Monday, April 16, 2018

This is just wrong

Imagine living somewhere for your entire life, and then being jailed as an overstayer pending deportation "back" to a foreign country. That's what's happening to Mark Middleton:

Mark Middleton was once a popular choice to become Whanganui's Member of Parliament ... now he is facing deportation.

The stepfather of murdered schoolgirl Karla Cardno has been ordered to leave New Zealand after overstaying for more than 30 years.

Middleton, who came to live in New Zealand with his British parents as a 4-year-old in 1962, said immigration officials stormed his workplace on Tuesday, accusing him of living in the country illegally.

He was arrested and put in a cell at a Wellington police station until Wednesday afternoon.

There's an obvious parallel with the UK's current persecution of the "windrush generation", who are being told they are illegal migrants despite having arrived in the UK legally and having a legal right to remain. Over there, the problem is poor government record-keeping and a guilty-until-proven-innocent attitude in immigration cases. Here, its a poorly-drafted transition clause in the Immigration Act 1987, which required pre-1974 migrants to have never left New Zealand (except to go to Australia) in order to have their residency survive the law change. Which when you're talking about people who came here as children and are likely unaware that they are not citizens, seems guaranteed to result in injustice. And oddly, that doesn't seem to have been a problem at the time, or subsequently - despite having supposedly ignored an immigration direction to normalise his status, Middleton was allowed to continue his life without being bothered, and was even able to run for Parliament in 1999 (something you'd think Immigration would notice if they were actually concerned about his citizenship status). Instead, it only seems to have become an issue now he's getting old and in line to be paid superannuation - or, in immigration-speak, become "high risk".

Middleton has lived here all his life. He is a kiwi in fact, if not in law. Deporting him is simply wrong. Charging him money for the status he is entitled to is simply wrong. The Minister should issue him with citizenship or permanent residency, and let him get on with his life.