NEW ZEALAND INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS’ ASSOCIATION
Blaming immigrants never gets old
“Backdoor” international students contributed 5 billion to the New Zealand Economy in 2019, yet anti-immigration stance remains entrenched in the Government.
Issued by NZISA on 12th May 2022
NZISA detest the use of the term “backdoor residency”, used by the Hon Chris Hipkins, Minister of Education, in his address on 11 May covering the reopening of the border The Minister issued a blanket statement, stating that international students had “misused” the residency pathways made available to them through Immigration New Zealand.
NZISA, and many international students in New Zealand, are shocked at these blanket statements that do little to promote harmony and instead suggest purposeful circumvention of New Zealand’s immigration system. Such statements promote false narratives of immigrants stealing jobs and suggest that international students are responsible for labour exploitation. NZISA President Vikram Selvaraj when questioned on the term “backdoor residency” highlights that “frankly there is no need to use such language, which unfortunately fuels the existing anti-international/anti-migrant and prejudicial attitude in the community.”
NZISA has received several complaints from international students about these statements. Students have voiced concerns that such statements “create the impression that international students are somewhat “dishonest”” and that students “simply follow the rules” and are not to blame. International students are more than just cash cows that bring economic value, whether they are deemed “high-value” or “low-value”.
We believe that all peoples, including international students in New Zealand, should be treated fairly and respectfully, as their contributions not-only benefit that of the education sector here in Aotearoa, but also contribute a substantial amount towards the local economy, diversity of communities, and cultural identity of New Zealand. During the Covid-19 lockdowns the Government took little action to cater towards the needs of international students that were stuck in New Zealand and separated from their families.
The Minister has essentially condemned hardworking foreign students to being called “backdoor residents” should they be eligible for residency in the future. It sets a dangerous precedent for the fate of incoming international students coming in August, and places a target on the back of all migrants. We remind the Minister that MBIE’s Worker Exploitation Task force found that working rights and visa rights reduce labour exploitation and increase the wellbeing of international students.