Monday, July 23, 2018

Immigration NZ's racism problem

Last week, Immigration NZ quite properly granted visitor visas to a pair of foreign Nazis, because there was no lawful reason to refuse them. Meanwhile, they're refusing to grant visas to visiting human rights activists:

The International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) is meeting in Auckland in early August to discuss projects and policy. It campaigns against human rights abuses, particularly from religious influences, and has representatives at the European Union and United Nations.

Gulalai Ismail from Pakistan has been campaigning since she was 14 for girls' rights to education and women's rights. She has faced death threats and been attacked more than once, but continued her work from outside the country, Humanist Society of NZ president Sara Passmore said.

Ismail's visa application was made after mid-April, but has not had confirmation it has been granted, and two Immigration offices had given contradictory answers about its status. Another board member had been denied entry, one was still awaiting an answer, and another was initially denied and only granted a visa after a lawyer interceded.

All four do work to make their countries and the world a better place, and were all "heroes" in their own right. The response from Immigration NZ was a shock, and "embarrassing for New Zealand", she said.

In both cases, the applicants want to come to New Zealand to speak publicly - the Nazis at their travelling hate show, the human rights activists at an international conference. So why the difference in treatment? Well, the Nazis are from Canada, while the human rights activists are from places with serious human rights problems: Pakistan, Uganda, and Nigeria. And obviously, the only reason anyone from such a country could ever want to come to New Zealand is to live here, and that prior assumption from Immigration means that they discount all evidence to the contrary. Alternatively, we could put it more simply: the Nazis are white...

While the immediate call here is for the Minister to intervene to make sure these people get visas and the conference can go ahead, Immigration obviously has a deep-seated racism problem, and the Minister needs to root it out. It is not appropriate for race, or any proxy for race, to play a role in immigration decisions.