Scoop is now reporting that Cabinet is offering a deal to Afghani interpreters to resettle in New Zealand when our troops withdraw next year; check this out:
A group of Afghan interpreters working for the New Zealand Defence Force and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Bamyan will be offered resettlement in New Zealand.
Defence Minister Dr Jonathan Coleman and Immigration Minister Nathan Guy announced today an assistance package for the 23 interpreters currently employed by the Provincial Reconstruction Team.
Cabinet approved the package on Tuesday and a process is underway to communicate the decision to the interpreters in Bamyan.
The package allows for interpreters to be resettled in New Zealand with their immediate dependents or opt for a three year salary payment so that they can relocate elsewhere in Afghanistan, should they wish to do so.
“The interpreters are playing a critical role in the operation of the PRT in Bamyan enabling the PRT to interact effectively with the local population,” said Dr Coleman.
“Offering assistance to current interpreters employed by the government reflects the view that New Zealand should demonstrate a duty of care to this group who have served New Zealand with the work of the Provincial Reconstruction Team,” he said.
The Government has absolutely done the right thing by offering the interpreters a chance to make their homes in New Zealand. They have served the NZDF with distinction, putting their lives on the line.
In many ways, these interpreters will be absolutely brilliant migrants. They have already had some form of immersion into New Zealand culture via their interactions with NZDF personnel. And we have little doubt whatsoever that they will become loyal, contributing New Zealanders when they settle here.
Back to the Scoop release though; read on (with our emphasis added):
Immigration Minister Nathan Guy says the interpreters are not “refugees” as defined by the Refugee Convention or have asylum seeker status, but will be granted residence under a discretion offered by Section 72 of the Immigration Act.
“Those who wish to come to New Zealand will be offered the same initial resettlement arrangements as offered under the annual refugee quota, including a six week resettlement programme at the Mangere Refugee Centre.
“They will not displace refugees offered places under our United Nations High Commissioners for Refugees (UNHCR) quota of 750 people per year,” says Mr Guy.
Approximately 73 people would be offered places if all currently employed interpreters and their immediate dependents elected to take residency.
Just 73 in total, immediate families included? That's not what Winston Peters was thundering on about:
But by opening the door at all, New Zealand First says it could be impossible to close again.“Well they will have effectively jumped the UN queue for a start,” says Winston Peters. “The second thing is they will be bringing hundreds of thousands as well with them. That’s the previous model.”
Once again Winston Peters has shot from the lip, and got it wrong. Far from "bringing hundreds of thousands with them as well", a total of 73 Afghanis will be offered the opportunity to resettle in New Zealand, including the 23 interpreters.
If ever there were immigrants that we should welcome with open arms, it is these ones. The Government has absolutely made the right decision, and instead of condemning the migrants, Winston Peters and his fellow travellers should be at the airport to greet them.