Lawyer questions whether Immigration Minister was 'told a lie'

12:22 pm on 10 April 2018

An immigration lawyer is asking whether the Immigration Minister was told a lie about profiling used to target overstayers.

Workplace Relations Minister Iain Lees-Galloway

Workplace Relations Minister Iain Lees-Galloway Photo: VNP / Daniela Maoate-Cox

Immigration Minister Ian Lees-Galloway has suspended a controversial pilot programme after RNZ revealed it was being used to identify troublemakers and possibly put them on a fast-track to deportation.

Last week, Immigration New Zealand compliance and investigations area manager Alistair Murray told RNZ that the profiling model considered a range of features, including someone's country of origin, age, gender and ethnicity to identify potential troublemakers.

Mr Lees-Galloway said he is aware of concerns around perception.

"People want to be certain that the information Immigration New Zealand has is being used appropriately."

But says he's been assured neither race nor nationality was used in the modelling.

A portrait of immigration lawyer Alastair McClymont.

Immigration lawyer Alastair McClymont. Photo: Supplied.

Lawyer Alistair McClymont told Morning Report the programme is racial profiling and that the minister's comment is at odds with what Immigration New Zealand has previously said.

"There's a whole lot of inconsistencies here. I've seen the document and it doesn't really answer any questions. In fact, it raises dozens and dozens more."

He is asking whether the Immigration Minister was told a lie about profiling used to target overstayers. Having read the documents he says the weighting is instead on the current visa type held.

"Overstayers don't have a visa.

"Alastair Murray last week talked about targeting people who were incurring health debts and criminal history yet these types of factors have an extremely low weighting in the spreadsheet. All of these migrants who are basically targeted as a high risk to the immigration system are the people who score highly on visa type, number of applications made and the type of employer."

Mr McLymont said there was an emphasis on targeting potential victims of exploitation rather than rooting out the causes of it. He said the minister needed to ask a lot more questions.

"Why is Immigration New Zealand not coming up with any ideas about how to tackle the root causes of exploitation? Why are they simply punishing the victims?"

He said there needed to be an independent look at the profiling to see exactly how Immigration New Zealand had been using its data.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs