Bill English denies 'meek' response to Trump's immigration curbs

Prime Minister Bill English has denied being "meek" in his opposition to US President Trump's travel ban for several Muslim-majority countries, saying the policy is a "temporary measure".

Other world leaders like Justin Trudeau, Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande have condemned the controversial immigration policy, which has enforced a ban on travel from seven Muslim-majority countries.

Today journalists asked the Prime Minster why he wasn't being more critical of the policy.

"We're not being meek at all," he replied. "President Trump's got to deal with his own issues and his own election promises."

Mr English refused to say the policy was wrong, instead repeating "we do not agree with it".

He added that the long-term policy for US immigration remains to be seen.

Any refugees or migrants who come to New Zealand are welcome, Mr English says.

"Even if they come from a troubled country they are welcome here, and we are satisfied we have a system that ensures that people who may be a real risk to New Zealand aren't able to get through."

He says he doesn't see a case for raising New Zealand's refugee quote right now. Labour and the Greens wants to double it.

Whether Mr Trump's actions made him a bigot was for others to decide.

Mr English wouldn't say whether he would raise the policy when he meets Mr Trump, but says he would expect to raise any issue that affected New Zealand.

He says he doesn't see a case for raising New Zealand's refugee quote right now.

Mr English's comments echo those of British Prime Minister Theresa May, who said at the weekend, "The United States is responsible for the United States' policy on refugees."

'I would expect better'

Labour leader Andrew Little has called English's stance "weak".

"We should be able to stand up to our very good friends and say, 'what you're doing is not right' and join the chorus of other voices around the world."

He says Mr English has been "missing in action" among world leaders speaking out against the policy.

"What he's provided frankly, is weak. I would expect better."

Mr Little says New Zealand has a strong record on humanitarian issues and we should be "calling Donald Trump out".

"We should stand proudly for what we believe in, which is people treated properly and fairly."

Immigration a hot topic

A report which concludes immigration is good for New Zealand and says the gates should stay open has been described by Winston Peters as "academic gobbledygook" based on nonsensical statements.

Right-leaning Think tank the New Zealand Initiative published the report on Monday.

It says immigration during the past several centuries turned an uninhabited island into one of the best countries to live in.

It acknowledges that net migration of 69,000 in the 2015/16 year raised valid concerns about competition for jobs and housing, but says politicians have harnessed fear and confusion about possible links with terrorism.

The NZ First leader says the report reflects a "jaundiced and biased" point of view.

"NZ Initiative has skewed its research to its advantage - to keep a lid on wages and add competition in the workforce," Mr Peters said on Monday.

"The researchers deliberately ignore major inquiries, like the influential House of Lords committee which stated that record levels of immigration have had 'little or no impact' on the economic wellbeing of Britons."

Newshub.

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