Church leaders concerned at plight of Indian students facing deportation

Cardinal John Dew of Wellington, New Zealand, arrives for a session of the Synod of Bishops on the family at the Vatican Oct. 14. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) See SYNOD-SECOND-REPORTS Oct. 14, 2015 and SYNOD-DEW Oct. 12, 2015.

Cardinal John Dew and leaders of the Anglican and Methodist churches in New Zealand have spoken out about the plight of the Indian students currently facing deportation from this country.

 As leaders in our three Churches we wish to publicly state our concern about the proposed deportation of several students from India for falsification of their visa papers, said Cardinal Dew, Archbishop Philip Richardson and Rev. Prince Devandanan.

The church leaders do not believe the students intended to deceive the New Zealand Government in this way.

“Having looked at their situation it seems to us that these students have been duped by unscrupulous immigration agents in India. In a previous similar cases we understand that where documentation had been deemed falsified by immigration agents then the group was allowed to stay.” Archbishop Richardson said.

This points to an inconsistency in policy and an unfair treatment of this group of students, the leaders stated.

A statement by the church leaders noted that “the students were up-to- date with course fees at their educational establishments. They could not draw New Zealand benefits because they are not citizens or residents. Most of them were tax-paying workers according to their visa conditions and they were contributing to the New Zealand economy via their taxes, course fees and general living expenses”.

“We do not deny that the New Zealand Government has a duty to carefully scrutinise immigration applications, nor that applicants have a responsibility in regard to their applications. However these can be complicated processes and the role and legitimacy of immigration agents also needs careful scrutiny. Immigration New Zealand seems to have erred in its processes as well.”

 “We urge the Government to re-consider the case of these students. We do so on the basis of concern for the human situation of the students, our Christian responsibility to care for ‘the stranger, the widow and the orphan’ among us, and a concern for just application of New Zealand’s immigration policy,” Cardinal John Dew said.  

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Michael Otto

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