The Green Party is calling for an overhaul of the immigration system, which they say treats "migrant workers as cheap labour and second-class citizens" and discriminates based on wealth and nationality.
In an open letter to Minister for Immigration Kris Faafoi, the party is calling for a broad amnesty programme for people who've overstayed their visa, and for temporary visa holders to be granted residency.
"Migrant communities are flourishing in Aotearoa, as people come from around the world to create a good life for them and their families," immigration spokesperson Ricardo Menéndez March said.
"All migrants deserve to have their dignity, rights and humanity honoured by Immigration NZ and our government.
"But in Aotearoa New Zealand, we have an immigration system that discriminates and separates, treating migrant workers as cheap labour and second-class citizens.
"Migrant communities are an important part of the tapestry of Aotearoa. Migrant workers played a key role in our response to Covid-19 and we have an opportunity to ensure they have the ability to fully participate in society by granting them residency."
Menéndez March and spokesperson for Pacific Peoples Teanau Tuiono launched the letter today at an Auckland event attended by Pasifika and migrant community advocates, including members of the Polynesian Panthers movement who have been calling for a government apology over the dawn raids of the 1970s, which targeted Pasifika.
Tuiono, supports the call for the government to apologise for the dawn raids, says this is why the government must create a pathway towards residency for people who overstay.
"The Dawn Raids are a shameful stain on New Zealand history, defined by racial tension and unrest as police and immigration authorities victimised Pacific Islanders they suspected of abusing the terms of their visas.
"It was a racist attack on Pacific families and communities that was fuelled and enabled by the New Zealand government.
"Migrants on temporary visas have no clear pathways to residency, are left dependent on dodgy employers, and are separated from their families and loved ones through rules that discriminate on wealth, nationality and relationships."
The open letter calls for seven changes to the immigration system:
1. Create pathways to residency.
2. Create a broad amnesty programme for people who overstay.
3. Decouple work visas from single employers.
4. Require Immigration New Zealand to stop visa processing delays.
5. Remove salary criteria for the skilled migrant category and parent reunification category visas.
6. Review partnership visas to ensure they are culturally competent.
7. Devolve resources to hapū, iwi and whānau to link between migrants and local communities.