15 Jan 2007

Cook Islands minister to meet groups of foreign workers

10:41 am on 15 January 2007

Cook Islands Immigration Minister Wilkie Rasmussen meetstghe country's large Fijian community tonight as he seeks solutions to the problem of illegal foreign workers.

The Cook Islands Herald reports that the immigration minister is holding a series of meetings with expatriate communities, including Samoans, Tongans and Filipinos, after Immigration officers produced a list of alleged illegal workers.

The minister has put any deportation orders on hold and said he wants to hear all sides of the issue.

He has also stressed that some Cook Islands employers could be at fault, not just the foreign workers.

The newspaper says, in an editorial, that the whole issue of immigration continues to raise questions.

Not just for employers trying to overcome labour shortages and foreign workers trying to stay in the country, but also on how Immigration officers interpret and enforce law and policy.

While praising the minister's efforts, the paper called on Mr Rasmussen to release the report on the last major review of immigration policy.

This was commissioned by a predecessor in 2003 but its findings were never made public.

The paper says doing this would definitely help bring the whole issue of Immigration policy out into the daylight for public scrutiny, awareness and discussion which, it says, is where an important issue like this should be.