The Cruelty Shown to Split Families
Posted by Iain on April 1, 2021, 4:50 p.m. in Immigration New Zealand
A little over a month ago, the Prime Minister of New Zealand admitted when questioned by a journalist, that she was unaware that there was a significant number of migrant families split by the effective closing of our border, one year and seven days ago.
Numbers obtained under the Official Information Act indicates there is approximately 1092 people stuck on the other side of the border where at least one family member is in New Zealand.
The PM said she was unaware that if, say, a Nurse, had entered New Zealand the day before the border closed on 28 March 2020 without her partner and children, the partner and children could not join the primary applicant.
She said she was unaware that if that same nurse had applied for permission to enter New Zealand the day after the border closed, her partner and children would have been eligible for their own visas and they could all have travelled to New Zealand together.
If that nurse who had arrived before the border closed, left the country today, re-applied for a work visa to take up the same job, that visa would be granted. And her partner and children could come with her.
Sounds like something out of a Lewis Carroll story doesn’t it?
If that isn’t bad enough we have also learned that trainee nurses seeking registration here with the Nursing Council who have to do a Competency Assessment Programme (CAP) are still allowed to come into the country as critical health workers and they too can bring their families.
So….the Government is saying to a NZ registered nurse, working in a NZ hospital, if you don’t like it, go home. Or go home, re-apply for a work visa to do the same job, we will approve it given we are around 1000 nurses short in New Zealand. And you can bring your partner and children.
But you have to go home first.
If you’ve never been here you can come and bring your family.
So we let nurses who have yet to prove they are competent come over to do a course, with their family and tell those already here with registration if they don’t like being separated from their family they can leave.
At the same time 120 odd workers and crew of the stage show Lion King have just been granted ‘critical worker’ visas to come to NZ. With Tutors, make up artists and a whole host of occupations it beggars belief we do not have the skills for here.
Is it just me or is this all a bit Alice in Wonderland?
A month on and still we have nothing but silence from the Minister and the Prime Minister although last week the Government announced it would look at doing something.
The only thing the Minister of Immigration is ever heard to mutter is about capacity in the managed isolation hotels if we allow partners and children of split families into the country.
But we found room for 126 actors and crew for the Lion King, Bill Bailey and his crew, The Wiggles (Google them or ask your kids if you don’t know who they are) along with any number of international sports teams (the Bangladesh mens cricketers are here right now).
All of which suggests soothing the masses with sport and entertainment is more important than reuniting desperate families who are all led by a family member deemed a critical health worker.
Is that really where our priorities should lie?
No legislation is required to solve this humanitarian disaster. The Minister simply has to pick up his pen and tell INZ to grant these partners and children visas. Easy. A two minute job.
I do not expect the Prime Minister to be all knowing and all seeing (although it seems I am a minority) and to be aware of every issue across every portfolio but what this reflects is a Minister of Immigration who is pretty much missing in action and a Government that simply does not care. We know from official records that the Minister was told about this issue in June last year and in several official briefings since. He has done exactly nothing about it. He has embarrassed our ‘kind’ PM who increasingly looks, quite simply, cruel.
Given the current Minister replaced one that I referred to as the ghost Minister because you could feel a kind of presence but you could never actually see him or hear him, this Minister seems to be disappearing equally as fast.
Just when I had real hope this guy might be different, we seem to have a Minister who increasingly seems to be ineffective, captured by his officials and a Department with no real leadership at the top (the top guy just resigned after only three years).
Meanwhile the misery and heart break continues for all those people invited here by the Government to contribute their scarce skills to our health and other sectors. Skills the same Government acknowledges though its various skill shortage lists are in acute demand.
It makes no sense. The PM needs to corner her Minister and do what any good leader would do and demand some action. Force a change. If not for the vulnerable migrants involved, if not for their employers who are at risk of more and more nurses and others throwing in the towel and going home, then for her own political good.
Until next week
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Like most of your posts, well said Ian. Just hoping that very soon, families can reunite
Iain, as usual, on point. The situation with the split families is heartbreaking, and the cold lack of empathy (which comes off as cruelty given the circumstance) is breathtaking. I would point out that it's not just nurses who are suffering, though of course the fact that nurses and their family qualify for a border exemption makes their situation all the more ridiculous. I'm guessing that's the reason MP Erica Stanton has chosen to focus on them. But while she as an opposition MP is interested in building airtight cases against the government, I feel that caring individuals need not restrict their compassion only to nurses.
The callous lack of caring regarding the split families also makes me feel like our other "complaints" about how the SMC backlog & suspension of EOI selection are negatively impacting our lives will only fall on deaf ears; if they can't bring themselves to care enough about reuniting people who are suffering, what do they care if we as migrants have no ability to make progress in our lives?
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I guess I'm in the same situation as Sean. I have a signed work contract with a company in Auckland. I resigned from my work February 2020 to work out my last month, before starting my new life in New Zealand. Then the borders closed and I have since been stuck, waiting for the NZ border to open and my visa to be processed. I have been trying to find another job in the meanwhile, without success. So I have had no income since March 2020, while other supposedly "critical workers" (as Iain mentioned in this blog) get to enter NZ. I'm on a critical skills shortage visa and I have not had the homor to be allowed into NZ. I am more than willing (like I guess many many others) to fly to NZ, let NZ put me up in whatever hotel they desire for quarantine, which I would gladly pay, after which I contribute to NZ's economy and I also have a means of providing and making a living for myself. It would be a win win situation for all...the airline gets money, the hotel get money and I as a skills shortage employee, contibute to the economy of NZ. I'm asking Jacinda Ardern and her ministers to put themselves in "our situation". We WANT to work! We WANT to contribute to your economy! I sound desperate...because I am desperate.
It’s frustrating. We started the process, sold out house, moved into an apartment ready to get going with our immigration process, then Covid. Now we living in sort of limbo for a year. No point to look for work that side and stuck in a not so ideal living situation this side.
I just hope the issues with vaccines in South Africa will no delay this process any longer than normal. We might only see movement from our end December early 2022, if we remain on travel ban lists due to SA’s botched vaccine procurement and rollout!
Well said Ian. Cruelty is an understatement. I moved to New Zealand in February 2020 as an engineer at a Sawmill in Northland. We submitted partnership/family visa applications the following month. I have not seen my family since then. Now I have to pay rentals for 2 places(here and abroad) and all other expenses and challenges that come with us being apart. The focus might be on split families of nurses but other professionals are equally affected.
There is even a bigger issue for some of us(and its quite a number too), who where already expats workers in South Africa. I was the main visa holder and my family is on "accompanying father visa". All the kids were born in South Africa and our whole life we lived there. Now I move here and my SA visa has finally expired and so my family's visas. But there is nowhere for them to go. They can't join me here and the only place they call home is South Africa but now they don't have the legal right to be there but have nowhere to go. I do not know if the NZ government sees how its complicated our lives by ignoring these 'obvious' issues. Its tragic...
Yes they are willing to turn away valuable workers who brought their skills to contribute to growth of economy. Bring in new skill migrants who has to go through the process of doing their training in order to get the registration rather than keep the existing skill workers and allow them to reunite with their families. What image does this portray about this country that it does value us enough to want to keep us in the country. My family has Visa's but won't be allowed to come into the country but there new skill migrants being allowed into the country with their families. Yet I been working a contributing to this economy for almost 15 months. This makes me sick as a person cause it is quite clear there is no standard being followed and the system is up to no good. They pick and choose who can and cannot be allowed into the country and it is quite sad that most of us have given up everything for a better life only for our lives to be turned upside down. Not knowing what the future holds and no time frames to adhere to.