“The plight of these students who are seeking refuge in a church, and the potential for immigration officials and police to be raiding this church to extract the students, could cause significant damage to New Zealand’s reputation as a welcoming and progressive country – especially for international education.
“In the current global climate this simply isn’t wise, and it’s likely the rest of the 300 students will suffer the same fate as the 41 who are now hiding from authorities.
“This is a manifestly unjust situation for these students. There is no evidence of the students themselves having done wrong but they are being punished while the rogue agents get off scotfree.
“The situation has arisen because of a cowboy industry that the National Government has taken no responsibility for controlling. It’s the students whose lives are being ruined, and New Zealand’s reputation will suffer.
“The Immigration Minister has failed these students and New Zealand for not exercising any discretion or common sense by rejecting their appeals.
“The students should simply have their applications assessed on the merits with those eligible being able to stay. It’s about time we had a Government that offers compassion and natural justice,” says Iain Lees-Galloway.
The Migrants Workers Union’s Anu Kallti, who is supporting these students, told SBS Punjabi newspaper that Immigration New Zealand needs to look at different parties involved in this whole mess. “These students are actually the victims. The Anglican Bishop of Auckland has written to Prime Minister Bill English to seek clemency for them, and we are hoping he will listen.”
Joe Carolan of the Unite Union says these students are victims of the immigration machine.
“We are saying these students are migrant workers and they are exploited by the agents, by the education providers, and if you want to punish them, punish the agents, punish the education providers, punish the immigration officials and also punish the ministers who have been complicit in setting up those schools,” he told SBS.