Thursday, November 7, 2019
Recently," a lot of dirt has been thrown on the Kiwi-Indian community for having a "sense of entitlement," particularly around partnership based visa issues.
So has been on the custom of traditional Indian-marriages.
Leading the charge has been Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters who amidst heated immigration-related debates had asserted in an interview with RNZ that "It's clear as daylight, they are not partners, full stop... that the rule says, "you've got to be a partner - if you're not a partner how can you construct them as a partner when they're not."
This assertion was far more sensible, although completely ignorant than his slightly "worked up" colleague Shane Jones, who was outrageous and disrespectful towards Indian people and culture.
Mr Jones, in his numerous comments, had deliberately tried mixing issues (partnership visa with parent category visa) with an overt sense of contempt towards the entire Kiwi-Indian community.
Mr Jones told RNZ the Indian community has "no legitimate expectations in my view to bring your whole village to New Zealand and if you don't like it and you're threatening to go home - catch the next flight home".
Unsurprisingly, the comment has stirred up many in the Kiwi-Indian community, not only for ignorance on the plight of unfair treatment meted out to a large number of applicants but also, and more importantly for stereotyping the community for being ignoramus and stupid for a number of reasons.
Indeed, this was a classical racist attack on the community coming from the highest level in New Zealand polity – a government Minister.
To his credit, Deputy Prime Minister's comment was more focussed on the issue of immigration, though unhelpful.
However, his assertion revealed an absolute ignorance around the entire issue of partnership visa and a reflection of how it was callously played up in the current political debate.
Mr Peters assumed that most of the Kiwi-Indians were not legitimate partners and hence should not be allowed to enter New Zealand.
This assertion was factually incorrect.
Immigration New Zealand, in most of the decline letters sent out to a majority of recent applicants whose partnership visas were denied, had acknowledged that a relationship exists.
It was just that they were not satisfied that the couple were currently "living together" – a suddenly introduced expectations for assessing the credibility and stability of a relationship.
The Indian Weekender had seen many decline letters which stated, "We acknowledge that a relationship exists between you and your supporting partner; however..."
It was this sudden, unexplained, unwarranted exercise of discretion by INZ where they have arbitrarily decided to reject visa applications even after acknowledging that the couple were legitimate partners that were baffling.
In fact what was far more worrying and punitive in INZ's recent assessment of partnership visa applications emanating from India, was the fact that applicants found that after a seven-eight month-long treacherous wait for a case officer to be appointed, the entire case was summarily rejected within a dangerously short span of 10-15 days.
For instance, in the case of an Indian couple Sreerag Radhakrishnan and Antony Aleena – registered nurses – the wife applied for visa on June 25, a case officer was appointed on October 7, she received first phone call from case officer on October 11, and the INZ sent her a decline letter on October 14.
No wonder that the INZ failed to acknowledge and assess that the couple, in this case, had previously lived together and had a baby in the Maldives, where they both worked as a nurse, before immigrating to New Zealand (Read the full story here).
This has been the new style of working of Immigration New Zealand lately, particularly in Mumbai office.
There has been no genuine effort of engaging with applicants, communicating with them on any concerns, if any, for border protection, and giving them a fair chance to produce further supporting pieces of evidence to allay any doubts.
That is why there has been a collective sense of resentment against INZ's new-founded high-handedness in dealing with partnership visa applications emanating from the Mumbai office.
Unfortunately, some politicians had failed to see through this bureaucratic-high handedness objectively, choosing to advance their own respective agenda of immigrant-bashing.
Immigrants, in general, including the Kiwi-Indian community, have no sense of entitlement of avoiding or compromising with immigration-processes, as long as the system is fair and just.
Clearly, New Zealand First Party leaders had least appreciation of these facts and had sought to advance their political agendas at the expense of Kiwi-Indian community, making them target of culturally inappropriate comments.
To say the least, coalition government including Immigration Minister and the Prime Minister were also supremely unaware of the bureaucratic-high handedness meted out to the community under their watchful eyes.
The fact that not a single Minister or Prime Minister herself was able to stand with the community and call-out Shane Jones for his racist comments also stirred up the community, compelling many to take up the charge themselves to defend against all the dirt being thrown at them, almost without any provocation.