INDEPENDENT NEWS

Immigration Minister Playing ‘ping-pong’ With People’s Lives

Published: Tue 3 Mar 2020 09:54 AM
Immigration Minister, Hon. Ian Lees-Galloway has recently announced that he will delegate more Ministerial decision-making to Immigration New Zealand staff.
The New Zealand Association for Migration and Investment (NZAMI) chair, Ms June Ranson, says the Minister is playing ‘ping-pong’ with people’s lives.
She says it is the Immigration Minister’s responsibility to make decisions on cases which fall outside Immigration NZ’s policy guidelines – this is what is known as democracy.
“The Minister should be asking advice from his senior qualified Immigration NZ staff, but the final decision should rest on his shoulders. That is his job. We are not aware of any other Immigration Minister having excused him or herself from these duties to this extent. One must ask what is the point of having an Immigration Minister if he is not involved in deciding the hard cases?
“The Sroubek case, although given high publicity, is not the only case the Minister is asked to decide. There are many other reasons cases are brought before him, purely because they fall outside normal immigration policy, and which the Immigration NZ has no jurisdiction to decide.
“The Immigration Minister is seen as a fresh set of eyes to look at different cases. Anything that has gone through Immigration NZ is based on the current policy, so there is nowhere else for individuals to go. Having such cases put back to Immigration NZ is asking for the same people to review them again.
“We note that currently the Associate Minister of Immigration, Hon. Poto Williams, has been making the decisions, and not the Minister himself.”
In addition, NZAMI has been advised by Immigration NZ that people are to expect longer processing times due to the temporary closure on its Beijing office.
Ms Ranson says, “We need to understand why this decision was made. A large percentage of visa applications are processed online and could be handled by staff working from home if quarantine is an issue. This does not pass on a virus. A number of these applications are also for persons outside of China.
“We need to understand the rationale for the office closure. The decision taken to close this office is hurting the NZ economy and playing with people’s lives.”

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