Measures are being introduced to deter a mass arrival of potentially illegal migrants into New Zealand, Immigration Minister Nathan Guy has announced today.
“An amendment to the Immigration Act introduced into Parliament today contains strong measures to deter people smuggling, making New Zealand a less desirable target,” says Mr Guy.
“The amendments will enable a mass arrival to be detained under a group warrant, rather than under individual warrants as currently happens with asylum seekers.
“This means Immigration New Zealand will be able to focus on managing immediate risks, rather than being tied up in paperwork and clogging up the courts.
“A mass arrival would likely include people whose identities are unknown or in doubt, so it is necessary to use detention to manage the security risks.
“The recent events in Darwin show that New Zealand is a target for dangerous and illegal mass arrivals by boat. We need to be prepared.”
Other policy changes meant that a claimant’s refugee status will be reassessed three years after it is first determined, with permanent residence not granted unless this reassessment is approved.
Family reunification rules will also be restricted, so that those who do gain residence after three years can sponsor their immediate family members to join them in New Zealand, but not their extended family members.
“There are appropriate channels for genuine refugees to use. We cannot start accepting boat loads of people – we need to deter them before they take to sea.
“This legislation is not about punishing people with a genuine claim for refugee status. It’s about sending a strong message that queue jumpers won’t be tolerated, and people smugglers will not be rewarded.”
Mr Guy says New Zealand remains committed to fulfilling its international good citizen obligations by accepting an annual quota of up to 750 UNHCR-mandated refugees.