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Filipino Migrant News Issue 100

Celebrating our 17th year of publication. 100 issues. New Zealand's only Filipino newspaper since 2000. www.filipinonews.nz; www.pinoynzlife.nz

Filipino Migrant News Issue

Two Editions Fortnightly : NZ & South Island. 17th Anniversary Vol 8 No 100 W: www.filipinonews.nz, www.pinoynzlife.nz | E: filipinonews@xtra.co.nz M: 027 495 8477 | FB: Filipino Migrant News Shock immigration changes for workers, By Mel Fernandez, Migrant News effective Aug 14 We Winston Peters (right), Andrew Little (left) and Michael Woodhouse (extreme left). WELLINGTON – The government is tightening up visa requirements under the skilled migrant category with a raft of changes effective 14 August this year. Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse said that the adjustments would reduce the migration numbers and increase the quality of people coming to New Zealand. There has been a mixed reaction to the changes - the more strident attacks on the policy are from New Zealand First, the Labour Party, some migrant groups and settled migrants. On talk back radio, however, it sounds like a lot of people are in favour of the changes. They see it as a OPINION By LOUIE ENCABO Immigration is undoubtedly the hottest issue of this election cycle. Traditionally it was only New Zealand First who made immigration reform a centrepiece of their campaign platform; this time around we see National, Labour and the Greens doing the same. To us migrants this can be a reason for discomfort. When we hear of plans to raise the minimum income threshold for permanent residency or when we hear of the government cracking down on migrant workers violating their given visa conditions we feel as though we are under attack. The truth, however, is that stricter immigration laws could actually benefit us foreign-born New Zealanders as well as those who are here only on temporary visas. While the prospect of being sent back to your country of origin is frightening, it is even worse to be stuck in a foreign country living like a slave. Such is the fate of migrant workers who fall victim to exploitative employers, which has seen a rise in recent years. We hear about this happening regularly: a starryeyed foreign worker seeking a better life in New Zealand, only to have their passport confiscated by their employer and to be forced to work with no pay and cruel work conditions. These migrants are now stuck; unable to way to curtail the out of control housing and transport problems that have arisen. New Zealand First leader Winston Peters poohpoohed the policy as "tinkering" and "just a dog whistle to show they're doing something". Then there’s this diametrically opposed view from a The Need for Better Immigration Controls (from a migrant's perspective) British immigrant on Facebook: “… it's a hard pill to swallow that immigration is the cause of our problems. If anything the net gain in tax revenue from immigration might just be the solution.” The Labour Party’s response: “We do need immigration as a country and that it makes us a richer place even voluntarily return to their home countries. Such a scenario is made possible by a lax immigration policy; a system where employers are given free rein to import workers from abroad without proper checks and regulations. Thankfully that system is being overhauled; the sitting government is taking measures to put restrictions on hiring overseas workers. First by introducing a pay threshold for permanent residency. This is to discourage migrant workers from taking jobs that will pay them less than the minimum wage, a common practice by domestic employers. This is a common scheme of exploitative employers, who connive with the worker to take a much lower pay discreetly. The victim agrees, thinking that it would be a temporary arrangement and would cement their status in New Zealand, only to be needing rescue further down the line when the employer becomes more abusive. For us migrants who have earned permanent status here in New Zealand, curtailing the demand for foreign workers will also help our plight. More and more local jobseekers are unable both culturally and economically. However, it also has to be managed properly and there has to be proper investment in housing, public services and other infrastructure. “That hasn't happened and as a result our roads are clogged, we don't have enough houses and our to compete in the labour market since competition comes from all over the world. The common refrain we hear from these employers is that they are unable to find workers domestically, with some adding salt to the wound by brandishing local workers as ‘lazy’ and according to a former Prime Minister, even ‘drugaddled’. The truth is, there are 124,000 unemployed New Zealanders at present. It is hard to believe that such a large number of people are merely lazy or drug-dependent. That number comprises services are stretched. That's why Labour is calling for a breather - we plan to slow down immigration and speed up infrastructure investment. That's a winwin for new migrants as well as people already here.” www.migrantnews.nz all unemployed New Zealanders by the way, even us who are foreign-born. By lowering the number of foreign workers coming in we force employers to take a harder look at those of us who are unemployed and are already in the country. This will also ease demand on basic services such as public transport, education facilities and housing - all of which are severely underfunded and struggling to cope with current demand. To put it succinctly, more stringent immigration requirements are not always bad news for us foreign-born New Zealanders. In fact, in these times of rampant migrant exploitation with a local workforce struggling to find work they are absolutely necessary. welcome your feedback. email: filipinonews@xtra.co. nz

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