www.iwk.co.nz28 February 2014
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T E R T I A R Y C O L L E G E S G R O U P
Crackdown on worker abuse
Immigration scam victims need to be heard, says Prasad
mmigration ofcers will gain police-like
powers to enter and search homes without a warrant under law changes designed to stamp out exploitation of migrants - a move that is being questioned by lawyers and civil rights groups.The Government is cracking down on migrant exploitation after reports of international students and temporary visa holders being underpaid, trapped on their employers’ premises and, in extreme cases, forced into prostitution.At present, immigration laws offer protection to illegal migrants who are exploited, but not to migrants who are legitimately working here. The Immigration Amendment Bill (No 2) will introduce heavy penalties including deportation for migrant bosses or business owners who exploit workers.As part of the reforms, Immigration New
Zealand ofcials will be given greater tools to
crack down on worker abuse.Immigration New Zealand staff already have powers to enter premises but only to serve a deportation notice and only if they have reasonable grounds to believe the person is in the building.
If the bill passes, ofcials will be able to
apply for and execute search warrants, instead of requiring police to execute the warrant. They will be able to search employers’ premises without a warrant to search for employees or documents, and compel bosses or workers to answer questions.The bill also explicitly states that the powers will not be limited to business premises, but will apply to homes or dwellings.Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse said this week the bill aimed to give authorities the powers needed to effectively enforce the Immigration Act. Analysis by the Ministry of Justice found that the changes were consistent with the Bill of Rights.
The bill passed its rst reading with
support from all parties except Mana, though Labour and Greens questioned whether some provisions could breach human rights.
- Arvind Kumar
Immigration New Zealand staff already have powers to enter premises but only to serve a deportation notice and only if they have reasonable grounds to believe the person is in the building.
abour MP Rajen Prasad has hit out at Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse over claims of Government inaction over the practices of illegal scammers.“Michael Woodhouse is clearly not in command of his portfolio as he simply does not appreciate the scale of the scams in our immigration system relating to job selling,” said Dr Prasad, who is his party’s immigration spokesman.“The Minister believes that all that victimised migrants who have been scammed for thousands of dollars have to do is to call a phone line at Immigration New Zealand and provide the information. “He clearly has little appreciation of the scale and nature of the practices adopted by the illegal scammers,” Dr Prasad said.“They lock people into paying exorbitant fees and leave them dangling on the promise of a job that they hope will eventually qualify them for residence.
“This Minister is not interested in nding
out what keeps those complainants from coming forward. Those who scam migrants trade on the vulnerability of migrants because they want to make New Zealand their permanent home. They clearly feel they will lose everything if they complain in a very public way,” he said.“In Parliament today The Minister of Immigration refused to accept that Immigration New Zealand threatened with deportation three people who complained of scams and refused them a visa while their complaint was being investigated. “This decision demonstrates the very thing that complainants fear. It took the persistent advocacy of a very experienced lawyer over almost two months for this matter to be addressed,” Dr Prasad said.“The Catch 22 that the Minister refuses to address is that when victims complain, their visas are cancelled or not renewed. If they don’t complain, they pay huge sums of money to illegal scammers and New Zealand does not get the migrants it seeks to attract. “Some of the worst cases being reported to
my ofce are from foreign fee paying students.
“The reputation of the New Zealand immigration system will suffer if its integrity is not protected. Many cases have been aired in the media, especially the ethnic media.
Callers to radio stations have conrmed many
of these scams and have made it clear why they are reluctant to come forward,” Dr Prasad said.“This is why I have asked the Minister to
set up an enquiry with sufcient safeguards to
allow those who have been scammed to tell their story and expose the elaborate methods that are used by those scammers.”
- Arvind Kumar