Heather du Plessis-Allan: Bending the rules on visas is wrong

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Wed, 6 Nov 2019, 3:42PM

Heather du Plessis-Allan: Bending the rules on visas is wrong

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Wed, 6 Nov 2019, 3:42PM

So it turns out if you don’t like a rule in this country, just complain loudly enough, call someone a racist, and Jacinda Ardern will bend that rule for you. 

That’s what’s just happened. The Prime Minister has told Immigration New Zealand to bend the rules when it comes to Indian immigrants who want to move here for an arranged marriage.

The rules are, yes, tough, which is presumably what we want our immigration rules to be. And under the rules, if you want to bring your foreign partner here, you need to prove that you’ve lived together for a year.

We do this to prevent immigration fraud where people have quickie marriages just to get into New Zealand, so the rules are there for a very good reason. 

But what’s been happening is that Immigration New Zealand has been exercising discretion, and bending the rules a bit to help these couples come to New Zealand.

In May, Immigration New Zealand made the decision to stop that rule bending. The department decided this by themselves, no one told them to. They did that because they realised they were bending the rules too often.

But that’s when this issue blew up. Some leaders in the Indian community got upset about Immigration enforcing the rules. There is a special visa they can use - the culturally arranged marriage visa - but that apparently takes too long to process.

So they would prefer going back to the rule bending. They started complaining. Shane Jones made it worse by telling them to go home if they don’t like it. They made it worse by calling him a racist.

And today, the Prime Minister backed down and ordered Immigration to go back to the old ways of bending the rules, even though Immigration, as the experts, made the decision to stop bending the rules. Even though there is a perfectly good visa category that can be used.

What’s the point in having rules if we’re going to start making exceptions for groups of people who don’t like those rules?

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