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Auckland immigration advisor calls for government action on plight of separated migrant families

Auckland immigration specialist Katy Armstrong talks to Radio Tarana's Vandhna Bhan on the plight of work visa holders stuck offshore. (First published November 26, 2020 here)

The government urgently needs to come up with an answer for migrant workers separated from their families while the borders remain closed, says an Auckland immigration advisor. Katy Armstrong, in an interview with Radio Tarana, said there was a lack of empathy and understanding from the government regarding the plight of the separated families. Scores of families remain separated from their spouses and/or children while the borders remain closed amid the Covid-19 pandemic response from the government.

"Not only do these families have to endure separation, they have to endure that lack of communication, that feeling that they're absolutely at the bottom of the heap," said Armstrong, who is a licensed immigration advisor from Into NZ. There's such a lack of empathy and understanding around it." "I don't care what the government says, they keep slicing and dicing the numbers in different ways," Armstrong said. "It's actually got to the point where my message to the government and to New Zealanders is that this is just not OK, at this point in time, it is just not OK to not deal with separated families. It doesn't matter how you slice and dice it, government, you need to come up with an answer for these families, this is not sustainable for them and we're very concerned about their mental health." Armstrong said a lack of communication around the issue was hurting the affected parties even more. "We've got parents who are working their guts out here in New Zealand, they gave up everything to come to New Zealand, they sold their homes, shipped their belongings - all based on a job offer in New Zealand after New Zealand sought out these skilled migrants. And now that they are here, and separated from their families, no one is going up them and saying it's all very difficult but we're absolutely committed to reviewing it, coming up with a solution for you, sharing our managed isolation space," Armstrong said. She called on the government to start communicating with immigration advisors and the migrants alike, saying it was inhumane the way the government was treating them. "As far as I can see, one planeload would sort out the majority of the most serious cases involving young children," Armstrong said. "A planeload - to visualise it - would actually deal with it, and we could so easily put those families into our managed isolation."

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