The Green Party is today welcoming Labour coming to the table to ensure an amnesty for overstayers, but only the Greens will ensure immigration settings actually reflect the reality of people who have been failed by our immigration system.
“Migrants deserve to be treated with dignity and respect by our immigration system. But for many in our community, our immigration system has left them behind. They've fallen through the cracks, left vulnerable to exploitation, and denied the safety and security of a visa. The Greens will ensure that an amnesty for overstayers provides accessible residency pathways to everyone, not just those who’ve been here more than 10 years,” says Green Party immigration spokesperson Ricardo Menéndez March.
“At the same time, we will reform the visa system so it is fairer, has realistic pathways to residency to avoid people falling through the cracks and stops exploitation”
“There are thousands of people in this country without a visa, which leaves them with little to no support when the going gets tough and at the mercy of exploitative employers. We’ve seen countless reports of overstayers facing modern slavery style conditions which is why an amnesty is so urgent.
“We are disappointed with the high bar Labour has set through the requirement for people to be in Aotearoa for 10 years to be eligible. It calls into question the claim it will benefit 20,000 people. The reality is that it will leave many overstayers who still have roots here exposed to exploitative conditions.
“Underlying the need for an amnesty is the unfairness of our immigration system. Many low-wage migrants are strung along on temporary visas with accredited employers year after year, with no pathway to residency - and only a job loss away from being considered an overstayer. This is cruel and exploitative and does not uphold the values of fairness in work that many of us hold.
“The Green Party has a track record of working with people who have been failed by the immigration system to stop unjust deportations and successfully changed Labour’s position on the issue.
“We’re disappointed Labour chose to leave an amnesty to the outcome of the election. The more Green MPs in Parliament, the more likely it is that we will be able to ensure an amnesty scheme that serves the needs of our communities, and overhaul the immigration system so that people do not become overstayers in the first place.
Green Party pacific peoples spokesperson Teanau Tuiono added:
“Three years ago Pacific community leaders and migrant groups launched a petition asking for an amnesty for overstayers and a pathway to residency. We’re glad Labour has finally done something, but it needs to go further.
“A broad amnesty for overstayers is the right thing to do to right the wrongs of an immigration system that has continued to fail our Pasifika and broader migrant communities,” says Teanau Tuiono.