Protesters face off with Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi over split families, delayed visas

Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi faced emotional questions from migrants outside Parliament on Thursday. 

Many of them have been split from their families, while others are facing a two-year wait for their visas to be renewed. But the protesters didn't get the answers they were hoping for. 

"We need answers! We need answers!" the protesters demanded as they stood outside Parliament with the Immigration Minister looking down on them. 

Antonia O'Neil gave birth to her son Patrick in Aotearoa - he's a citizen - but she can't get residency. She was among migrants protesting. 

Many of the protesters were migrant workers who have been separated from their loved ones.

"Please, please give your attention to reunite with our families. I'm talking about all of the mothers who've lost their children," said Iresha Wijetunga, who last held her two children 450 days ago

Daniel Bredenkamp last saw his family 505 days ago.

"My 4-year-old daughter told her brother that she believed that daddy is dead - it's not easy for a father to hear that," he said at the protest. 

The Immigration Minister did come out to meet them. But in his speech, he offered no hope.

"I can't today bring you the news that you want to hear," he told the crowd. "We are acutely aware of the disruption that this is causing."

The Government has freed up some spots in managed isolation for healthcare workers to bring in their families. But so many more have been left waiting.

"It's difficult under the current climate because of the border closures to give absolute certainty to these people," Faafoi told reporters. 

Others protesting on Thursday were waiting for their visas to be renewed, stuck in limbo as officials work through 7000 visas, waiting to be processed. That will take at least two years. 

"One of the reasons is that the demand for the visas has increased well above what we forecast," Faafoi said. 

Many of these people were enticed to New Zealand with the promise of work, and a better life. Then the borders slammed shut, leaving many of them in limbo.

"Today, both on the steps of Parliament and in the House, we heard more empty rhetoric from the Minister of Immigration," said National's immigration spokesperson Erica Stanford. 

"He is refusing to reunite split migrant families, sort out the residence backlog, or to grant work visas to dependent children of migrant parents while they wait for their families residence applications to be processed."

All they want is certainty from the Government - something it seems unwilling to give.