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Aotearoa 'exploiting and 'brutalising' Pacific migrants, says law lecturer

12 May, 2023

Interview by Andre Fa'aoso, adapted by David Liwei Shi 

Senior lecturer of law at the University of Auckland Dylan Asafo says granting amnesty is urgent to protect those vulnerable to being dawn raided. Photo: Canva.

Listen to the full interview 

Last weekend, Pasifika leaders and government officials, including Deputy Prime Minister Carmel Sepuloni and Immigration Minister Michael Wood, met in Tāmaki Makaurau to discuss disturbing reports of recent dawn raids.

This was after Immigration New Zealand detained a Tongan man in an early morning raid for allegedly overstaying a temporary work visa, less than two years after the Labour government apologised for the Dawn Raids of the 1970s.

Immigration minister Michael Wood sentding a recommendation letter to the agency’s chief executive stating deportation should only occur in extreme cases. 

On 95bFM’s The Wire, senior lecturer of law at the University of Auckland Dylan Asafo said our current immigration system is “exploiting” and “brutalising” migrants and deporting them when they no longer fill our labour needs.

The man arrested has since been granted a six-month work visa and set on a path to permanent residency.

Michael Wood indicated at the meeting that he was considering granting amnesty to all overstayers in Aotearoa. 

Asafo said granting amnesty is urgent to protect those vulnerable to being dawn raided.

He argued more effort is needed to dismantle immigration laws rooted in Aotearoa’s “fundamentally racist” and “unjust” colonial government systems. 

“Even though granting amnesty is the most just and fair way forward, other people don’t see it that way.” 

Despite the harm caused, Asafo hoped this recent event would bring attention to the impact of the Dawn Raids on Pacific communities. 

“This is a necessary step to get big changes through, and we just need to keep applying pressure.”

“We need to make it clear to Minister Wood and the Prime Minister that these performative gestures and consultations need to lead to hard actions.”