Release of independent review into out of hours immigration visits
Published: 10 July 2023
The head of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has committed to continuing a pause on out of hours visits to residential addresses by compliance officers for deportation purposes following the release of an independent review into the practice.
Carolyn Tremain announced the review following concerns raised by the Pacific community about the practice in the wake of the Government’s Dawn Raids apology in August 2021 and after an out of hours visit to the Auckland home of a Tongan national in April this year.
Leaders and members of the Pacific, Indian and Chinese communities were interviewed for the Review, along with immigration lawyers and advisers and representatives nominated by the Ministry for Pacific Peoples and the Ministry for Ethnic Communities. There were also 6 online fono for the wider Pacific, Indian, Chinese and Latin American communities. About 100 responses were received to an online survey so that members of the public who were unable to attend the fono could also make contributions.
The review, led by Mike Heron KC, has made 5 recommendations:
- The Government should consider amending the Immigration Act 2009 to specify the criteria for out of hours compliance visits and whether those involving residential addresses be stopped entirely, or limited to specific situations.
- Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and guidelines for compliance officers should be updated to reinforce that out of hours compliance visits are a matter of last resort and reasonable alternatives should have been considered beforehand. SOPs should also be updated to reflect policy about when and how these kinds of visits should occur and given the lack of legislative time available this could be given priority
- Any assessment of out of hours visits should consider the impact on anyone else who may be present, in particular children, but also the elderly or other vulnerable individuals, as well as New Zealand citizens or residents. The way in which the operation is carried out should take into account relevant cultural factors.
- Any decision to undertake an out of hours compliance visit should also include an assessment of reasonableness, proportionality and public interest.
- Any out of hours compliance activity should be authorised by the relevant compliance manager and the national manager before it can occur, although it is acknowledged there are arguments for elevating authorisation further.
Ms Tremain says any decision to review or change the existing legislation is a matter for the Government, but MBIE is already working on updating SOPs and guidance for compliance officers to reflect the Government’s Dawn Raids apology.
“I do want to again acknowledge the impact the Dawn Raids of the 1970s had on the Pacific community and that the trauma from those remains today,” Ms Tremain says. “We know we have more to do as we learn from the past to shape the future."
“We accept that we should have reflected the Government’s apology in our guidance sooner and are prioritising putting this right. The new guidance will specify when and how out of hours visits to residential addresses should take place and make it clearer that they should only be carried out as a last resort when all other alternatives have been considered."
“We are working on this as a matter of priority but we will continue our pause on out of hours compliance visits to residential addresses until the guidance is updated. This means visits will only take place between 8am and 6pm Monday to Friday."
“I do want to stress that out of hours visits are rare and only make up around 3% of compliance visits,” Ms Tremain says. “But we recognise the impact they can cause and acknowledge we have work to do to ensure they are only carried out as a matter of last resort under strict guidelines when all other options have been exhausted.”
MBIE media contact
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