Politics of Immigration: Part 2
By Mel Fernandez
Pix: Roshan Nauhria (left) with his Deputy Leader, Steven Ching
AUCKLAND – Expect dramatic changes to the current immigration rules if the New Zealand People’s Party garners enough party votes – 5 to 6% – to enter Parliament after the upcoming Elections on 23rd September. This was the promise of the party’s leader Roshan Nauhria when he spoke with Migrant News recently at their Party Headquarters in Sandringham, Auckland.
According to Roshan, the results of an informal survey undertaken by the Party confirmed that immigration is one of the top most concerns of Asian communities in New Zealand. He feels that the tightening of immigration rules during the pre-election phase appears to be haphazard and its implications are stressing out both the new and settled migrants. Migrants are looking to the political parties to address their concerns. “People take priority over politics,” he added.
“Asian culture is different from that in European countries because our families are close-knit,” explained Roshan. “What we are saying is that if we bring the parents and families of migrants over here as well then the contribution to the economy is proportionately a lot more. Our Asian people make up only 14% of the population, but their contribution to the economy is 20% or more. Although we are bringing the parents and family over we are not putting a burden on either the health or the welfare system. We contribute more than our fair share.”
The current government has been tinkering with the immigration policy over many years and some of the changes have not been popular. Recently the Minister of Immigration, Michael Woodhouse, had to back down on proposed changes to the skilled migrant category when employers and migrants vehemently opposed it.
Similarly, in 2012 when the government scaled back the Last Family Member Visa it put a damper on migrants’ desires to be reunited with their families. According to Roshan the NZ People’s Party intends to rectify this. “We will give Immigration New Zealand the resources to process these visas in a reasonable time,” he added. “Successful applicants will automatically be granted a 2-year visa. Applicants must be able to support themselves or be supported by their family during this time.”
Likewise, the Party intends to reopen the Parent Visa category. Parents will initially be granted a 5-year work visa, after which they can apply for permanent residence. During the 5-year period parents must either work to support themselves or be supported by their families.
Finally, the Party intends to reinstate the Family Reunification Visa and review the situation of all International Students who are currently in New Zealand so as to give them “a fair shot at what they were promised”.
Q & A:
MN: Is your party in favour of cutting immigration numbers?
ROSHAN: We are not too concerned about the numbers. What we want is fair immigration.
The number of people being allowed to come over will change – it can go up and down – depending on the requirements of the economy.
If you want to reduce the number of people coming over then don’t also reduce the families coming in. They are two different issues.
The parent category should be open again.
MN: How would your party deal with the future of international students who have come here in the hope of gaining permanent residence?
ROSHAN: Students who are already here came under the impression that studying in New Zealand was a pathway to residency. But this opportunity has been backtracked. You are backstabbing them – which is not right.
We need to offer these students an open work permit if they are willing to take up courses which address our skill shortages. Once they finish their course we can then give them a work permit so they can work anywhere.
MN: If we are bringing in Filipino workers long term to fill our skill shortages should they be offered permanent residency?
ROSHAN: Yes. If you give them a work permit, it implies that they are good workers. So why don’t we want to give them permanent residency here? We might want to give them a 2-year work permit after which they can apply for permanent residency after the required vetting – checking their medical history, criminal convictions if any and a good reference from the employer etc.