GUEST BLOG: Pat O’Dea – The pandemic and immigration

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When the pandemic arrived in this country, Prime Minister Ardern appealed to New Zealanders to “be kind”.

The pandemic has thrown into sharp relief many of the unkinder aspects of our society.

Our willingness to pander to the employers to lower our borders so that we can continue to take advantage of migrant workers, but not extend to them, the same value as human beings the rest of us living and working here enjoy, is one such example.

Kindness can not be limited or constrained. Kindness if it is limited or constrained to some and not others, is not kindness, it is discrimination.

The invocation of the Prime Minister for New Zealanders to ‘be kind’ during this time, must be extended to those we bring here to labour for us in our fields and factories and offices, or be exposed as patent hypocrisy, even racism.

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A 10-year-old child is facing deportation from New Zealand, despite her parents offering to pay for help with her special needs schooling.

The girl, who Stuff has chosen not to name for privacy reasons, has lived in Nelson with her parents for about two years.

Nelson MP Dr Nick Smith says he is appalled at the prospect of the girl having to return home without her parents because of her special needs.

Her parents have valid work permits for a further two years.

They have been told their daughter will be unlawfully in New Zealand from Saturday and will have to return home.

The girl attends primary school in Nelson and her principal has advocated on her behalf.

The principal said the girl received up to two hours of support each day which the family had offered to pay for to minimise the government-funded costs.

“It should not be about politics – I am confident that when the minister has a chance to revisit the application that he will see that the case is more about human rights issues and accordingly make the right decision.”

The mother said the child had received plenty of support from her teachers and friends at school in the meantime.

Smith was made aware of the child’s situation by the family and school, and has written to associate Immigration Minister Poto Williams, seeking an urgent review.

Immigration is a human rights issue not a political issue. This girl’s principal is right.

Immigration is about human rights not money

When the local National Party MP Nick Smith, (not particularly noted for his compassion), can recognise the brutal inhuman cruelty of our immigration department toward this little girl and her family, something is very wrong.

The Associate Minister of immigration Poto Williams and the Honourable Member for this portfolio Kris Fafoi must take the Prime Minister’s appeal to ‘be kind’ to heart, and order their department to reverse this heartless decision immediately.

 

Pat is an activist, Unionist and writer.

14 COMMENTS

  1. The Associate Minister of immigration Poto Williams and the Honourable Member for this portfolio Kris Fafoi must take the Prime Minister’s appeal to ‘be kind’ to heart, and order their department to reverse this heartless decision immediately.

    Absolutely. If a directive of ‘kindness’ means anything at all, then they must act on this fast.

  2. There are plenty of examples of government dept not being kind. Unfortunately this occurs no matter which party is in power. Added to this is the fact that when mistakes or bad calls are made there seems to be no consequence. The odd minister fall on their sword but never the officials. The press needs to name and shame some of the people making these decisions. They are not speaking for us their pay masters.

  3. There are plenty of examples of government dept not being kind. Unfortunately this occurs no matter which party is in power. Added to this is the fact that when mistakes or bad calls are made there seems to be no consequence. The odd minister fall on their sword but never the officials. The press needs to name and shame some of the people making these decisions. They are not speaking for us their pay masters.

    • Trevor, Correct about the no consequence.

      Unfortunately, I now know more about the dept concerned.

      Smith, or somebody, needs to demand to know what exactly what qualifications and experience and brain power are best suited for this job, or the same sort of terrible decisions will continue to be made. As you say, there should be accountability.

      Sometimes there are other undisclosed factors at play, but the fact remains that a child is being treated badly.

  4. This plight of this poor child provides a graphic illustration of a govt dept captured by the savage neoliberal ethos. What ruthless bastards they are.

    Justifying separating a 10 year old child from her parents and home environment is unfathomable in a country like New Zealand which allows exploitive immigrants to continue to live here.

    Doing so on economic grounds is sickening, more so when her parents are offering to contribute towards the costs involved in caring for their unwell child. The cost is negligible – especially compared to golden calf projects for the elites. Unlike exploitive law-breaking immigrants, the wee girl isn’t contributing to the economy and the message here seems to be that you can come to New Zealand and be a crook at any level, and that is acceptable so long as your crookedness is a money spinner.

    Kudos to Nick Smith for his compassion, and showing the human face which faceless bureaucrats hide, as well they should.

    The teddy bear in the window is particularly poignant here, when Nelson’s Amy Brooke, ensconced I believe in idyllic countryside, published criticism of the PM for this initiative, which brought so much joy and pleasure to children and their carers walking dreary suburban streets during lockdown.

    Time well overdue to value all children, and protect them, and certainly not add to their trauma – and big thanks to Pat for highlighting this abuse.

  5. New Zealand ICE

    Since the days of slavery capitalism has relied not just on ‘free labour’ but on ‘bonded labour’.

    Traditionally both work forces were kept in competition with each other to keep wages down.

    A migrant workforce is the modern form of ‘bonded labour’.
    Bonded to one employer, these workers cannot seek a new job no matter how bad or oppressive this employer, leave that employer they are deported.
    To keep them even more vulnerable, These workers who pay full taxes are not allowed any of the benefits their taxes help pay for.

    …..Parker said the most vulnerable were migrant workers, many of whom have not been in the country for two years so were not eligible for the government’s benefits.
    “They are in terrible strife.
    “We are a civilised country and we cannot allow people to have no money, shelter and necessary clothing, especially as we enter winter.”
    Queenstown has a diverse workforce of about 5000 to 7000 workers drawn from around the world, including South America, the Philippines and Australia.
    Sir Eion EdgarSir Eion Edgar. Photo: RNZ / Anusha Bradley
    “We call it our second tsunami that’s going to be coming, 60 days from Tuesday. Unless the government changes its mind and lets these workers access a benefit in 60 days’ time they will have nothing. The landlords will be able to evict them, there will be nowhere for them to live.”

    “People from all over the world have been caught out.”

    Parker said that with a change in the alert level, there was another threat coming.

    https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/415267/queenstown-migrant-workers-need-access-to-benefit-community-group

    The pandemic has opened up cracks in our society and exposed something that is normally hidden. That we keep a large pool of workers vital to our society’s normal operation, that we treat as second class citizens, whikc acts to keep wages and conditions down for all working people.

    No, scrub that.

    Our society keeps a large pool of workers of bonded workers tied to their employer, who are treated not even as second class citizens, they are not citizens at all.

    That these workers are vital to the normal functioning of our economy has been stated by their employers.as part of its normal operation to drive down wages and conditions for all working people.

    • Bonded labour = modern day slavery. It is happening throughout the Middle East, Uk and elsewhere. Filipino mothers miles from family, often treated little better than dogs as they strive to put food in mouths back home.

      Governments know, some seem complicit. It’s not ok.

      Where are the voices in the New Zealand Parliament roaring, “This is outrageous “ . Silent. Politicos wallowing in past grievances and identity farces, living for the present, as children do, seduced by consumerism. We in New Zealand are treating immigrant labour in the same sub-human way the Westminster Parliament is documented doing to the Irish of the Great Famine, and God knows where the folk we’re doing it to can go.

  6. In late news an employer wants to bring in Pacifica workers, because according to her, New Zealanders don’t work hard enough.

    Perrys Berrys in Wiri, south Auckland, said it faces tonnes of fruit rotting on the ground unless it gets recognised seasonal employee (RSE) workers in from the Pacific.
    Owner Francie Perry said the Government urgently needs to intervene and make border exceptions for the workers as Kiwis snubbed the job. Picking is hard work and only migrant workers can be relied on, she said….

    …..But First Union spokeswoman Anita Rosentreter said New Zealanders would do the job if the horticulture industry paid better….

    An ad Perry placed on Seek said: “Most of the work available is paid by bonus piece rate – where you are required to produce enough to earn at least the current minimum wage to retain your position.

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/122873479/strawberry-farm-desperate-for-fruit-pickers-could-offer-kiwis-better-pay-union?fbclid=IwAR0k2_J5_IRs2w0VnhQvUGggfWkEmM3rb6Gj3W81iNpvqN8r5y8gYXJNhhE

    The implication of the ad placed by Perry, is that if these workers cannot keep up, they will lose their position and under the migrant worker laws be deported. A threat that this employer cannot hold over New Zealand workers.

    New Zealand growers want the right to take advantage of foreign migrant workers who without rights as citizens can not complain about their conditions and piecework wages, under threat of deportation.

    And all this in a the midst of a global pandemic?
    Is this employer not aware for the reason of the ban in first place?

    Or doesn’t she care, if the covid pathogen is spread to these migrant workers, and from there back to the currently free covid free Pacific Islands.

    The implication of her demand for temporary migrant workers with lesser rights than New Zealanders is that the transmission of the virus to currently free covid free Pacific Island nations is gauranteed.

    Last night on TV1 another grower showed the TV 1 news crew through their empty workers accommodation. The steel bunks in the bare shared dormitory would not be out of place in a prison.

    These are the real reasons that these employers cannot get New Zealand citizens to work for them.

  7. New Zealand growers want the right to take advantage of foreign migrant workers who without rights as citizens can not complain about their conditions and piecework wages, under threat of deportation.

    Is the truth too much to ask for, of our media?
    Is it so hard for them to tell it as it really is? And if so, why?
    And, how do we as a nation ever get to a better place, to a better way of being, without the more confronting home truths being acknowledged?

  8. Personally think the 10 yo should get her visa extended… BUT and big BUT, think the left are in twilight groupthink zone about the migrants coming to NZ all being good and being exploited.

    Around 50% of the exploiters in NZ are the migrants themselves!!!! Even the labour inspectorate knows it and it’s in all their reports. So it’s not pure god faring migrants against local exploiters at all, it’s NZ knowingly importing in overseas exploiters to settle here and fuck us all over just like Rogernomics did. It’s part of that whole process of neoliberalism.

    We need to stop migrant exploiters coming to NZ by making it much harder to get permanent residency (which is essentially a legacy from colonial days and should be removed) and have NZ citizenship taking 20 years and people coming to NZ actually taking it seriously, not in a couple of years are ‘Kiwis’ and on income support in 2 years.

    If a migrant is convicted of any crime in that time they should not be allowed to become a NZ citizen. We have enough of our own crims in NZ, we don’t need more overseas crims to fill up our prisons and justice system, while denying justice to our own people. Since the immigration boom there has been a huge increase in gangs in NZ – locals being frozen out of the (in particular blue collar) work force are looking to join a gang instead.

    As for anybody coming to NZ and within 1 year being able to vote, crazy!!! The only reason Labour has been able to win is because of Covid and the Natz dirty tricks being derailed by the amount of “students” not been able to vote Natz. People living in NZ for 1 year should not being able to influence our elections.

  9. Update:

    With their daughter now unlawfully in New Zealand, the family of a 10-year-old girl facing deportation from the country have been assured their daughter won’t be leaving the country without a fight….

    Their champion is National Party MP for Nelson Nick Smith.

    …..Nelson MP Nick Smith had been pushing the government to review the decision since being approached by the family and the girl’s primary school principal….

    …..The girl’s mother said she was grateful for Smith’s support for the family.

    “We are more settled now that we have Nick to fight for our case, unlike a few weeks back [when we were] full of worries and fears.”

    ….Immigration ministers Kris Faafoi and Poto Williams have been approached for comment.

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/122933641/smith-offers-assurance-to-family-of-nelson-girl-facing-deportation

    So Faafoi and Williams are silent. But what about the local Labour candidate, Rachel Boyack?

    What does she have to say on this issue?

    Presumably she is holding her tongue as well.

    Prime Minister Ardern said that Boyack has a good chance of taking this seat off Smith.

    Labour aims to unseat long-time Nelson MP and National stalwart Dr Nick Smith in the October 17 general election.

    Leader Jacinda Ardern told Stuff in Nelson on Thursday that she believed local Labour candidate Rachel Boyack could take the seat.

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/122944907/election-2020-labour-can-win-nelson-seat-says-ardern

    The Prime Minister was in Nelson yesterday campaigning for Boyack, and like Boyack, and Faafoi, and Williams also said nothing about this case.

    Minister Jacinda Ardern draws crowds during Nelson visit

    Labour’s silence – to Smith’s outspoken advocacy.

    On current polling if National MP Nick Smith loses his seat in parliament, Smith will no longer able to advocate on this family’s behalf with the government.

    What does this mean for this family and her supporters if National MP Smith loses his seat to Labour’s Boyack?

    The Labour candidate for Nelson, plus the ministers Faafoi and Williams and indeed the Prime Minister when she was in Nelson campaigning for Boyack yesterday were all silent on this issue.

    How much of a strain would it be for them to speak up on behalf of this family?

    Obviously, quite a bit.

    “The quality of mercy is not strained.” said Shakespeare

    (Unless of course it is).

    If after Christmas when the Labour government are fully in charge, will they show mercy for this family? Or will they maintain their silence to allow their immigration bureaucrats to split up this family and deport this child?

    Without any statement from Labour it is all left hanging in the balance.

    Shame on them.

    • Ok. I won’t vote at all. We probably all know that govt dept managers who stick their necks out are likely to have their heads chopped off – and they have to earn a living too.

      Chris Faafoi is behaving just like Donald Trump here. Whatever the story, children must never ever be treated this way. Oranga Tamariki should be stepping in to protect the child, but I expect they could lose their jobs too – or don’t care.

      Forces of the state lined up against poor immigrant working families. No way I could vote for them on principle – their scenarios stink.

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