No Deportations!

On Monday night in quiet leafy suburbs in Lynfield, the silence was broken by calls for justice from a crowd of around 50 people. Justice for the 150 Indian students who have been swindled by immigration agents overseas and tertiary institutions here in New Zealand. The National Party was hosting a public meeting at the Lynfield Community Church behind locked doors and a police line, refusing to even hear the plight of these exploited students.  The meeting was a meet and greet with Deputy Prime Minister Bill English and National list MP Parmjeet Parmar with various locals including the owners of the International Academy, and National list MP Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi, who earlier in the week likened the students to faulty fridges from China during a radio interview.

“If New Zealand imports fridges from China for example, and those fridges are faulty, New Zealand sends them back to China.”

These students are not commodities to be shipped around. They are not faulty: the fault lies within the Immigration New Zealand that did not check those papers and continues to allow the Indian Agent in question to organise student visas. Immigration lawyer Alastair McClymont said the students got their student visas through an education agent based in India, who submitted fraudulent documents on their behalf and without their knowledge.

The fault also lies with the tertiary education provider who treats the students only as a commodity and when that money dries up, throws them back to their country of origin. IANZ (International Academy of New Zealand) this year was caught by NZQA for falsifying test results, students there found that teachers didn’t always turn up and one tutor, Jaswinder Kaur, told Newshub she was asked to falsify English language tests at the school to make sure the students passed. NZQA was prevented from doing a full investigation upon the owner Exzur Peralta, due to the selling of IANZ to EDENZ Colleges. This mimics other stories that have hit local papers around the country such as the activities of hospitality course provider PIHMS in New Plymouth and the liquidation of Agribusiness NZ (at the time NZs largest tertiary provider) where the owners have made mega-bucks through the exploitation of local and international students.

Tertiary providers across the country are wringing every last drop out of international students in order to grow the 4th largest export in the New Zealand economy. They won’t look at the visa papers beforehand, only after the students have paid up to $40,000 in immigration agents’ fees and tertiary education fees. Now Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse has refused to deal with this case, refusing to let the students even apply for new visas and has issued notices of deportation. He has refused a meeting with local NZ religious figures, union leaders and the students in question to talk about this. This is despite Immigration New Zealand acting to cancel deportation notices for Filipino migrant dairy workers last year and Chinese students facing the exact same situation in 2011.

These students are being used as scapegoats, to cover for the system that exploits students and to make sure that the Indian education market stays open. Even Universities New Zealand Executive Director Chris Whelan, who wants make sure that the cash pipeline of vulnerable students stays open, said the current situation was concerning. “Anything which basically undermines that, either through students that are failing because they can’t afford to be here or because they’re getting qualifications that isn’t worth the paper they’re printed on, that’s just bad for New Zealand.”

And yet the tertiary model is only growing. Just this year John Key exclaimed that he wanted to double the $3.8 Billion education export market in New Zealand. This will only mean more dodgy enterprises and partnerships between shoddy tertiary providers such as IANZ and immigration agents promising the hopes of a better life and actually delivering only poverty and misery and at the end deportation.

The International Socialist Organisation joins in solidarity with these students to call for a stop to their deportation at the very least and we call for support from students and workers alike. These students have been exploited by the immigration agents, their tertiary education provider and used by the government as scapegoats. This problem will keep rearing its head as long as universities and colleges see their students as commodities, as sources of income, and will not be solved until we can guarantee free education for all. But until that time we must unite in solidarity to defend these 150 students.