Immigration NZ on notice over new dawn raid

Dawn raids

Acting Prime Minister Carmel Sepuloni has put Immigration NZ on notice over a dawn raid it carried out a fortnight ago.

The raid involved Immigration and Police officials turning up at a family home and arresting the father at 5am in front of his four terrified children.

The cops were banging on the back and front doors, the parents were upstairs with their youngest child while the other four children were left cowering downstairs, the family’s lawyer Soane Foliaki says.

“We do not want Immigration New Zealand acting in a way where they are re-traumatising our Pacific community,” Carmel Sepuloni said.

The only justifiable reason she had seen for carrying such raids out would be in cases of threats to public safety, she added.

Immigration Minister Michael Wood followed Sepiloni’s lead smartly, telling Immigration out-of-hours dawn raids must now be signed off by the head of Immigration.

“That should be a very, very rare event that has a high level of justification. For example, if it is the only way to ensure a safe operation and that should be signed off at a very high level within the organisation,” Wood said.

“We want Immigration New Zealand to take into account fully the government’s apology [two years ago] for the dawn raids and to reflect that in their operational policy.”

Wood is still establishing the facts of the case, something Foliaki says he’s already done.

“Is this a bad boy, who’s a criminal, that we need to deport quickly? No, this person here has got a New Zealand family and we need to protect the family.”

Government apology

It is just two years since the Ardern-led government apologised to the Pasifika community for the dawn raids characteristic of the 1970s.

It meant so much to so many. But now, some aren’t sure it was genuine.

“It’s really, really shocking. We thought this was over with the sincere apology from the Prime Minister two years ago,” Foliaki says.

Tongan community leader Melino Maka remembers the sound of his aunt screaming as she was taken by police. He also remembers, and now questions, the apology.

“All these things are thrown out the window, you know, and it’s an embarrassment for a Government.”

Overstayer amnesty

Last month’s raid wasn’t a one-off.

Commentator Barry Soper says Immigration NZ has confirmed about 18 or 19 raids occurred between July last year and April this year, “outside of hours”.

Wood’s office confirmed the ethnic breakdown of these cases: 10 Chinese people, four Indians, two Tongans, one Samoan, one Malaysian and one Indonesian.

The Green Party is calling for an amnesty for overstayers. Wood is now considering this option.

At present, New Zealand has about 14,000 overstayers.


Additional reading

News category: New Zealand.

Tags: , ,