Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Immigration Act Review: Other Voices

I'll have my next post on the government's Immigration Act Review out sometime this afternoon, but in the meantime other people have weighed in on the topic. Over on Observationz, Rich takes issue with the proposed purpose clause, which lists New Zealand's interests in controlling immigration as being

  1. maintaining the safety and security of New Zealand
  2. generating sustainable economic growth
  3. establishing strong communities
  4. fulfilling New Zealand’s role as a good international citizen, and
  5. promoting international cooperation.

He particularly takes issue with 1, which seems to be interpreted rather broadly to conflate the finacial risk of accepting people with health problems with national security, and 3, which is outright social engineering and pandering to creps like Winston. Instead he suggestes replacing the former with a simpler "prevention of crimes and hostile acts", and adding the goal of "protecting the rights and interests of migrants" - something which tends to be conspicuously ignored in these debates.

Meanwhile, Tze Ming has an overview of her objections so far which cuts right to the chase:

The stated third objective of the Immigration Act review is to "establish fair, firm and fast decision-making processes." This objective supports a balance between fairness, procedural integrity, and efficiency. However, numerous proposals in the discussion paper are unbalanced away from fairness and in favour of fast decision-making and 'firmness' of state sovereignty (rather than of procedural integrity).

Shifting the balance in this way will give us an immigration system which is arbitrary, unjust, and unaccountable. It would also be deeply at odds with New Zealand values. While being able to reject applications on the basis of secret information or without having to provide justification would no doubt make things easier for immigration officials, I don't think mere administrative convenience should be elevated to a central goal of policymaking.

Tze Ming also hooks into the proposals to routinely use secret "evidence" (which seems to ignore the lessons of the Zaoui case), allow immigration officers to arrest, detain, and search without warrant, and undermine the status of permanant residents by treating them the same as temporary permit holders. It's a good summary of the core problems, and well worth reading.


There are ominous parallels here to the way the government treats another vulnerable class of people - those suffering personal injury. ACC's legislation was memorably described by Rodney Harrison as seemingly "designed to produce gross injustice to claimants at every turn for the sake of administrarive convenience to the Corporation". SInce the inception of that legislation in the early 1990s ACC has become a byword for cruelty, oppression and sheer ineptitude. There is no ministerial accountability and people shafted by ACC have no opportunity for justice. It seems that the government has learned all the wrong lessons from ACC and is now throoughly captured by its officials.

Posted by Anonymous : 4/26/2006 04:14:00 PM