Migrant groups are welcoming a Green Party proposal to offer an amnesty for overstayers and residence for temporary workers.
By Gill Bonnett of rnz.co.nz
The party says the infamous 1970s' Dawn Raids - an immigration crackdown on Pacific Island overstayers - is why the government must create a pathway to residence for people without visas, an estimated 14,000 people.
The Greens' Pacific people spokesperson Teanau Tuiono has called for the government to apologise.
"The Dawn Raids are a shameful stain on New Zealand history, defined by racial tension and unrest as police and immigration authorities victimised Pacific Islanders they suspected of abusing the terms of their visas," he said.
Author and minister reverend Mua Strickson-Pua, who witnessed some of the raids, said the amnesty and pathways to residence would offer an opportunity to learn from that time and show more humanity to migrants.
"The apology for the Dawn Raids is critical for the next step of the development of how Aotearoa New Zealand wants to perceive itself and the way Pākehā are beginning to understand who they are," he said.
"And now how do we respond to Covid in a way that's worthy of our migrants? The way we treat the least of our migrant people in this country is an outcry about who we are as a nation."
The Green Party proposals include allowing temporary workers to be able to switch between employers, speeding up visa processing and a review of partnership visas.
The president of the Migrant Workers Association, Anu Kaloti, said people were often focused on problems when it came to immigration, and it was refreshing to instead see solutions for temporary migrants.
"Before Covid hit I believe we had about 380,000 people on temporary visas, that number has gone down to around 250,000 or 246,000," Kaloti said.
"These people are already living here, so it's not as if we're going to increase the population. And then there's the overstayers who are also here, so it makes sense to document them and give the temporary visa holders a more meaningful, permanent solution."
Association of New Kiwis Aotearoa (ANKA) vice-president Mauricio Kimura welcomed the proposals, saying it would open up a pathway for temporary migrants to settle and also solve the problems Immigration New Zealand have with visa processing.
A Migrant Lives Matter protest was held in Hamilton on Saturday afternoon to highlight the fate of stranded and separated families, and visa delays.