Immigration New Zealand needs to 'reserve the option' to use dawn-raid style tactics, Christopher Luxon says

Christopher Luxon says officials need to "reserve the option" to use dawn-raid style operations should they be needed to catch illegal immigrants.

Last month, a construction worker was removed from his home by police and immigration officials as his four scared children watched on, an Auckland community lawyer said

That's despite, in 2021, the Government apologising for racially targeted immigration raids on Pacific Islanders in the 1970s - otherwise known as the "dawn raids". 

Acting Prime Minister Carmel Sepuloni said on Tuesday Immigration New Zealand was on notice over the latest report of dawn raid tactics being used, saying the Government didn't want officials "acting in a way where they are re-traumatising our Pacific community".

But Luxon, the National Party leader, said those visits should be used in some cases.

"I think we've got to be really sensitive to historical challenges we've had around overstayers and dawn raids as such, but I think you still need to reserve the option," Luxon told AM.  

As of March, Immigration New Zealand estimated there were about 14,000 overstayers in Aotearoa. 

Luxon said, "the reality is, you need to be here legally" or "you could be liable for deportation".

"That's completely reasonable for any country to make that decision… it's not like we're overly zealous about it but, often, there are good reasons why you might want that option on the table with respect to someone who is also involved in serious criminal offending or a security risk to New Zealand."

Between 1974 and 1976, police raided the homes of Pasifika families and carried out spot-checks in the streets - hunting for people who'd overstayed their visas. 

During the formal Government apology in 2021, then-Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described the dawn raids as being "vividly etched in the memory of those who were directly impacted".