What is going on at Immigration NZ?

Immigration officers stormed into Mark Middleton's workplace, accused him of living here illegally, and put him in a cell at the Wellington police station.
He's been told he's an overstayer and served a deportation order.

I know we hear these stories a lot, but honestly, this one seems over the top.

This is a man busy minding his own business, a family man, who came to New Zealand as a 4-year-old boy with his English parents. He's been here 56 years.


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He is the sole breadwinner for his family, his only claim to infamy is that as the stepfather of murdered schoolgirl Karla Cardno, he threatened to kill the man who raped, tortured and buried her alive, if he was ever released from jail.

That was 17 years ago. For that threat he was given a suspended sentence.
It was argued at the time that he was suffering from chronic grief.

His only other 'crime' is that he left NZ for a family holiday to Fiji in 1986, and when he re-entered the country, did not have valid re-entry permission.

He was supposed to clear up his immigration status, he didn't know that, and he never did. Boom, off to jail we go - 32 years later. Middleton described the Immigration officers as "very, very hostile", he said the process was "dehumanising".

He's also concerned about the stress of all this on his family.

I'm not surprised. Surely they've been through enough?

Each year, they face the parole hearing of the man who killed their child, imagine that stress for the mother alone?

Whatever the grounds for Immigration NZ's concerns, I can't understand why they had to barge into his place of work, make a scene, and whip him off to jail?

Some of our worst criminals don't even get that kind of brutal treatment.

Our justice system is weighted very much in the favour of the rights of criminals, they are afforded far more courtesy than this - so why was this heavy handed approach used here?

How could this not have been dealt with via a phone call? An email? An after-hours visit to his home?

Mark Middleton's lawyer is pleading for the Government to live up to its claim to be compassionate, and overturn the deportation order.

He's asked Associate Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi to step in. But according to the department, due process must run its course. He has two weeks to appeal the decision but his lawyer says deportation orders are hard work to overturn due to the serious nature of them.

He's also now unable to work, due to not having a work visa, so the family's sole breadwinner is unable to provide for them.

I hope for two things here: One, that this is fixed quickly, the deportation order overturned and a lesson learned in how not to treat people, and two, that the process eventually includes an apology from Immigration NZ, for being so unnecessarily callous and heavy handed.