Delamere rejects amnesty call for overstayers

  • John Delamare

Immigration Minister, Hon Tuariki Delamere, has rejected out of hand the demands from National list MP Arthur Anae and prominent Auckland doctor Colin Tukuitonga that he grant an amnesty for all overstayers.

The Minister said today, "I will not be a party to granting permanent residency to the more than 40,000 people who are in this country illegally.

"My job as Minister of Immigration is to protect the integrity of our country's borders. These people have all had the opportunity to apply for residency and have either been found not to qualify or have chosen to 'disappear' because they knew they didn't qualify.

"New Zealand's immigration policy is designed to bring in immigrants who will benefit this country positively. Many of the overstayers we have in New Zealand have no skills and qualifications and would inevitably become a financial burden to the New Zealand taxpayer. I am not about to reward law breakers and the last thing this country needs is more beneficiaries."

Mr Anae has strongly criticised the new policy that allows overstayers to be removed without notice, 42 days after the expiry of their visa. He also claims he has been having discussions on a general amnesty for overstayers with the Prime Minister.

"I am not aware of Mr Anae having discussions with the Prime Minister about a general amnesty. However, if it were true then I would be most disappointed that such discussions had taken place without involving the Minister of Immigration. Fortunately, the Prime Minister has made it clear that the Government will not be proceeding with Mr Anae's proposal.

"I make no apology for the new law that allows overstayers to be removed from New Zealand without written notification 42 days after the expiry of their visa.

"In the past we have had to locate people and serve them a removal order from which point in time they had 42 days in which to appeal. Many overstayers then just disappeared again into the general population with the result it often took several more years to locate and remove them," said Mr Delamere.