Thursday, September 23, 2004

Queue jumpers

The government is offering to review the immigration status of the over 2000 Zimbabweans who have fled their country for New Zealand. Those who can will be given permanent residency under existing rules; others will be given special dispensation.

Despite the title, I actually think this is a Good Thing. It's a great example of us doing our bit for people in need, many of whom have used their temporary refuge to start rebuilding their lives. But at the same time there's no question that these people are getting special treatment and "jumping the queue". Other refugees fleeing similarly shitty regimes and whose need is no less are not given this sort of red-carpet treatment; they are denounced as "queue jumpers" and treated as criminals. What is the reason for the difference in treatment? Simply that refugees from Zimbabwe are overwhelmingly white. Suddenly, this isn't looking like something we should be particularly proud of after all...