Immigration is a controversial topic in politics. There are differing views on whether there should be more or less migration. The refugee component of the immigration numbers are a relative small group of approximately 2,000 migrants. This number is made up of 1,500 refugees and around 500 family members. To be classed a refugee, a migrant needs to have been processed through the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Official refugee status is gained through an interview process in which individual and family history is examined. Immigration New Zealand has a policy of bringing in the entire family of the applicant. Once in New Zealand, refugees spend time at the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre where they are given information designed to help them to integrate into communities. Families are then settled in one of our settlement centres, such as Hamilton. Grouping refugees together helps create a sense of community. Many refugees arrive to New Zealand with nothing and it is a struggle for them to find their feet in an unfamiliar country and culture. Gaining employment or education is a key issue for our refugees. These families often need to access state housing and that is a big part of the immigration process. The decision to increase New Zealand’s refugee quota by 500 people in 2018 was projected to cost $146 million over 5 years as refugee services grow to accommodate demand. The current issue is whether the Government has provided enough resources to support these extra refugees when they do arrive. The Settlement Centre for Waikato is currently swamped and is trying hard to keep up with demand as they provide key services such as teaching English.
Therefore, when talking about whether New Zealand is meeting our international obligations to refugees, it’s not just about the number of refugees who we accept into the country but also how well these refugees are then supported to thrive in their new lives.