PRESS RELEASE | Erica Stanford MP | 1 September 2021 -
Labour rejects National’s request for Immigration Minister to front on Afghanistan situation
Labour’s decision to reject National's motion for the Minister of Immigration to front the Education and Workforce Select Committee to answer questions about his and Immigration New Zealand’s role in how so many of our Afghan allies and their families who requested visas were left behind in Afghanistan is appalling, says National’s Immigration spokesperson Erica Stanford.
“We now know that hundreds of our Afghani allies, their family members, and family members of New Zealand citizens have been left behind in Afghanistan are facing an uncertain future. Many of these people stranded in the country are still waiting for their visas to be issued, despite having made contact with New Zealand authorities some time ago.
“So many questions need answering on this urgent issue. The public has a right to know how many visa applications were either not processed at all, or not processed in time for our Afghan allies and their families to make it out of the country before the deadline.
“These visas should have been processed and issued as a matter of urgency when the issue first came to light to allow those in danger of Taliban reprisals a pathway to New Zealand as quickly and safely as possible.
“The Minister of Immigration has a duty to appear before the committee, as his counterparts in Defence and Foreign Affairs have done, to answer questions and be held accountable for his decisions.
“Labour’s pathetic excuse in blocking this motion was that the Minister of Immigration didn’t have a role to play in ensuring visas were issued to these Afghani civilians. This is another example of Labour trying to protect one of their incompetent ministers from scrutiny.
“With hundreds of people left behind in Afghanistan facing a dangerous and volatile situation, the Minister must be held accountable.”