Samoa MP Criticizes New Zealand Immigration Policies

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Muagututagata: applicants should not be treated like refugees

By Lanuola Tupufia

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, June 24, 2013) – Immigration in New Zealand should make procedures for job application in the country simpler and not treat applicants like "refugees."

That’s the opinion of Sagaga le Usoga Member of Parliament, Muagututagata Peter Ah Him. Speaking in Parliament last week, Muagututagata said the procedures are too strict and costing people too much.

He said one woman claimed that she spent $6,000 on her application.

"It seems like they see us as refugees when we bring in our job applications," said Muagutu. "But my only request for the office of New Zealand is to help our people and try to make the process simple for us."

Earlier this month New Zealand overdrew the annual quota to meet a shortfall in recent years, drawing 1,350 applications.

Usually New Zealand draws 1,100 annually.

According to the MP he heard most complaints about the burden of getting job applications through New Zealand while listening to talk-back on the radio.

He said that some people are easily scared when they see stern facial expressions from employees of the office.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi welcomed the concerns.

He said the MP made a valid point but that he should also note "there are counting millions of people who are looking for work."

"If it wasn’t for the scheme, New Zealand would’ve told us long time ago that, that is enough," explained Tuilaepa.

"There are a lot of people in New Zealand with others leaving the country to find work in Australia. "New Zealand is trying to meet its agreement that was signed with Samoa in 1982 to allow 1,000 people (to go to NZ under quota)."

Tuilaepa suggested perhaps they should send only "breadwinners."

"A lot of our people who go there they just sit there and their families end up telling (Immigration) on them. "They left to look for work but instead they just sit around without any jobs."

The Citizenship (Western Samoa) Act 1982 granted New Zealand citizenship to all Samoans living in New Zealand at that time.

It also granted a quota system, a pipeline used by many Samoans to New Zealand.

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