Tough New Zealand immigration laws to discourage asylum seekers

- Posted in New Zealand by Visa Bureauon 30 April 2012

Mr Key said new New Zealand immigration laws will show that the country, currently with no mandatory detention policy, is not a soft destination for people smugglers.

While no asylum seekers have ever made it to New Zealand by boat, the news of the intended change comes after 10 Chinese asylum seekers attempted to make it to New Zealand before being convinced of the dangers of the journey and deciding to make their asylum claim in Australia.

Announcing the laws alongside the prime minister, Immigration Minister Nathan Guy said the proposed laws were intended to tackle the prospect of a mass arrival of potentially illegal immigrants and include the ability to detain large numbers of people as part of a 'group warrant' as opposed to individual warrants.

"The recent events in Darwin show that New Zealand is a target for dangerous and illegal mass arrivals by boat. We need to be prepared," said Mr Guy.

"[The new law] means Immigration New Zealand will be able to focus on managing immediate risks, rather than being tied up in paperwork and clogging up the courts.

"A mass arrival would likely include people whose identities are unknown or in doubt, so it is necessary to use detention to manage the security risks."

Mr Guy said the bill would have its first reading in coming weeks and that it would be passed before the end of the year.

New Zealand currently has no mandatory detention policy in place and little trouble from asylum seekers due to the country's remoteness. However, Mr Guy feels tighter controls will both provide a legal avenue should some begin to arrive and safeguard the country's interests from scrupulous people smugglers.

"This legislation is not about punishing people with a genuine claim for refugee status," said Mr Guy.

"It's about sending a strong message that queue jumpers won't be tolerated, and people smugglers will not be rewarded."

The New Zealand Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy that specialises in helping people apply for a New Zealand Working Holiday Visa.