Former New Zealand immigration minister Tuariki Delamere says as many as 1000 kids in New Zealand face an uncertain future under citizenship laws.
07 October 2011
1000 kids face deportation or being orphaned for breaching New Zealand visa rules
The case of a family potentially being split apart by New Zealand immigration officials has shed light on the issue of responsibility for the children of deported parents.
Former New Zealand immigration minister Tuariki Delamere has said this week that as many as 1000 children of parents being deported from New Zealand face an uncertain immigration status since changes to citizenship laws were introduced in 2006.
The comments were made by Mr Delamere in response to a case in which he is an immigration adviser. Indian couple Balvir Kumar (also known as Balvir Chumber) and Meena Kumari were recently found to be overstaying on their New Zealand visa and are in the process of being deported by Immigration New Zealand (INZ). The couple has indicated it may choose to leave their three children as orphans in New Zealand rather than have them return to life in an Indian slum.
Two of the Kumars' children are New Zealand citizens but their youngest child is ineligible for both New Zealand and Indian citizenship as he was born after the Government amended the citizenship criteria in 2006. Under the reformed system, at least one of the parents of a child born in New Zealand must hold New Zealand citizenship.
Immigration New Zealand has stated that it is the responsibility of parents to ensure their families are compliant with immigration law. "Immigration-wise children are the responsibility of their parents...however, children who are citizens are entitled to the same level of support as any other citizen," said INZ spokesperson Peter Elms.
Mr Delamere has acknowledged the Government's position but called for greater compassion also.
"This is about balancing the interests and rights of INZ to deport the parents and the interests and rights of the children to live in NZ with Mum and Dad," he said.
"Personally as a former Minister of Immigration I do not understand how any New Zealand politician can take steps they know will result in citizen children becoming effective orphans or sent to live in abject poverty in the third world".
Mr Delamere highlighted the skills Mr Kumar can offer the New Zealand economy as an experienced electrician.
"The demands of the Christchurch earthquake mean New Zealand is facing severe shortages of carpenters and electricians," he said.
"Given the impending shortages of tradesmen, it seems that we have a case of the Government ‘cutting off its nose to spite its face'.
"The parents are overstayers and in no way do I condone that, they should have left. However, they didn't and now we have the fates of two citizen children to deal with."
New Zealand Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people emigrate to New Zealand.