5 Sep 2012

Tongan community in NZ fears new Immigration arrest powers

8:13 am on 5 September 2012

A Tongan community leader in New Zealand says giving immigration officers the power to arrest and detain overstayers is a return to the era of dawn raids.

Three people have been detained since the new powers came into force on Monday.

Immigration New Zealand says it will make them more effective because they can now locate and deport some overstayers without needing the police to be present.

But the Auckland Tongan Advisory Council's chairman, Melino Maka, says the new powers will send overstayers deeper into hiding.

"This will alienate the Tongan community there has always been that mistrust between the Tongan community and Immigration since way back in the 70s, the dawn raids. This is the bring back the dawn raids era."

Melino Maka says the Tongan community wants to work with Immigration New Zealand to sort out overstayers but this heavy-handed approach won't help.