Knock me down with a feather, I agree with Rachel Smalley

Andrew Little chases another passing bus

It is rare that I agree with Rachel Smalley, but occasionally she gets something right.

Admittedly it isn’t often, but yesterday she was on the money.

The nine Indian students who are facing deportation for visa fraud and are living temporarily in a Church in the Auckland suburb of Ponsonby.

What a position they’re in, and what a position Immigration New Zealand is in, too, writes Rachel Smalley.

The students signed their visa applications and in doing so, they signed fraudulent documents filled out by their agents. They paid those agents in India to help them to apply for a New Zealand visa, and it is the agents – they say – who are at fault here.

Not so. It is they who are at fault and whether it’s knowingly or unknowingly, the students have committed fraud. ?

That is a good point. They still signed the forms thereby associating themselves with the fraud.

I have been through a similar process. I married a South African in London and when our son was one, we moved to New Zealand.

It was all quite sudden. I had a week until I was on-air hosting Nightline on TV3 and I was trying to find somewhere to live, so I employed an agent to look after my husband’s visa.

You have to jump through a lot of hoops to get a resident’s visa… in our case, we had to prove our marriage wasn’t a sham, both of us needed police checks from the British Police and in my husband’s case, from South Africa too. He needed full medicals, authenticated birth certificates, proof that we’d lived together for some time… you name it, we needed it. And that’s why I used an agent.

And when we came to sign that final application, it stated very clearly that a signature was verification that everything in that application true and correct. It doesn’t matter if you’ve used an agent – it is you, the applicant, who is liable if anything is incorrect. And I remember spending a lot of time going through that visa application because if Immigration New Zealand finds something wrong with it, you can find yourself on pretty shaky ground.

So while I have some compassion for the plight of these students, the law is the law. Their applications are fraudulent. They cannot be allowed to stay in this country. Imagine the precedent that would set? They can leave the country by their own free will, or be forcefully deported. If police have to enter that church and forcefully deport them, then so be it.

And I also question the role of the Church in this. The Unitarian Church. These nine students are not asylum seekers. They are not going to face political or religious persecution if they return to India. Their lives are not at risk so quite why the Church has stepped in here is a little baffling. The Church is sheltering illegal immigrants who have committed fraud. That is not the role of The Church. That is not, in my opinion, God’s work.

Police, in the end, will likely have to forcefully deport them. I suspect they’ll do it at night when the TV cameras and the media aren’t around – but that is the only acceptable outcome in this. There is no other option but deportation.

They paid the agents, but they still had to sign the forms. That is a fraud. Out they go.


– NZ Herald