Halt put on dawn-raid-style immigration checks, review ordered

MBIE has put a halt on dawn-raid-style operations by Immigration officers and ordered a review.

Concern was raised by the Pasifika community this week after a construction worker was removed from his home before dawn in front of his children.

Late Friday afternoon, MBIE chief executive Carolyn Tremain announced the pause on out-of-hours compliance checks for people who had overstayed their visas.

"The right and proper thing to do is to stop out-of-hours visits while the review is carried out," said Tremain.

"Pacific leaders have voiced their deep concerns and unhappiness at recent events and it's clear that lessons still need to be learned following the Dawn Raids of the 1970s and the formal apology made by the Government in August 2021."

Earlier this week acting Prime Minister Carmel Sepuloni put Immigration New Zealand on notice saying it should not be "acting in a way where they are re-traumatising our Pacific community".

The Immigration Minister was forced to act too, telling Immigration out-of-hours dawn raids must now be signed off by the head of Immigration.

The review will be led by Mike Heron KC and will look into the existing policies and processes for such visits by Immigration officers.

MBIE said between July 2022 and May 2 this year Immigration officers dealt with 657 people who either left the country voluntarily or were deported.

It said 20 of those visits took place outside its then-standard hours of 7am to 9pm.

"Ministers have expressed their expectations and we will explore ways to achieve these expectations while maintaining public safety," Tremain said today.

"In all our endeavours we try to engage respectfully with the occupants of premises and at all times our compliance officers are expected to act with professionalism and integrity."

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