New immigration rules could foster job discrimination

Green Party Immigration Spokesperson Keith Locke says migrants will end up being discriminated against if employers fail to comply with new proposals requiring them to carry out additional checks on the immigration status of their workers.

Under proposed changes to the Immigration Act announced yesterday, an IRD declaration from prospective employees will not be sufficient for the employer to avoid prosecution. Employers will have to get proof of the immigration status of every prospective worker, primarily through phoning a New Zealand Immigration 0800 number.

“This will encourage ethnic discrimination in hiring,” Mr Locke says.

“Rather than risk prosecution, or go through the hassle of visa checks, employers will tend to steer away from employing people with foreign accents, or those not of European or Maori origin.

“This will only add to the discrimination already faced by new migrants from Asia, Africa or the Middle East. There is also no information on how employers will be detected who choose to abuse their wider access to data about the immigration status of job applicants, and use it to blackmail them or pay them minimal wages.”.

“The Minister seems blind to problems that these added business compliance requirements will create for migrants seeking work. Employers who fail to perform their added responsibilities as de facto immigration agents or who mis-use the added immigration information made available to them will be de-registered, and will no longer be able to employ migrant labour.

“Migrant workers, in other words, will suffer the main consequences of the misbehaviour of employers. What Mr Cunliffe is proposing is in direct contradiction to the provisions of the Human Rights Act against ethnic discrimination.”