PRESS RELEASE | Erica Stanford MP | 18 August 2023 -
Labour must take responsibility for migrant exploitation
Immigration Minister Andrew Little has finally woken up to the explosion of migrant exploitation under Labour’s watch, but his review will be of cold comfort to migrants who are struggling up and down the country, National’s Immigration spokesperson Erica Stanford says.
“Andrew Little has been forced to call an investigation into Immigration New Zealand following an anonymous tip off from inside his own department saying that checks are not happening, and vulnerable migrants are in danger.
“This is an embarrassing backdown from an out-of-touch Minister who earlier in the week was denying that there was any increase in migrant exploitation and insisting that the proper checks were being undertaken.
“Immigration experts, migrant groups and National have been telling him for months that migrant exploitation is the worst it has ever been.
“National has repeatedly warned the Government since late 2022 that the extra bureaucracy and red tape that had been embedded in to the Accredited Employer Work Visa system was pointless when essential areas of document verification and risk assessment had been dropped. Instead of taking these concerns seriously, Mr Little and his predecessor continued to bury their heads in the sand.
“Immigration New Zealand’s own figures show that in the last year only 2.2 per cent of accredited employers have had checks completed by Immigration New Zealand, and fewer than 4 per cent of AEWV holders had a verification check conducted by the end of April this year.
“The Minister himself conceded in Parliament that employers applying for accreditation are not asked for documentation to prove the legitimacy and financial viability of their businesses and are simply asked to sign a declaration meaning our borders are operating on a pinkie promise.
“In a country that prides itself on its high standards of human rights, vulnerable migrants are being exploited and living in appalling conditions in New Zealand because the Labour Government has failed to do its job.
“National will bring back proper verification checks to keep vulnerable migrants safe.”