and needs, not restrict them only to the elite.