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Monday, March 05, 2012

Old World migration

The Immigration Department is a division of the Labour Department - although many of the immigrants they process are not approved on the basis of work. The ability for an immigrant to then bring in their parents, siblings etc. that would not have otherwise been approved on their own merits has always been a problem, but one the authorities never wanted to tackle because they thought that removing those coat-tailing privileges would result in losing good immigrants to other Western immigrant-based nations with whom NZ "competes" in the immigration market.

This incredibly generous and long-standing policy is problematic for many reasons, but mainly because it runs counter to the employment rationale, ie. they are not needed in any economic sense. The pressing issue for me are the many elderly parents being brought in who need only stay ten years in NZ before they receive the (already unaffordable superannuation), and regardless at 65 are entitled to an old-age 'goldcard' and start imposing a net cost on the government (through welfare and health costs) and other incidental costs on the community as soon as they arrive. Then there is the issue of communication and the ability to be part of the wider community when most of these people are trying to acquire English as a second language - incredibly difficult at any post-school age let alone in one's 60s.

On top of that is the cultural reinforcement that the elderly provide for the younger immigrants in that family and wider group - ensuring they cling to the world of their homeland rather than the younger ones preferring and adopting the norms of their new country that would have happened had they not been present. The elderly immigrant acts as a barrier to integration for the family. This may be weak in some instances, or with the likes of the Sikh policeman for example - who made the NZ Police change their uniform to incorporate a turban at the insistance of his father, or the matriarchs and patriarchs who enforce arranged/forced marriages etc. - the influence may be quite strong.

For all of the Labour Party's suspicious reactions this is a move that should have happened a long time ago. However the immigration department - once run by Helen Clark's mate and CV-bullshit artist "Doctor" Thompson - has been a mess for years and is a marvel for paperwork and bureaucracy, but woefully slow to advance any policy of quality control.

NZ Herald:

Poor migrants who speak little or no English are to be subject to stricter immigration laws under a review that will create a "two-tier" system to favour the wealthy, a leaked Cabinet paper shows.

Immigration categories are to be changed in an effort to "reduce the number of unskilled migrants who find it difficult to get jobs and are more likely to get benefit payments".

Applications from parents seeking residency to be with children already in New Zealand will be placed in the slow processing lane if their children-sponsors are not "high-income" people.

Parents will no longer be able to bring in dependent children and applicants who are poor in English will be required to pre-pay for language lessons.

There are still many things to sort out with immigration.

The biggest elephant in the room - apart from the coat-tailing of family members that has been identified - is the inequality of treatment between the privileged no-questions-asked rights of Australians to unfettered access to and residence in NZ compared with the restrictions, quotas and deportations of our (closer) Polynesian and Island nationals. It should be one rule for all our close neighbours so far as it can be reciprocated.


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