Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Deeply dubious

Last week, a senior Immigration NZ manager repeatedly said that Immigration NZ was using racial profiling to target people for deportation. This week, Immigration NZ is in full denial mode about that. They use "demographic profiling" - including age and gender - but

does not consider nationality - and never has done. There is no racial or ethnic profiling undertaken in deportation activity and there never has been.

That's what they've told the Minister, and its what they've told the public. But its also very much at odds with what the person actually in charge of the program said last week. Who are we to believe? As former immigration officer Tze Ming Mok points out, it is possible that nationality was included in withheld parts of the spreadsheet. And when the department in question is infamous for agreeing to "lie in unison" (and lying to the Ombudsman about it), its not outrageous to think they're lying again now.

Of course, what they've admitted is bad enough: gender discrimination and age discrimination for one. And an unhealthy focus on punishing the victims of migrant exploitation:
"Alastair Murray last week talked about targeting people who were incurring health debts and criminal history yet these types of factors have an extremely low weighting in the spreadsheet. All of these migrants who are basically targeted as a high risk to the immigration system are the people who score highly on visa type, number of applications made and the type of employer."

Mr McLymont said there was an emphasis on targeting potential victims of exploitation rather than rooting out the causes of it. He said the minister needed to ask a lot more questions.

And that's explicit in the briefing note: the purpose of the programme was "to identify a group or groups of unlawful migrants who are more likely to commit harm or become victims of harm themselves" (emphasis added). But not to help them, but to throw them out of the country.

This program, its motivations, and what we are being told about it are all deeply dubious. There needs to be a better investigation of it before we can believe immigration's denials.