14 Dec 2010

Amnesty for overstayers urged

1:55 pm on 14 December 2010

A lawyer who represents overstayers says there is a compelling argument for some to be given amnesty.

A Parliamentary report into New Zealand's relationship with the Pacific recommends the Immigration Service give sympathetic consideration to granting residency for otherwise law-abiding overstayers, who were well settled, and who voluntarily approached Immigration.

Immigration lawyer Richard Small says the great untold story of overstaying in New Zealand is the unlicensed immigration consultant industry.

He said up to three-quarters of his clients had eligibility for either long term permits or residents, but were let down by immigration consultants.

The report also stated concerns about the number of Pacific Island children not going to school because their parents are overstayers.

Mr Small says there is still a high level of confusion and fear for families and his office often sees teenagers who have not been to school for eight or so years. He says giving amnesty to those people saves the country social problems.

An Auckland city councillor Arthur Anae agrees, saying the children must be educated and get medical attention, otherwise "they're going nowhere".

The report urges leaders of Pacific communities to encourage overstayers to step forward for the sake of their children.