Government coming under pressure to fix yet another immigration anomaly

The Government is coming under pressure to fix yet another immigration anomaly - this time construction workers arriving in New Zealand are able to bring their families but those already here cannot.

Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi is refusing to address the problem as separated families get set to protest at Parliament on Thursday. 

The anomaly is devastating for Iresha Wijetunga, who last held her two children 450 days ago. The quantity surveyor hadn't spent one day away from her family before getting on a flight to New Zealand last February.

"Sometimes in my dreams, I'm hugging my son in my dreams very tightly," she told Newshub, holding back tears. 

Her family was set to follow her to New Zealand in March. Then the borders shut.

"It was a very traumatic situation," Wijetunga says.

They've applied for border exemptions - all declined. She's invested tens of thousands of dollars moving to and studying in New Zealand and doesn't want to sacrifice everything she's given up. She's also a critical construction worker - we need her.

"I even worked over the full lockdown period as a supermarket worker," Wijetunga says.

But Faafoi isn't budging. 

"The ability to bring people through the border is very limited by our managed isolation capacity," he said on Wednesday. 

Last month the Immigration Minister finally fixed an anomaly, which allowed migrant healthcare workers to bring in their families. Other skilled workers can also bring their families in, but only if their visas were active on April 30. 

Wijetunga's family's expired exactly one month too early.

"We just need to reunite with our family," she says. 

And what really stings is 240 spots in managed isolation were this week allocated to construction workers, like Wijetunga. They'll be able to bring in their families.

Immigration advisor Katy Armstrong says it's the Government's "cherry-picking which is so painful". 

She's seen skilled workers just give up and leave.

"It's almost as if they'd been worked out to keep more people out than in."

Faafoi is refusing to act.

"Keeping the country safe is a priority for us," he says. 

National's immigration spokesperson Erica Stanford says split migrant families need some hope. 

"The minister has to come out with a roadmap for reunification for all split migrant families," she told Newshub. 

On Thursday, migrant families will protest at Parliament. The Government only fixed the healthcare worker anomaly after immense pressure, but in doing so potentially created another snag. 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her Immigration Minister should expect another public backlash.