Tough guidelines on deporting illegal US immigrants

Donald Trump is following through on his promise to get even tougher than Barack Obama on deporting illegal immigrants.

BBC: US unveils sweeping orders to deport illegal immigrants

The Trump administration has issued tough guidelines to widen the net for deporting illegal immigrants from the US, and speed up their removal.

Undocumented immigrants arrested for traffic violations or shop-lifting will be targeted along with those convicted of more serious crimes.

All 11 million or so undocumented foreigners in the US could be affected.

But the plan leaves in place Obama-era protections for immigrants who entered the US illegally as children.

Fox News: DHS secretary orders immigration agent hiring surge, end to ‘catch-and-release’

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly moved Tuesday to implement a host of immigration enforcement changes ordered by President Trump, directing agency heads to hire thousands more officers, end so-called “catch-and-release” policies and begin work on the president’s promised U.S.-Mexico border wall.

“It is in the national interest of the United States to prevent criminals and criminal organizations from destabilizing border security,” Kelly wrote in one of two memos released Tuesday by the department.

The memos follow up on Trump’s related executive actions from January and, at their heart, aim to toughen enforcement by expanding the categories of illegal immigrants targeted for deportation.

The memos cover a sprawling set of initiatives including:

  • Prioritizing criminal illegal immigrants and others for deportation, including those convicted or charged with “any criminal offense,” or who have “abused” any public welfare program
  • Expanding the 287(g) program, which allows participating local officers to act as immigration agents – and had been rolled back under the Obama administration
  • Starting the planning, design and construction of a U.S.-Mexico border wall
  • Hiring 10,000 Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and officers
  • Hiring 5,000 Border Patrol agents
  • Ending “catch-and-release” policies under which illegal immigrants subject to deportation potentially are allowed to “abscond” and fail to appear at removal hearings

It’s unclear what timelines the secretary is setting for some of these objectives, and what budgetary and other constraints the department and its myriad agencies will face.

In pursuing an end to “catch-and-release,” one memo called for a plan with the Justice Department to “surge” immigration judges and asylum officers to handle additional cases.

This is attempting to fulfil campaign promises, but risks major disruption of families and communities and could impact significantly on companies relying on immigrant labour.


Trump on Swedish ‘incident’ and immigration problems

Claims of immigration related crime in Sweden isn’t new online, but it does appear to be new when the US president makes claims about it that seem to have no factual basis (about another country, Donald Trump seems to lack a factual basis to many things he talks about in the US).

Reuters: Trump comment about immigration ‘problems’ baffles Sweden

U.S. President Donald Trump’s suggestion that Sweden experienced an immigration-related security incident prompted a baffled response from the Scandinavian country on Sunday as diplomats asked for an explanation and citizens responded with amusement.

Trump cited Sweden as a country that had experienced problems with immigrants in remarks at a rally on Saturday.

“You look at what’s happening last night in Sweden,” Trump said. “Sweden. Who would believe this? Sweden. They took in large numbers. They’re having problems like they never thought possible.”

That appeared to confuse the Swedish government, which asked the U.S. State Department to explain what the new president meant.

“We are trying to get clarity,” Swedish Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Catarina Axelsson said.

Swedish news sources made no mention of a recent terrorism attack or other high-profile crime in the country.

“Nothing spectacular happened in Sweden on Friday,” wrote the Local, an English-language website in Sweden.

Fox News ran a report on Friday night about alleged migrant-related crime problems in the country.

Sweden’s crime rate has fallen since 2005, official statistics show, even as the country has taken in hundreds of thousands of immigrants from war-torn countries like Syria and Iraq.

Trump has apparently ‘clarified’ where he got his information – Fox News.

The Hill: Trump clarifies remarks on Sweden: I got it from Fox News story

Former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt also questioned Trump’s claims.

“Sweden? Terror attack? What has he been smoking? Questions abound,” he tweeted.

This would seem to be the Fox News item: What the US could learn from Sweden’s refugee crisis

Feb. 17, 2017 – 6:15 – Sweden has taken in hundreds of thousands of refugees and rape and violence has since skyrocketed. A journalist took a close look at Sweden’s refugee crisis and at what ‘extreme vetting’ really means #Tucker

I think there is some debate about crime statistics in Sweden, especially in relation to immigration.

It also seems to be new that a US president bases commentary of foreign issues in Fox News coverage.

US businesses versus Trump

Donald Trump may be starting to find out that what may seem simple clampdowns on travel for ‘security’ reasons can have wide ranging effects that the new White House strategists may not have foreseen.

Trump now has more than a few judges opposing his travel restrictions, he now has many large US businesses challenging him legally.

The companies include Google, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook,Twitter, Intel, eBay, Netflix, Uber, Amazon and Expedia.

RNZ: Apple, Google, Facebook among 100 firms opposing Trump’s travel ban

Apple, Google and Microsoft have joined a legal brief opposing US President Donald Trump’s temporary travel ban, arguing it “inflicts significant harm on American business.”

The brief was signed by nearly 100 companies including Facebook, Twitter, Intel , eBay, Netflix and Uber, as well as non-tech companies such as Levi Strauss and Chobani.

The document is an amicus brief, which allows parties not directly involved in a case but who feel they are affected by it, to give their view.

Mr Trump’s executive order, the most contentious policy move of his first two weeks in office, faces crucial legal hurdles. It had temporarily barred entry to the United States by people from seven mostly Muslim countries, as well as suspending the US refugee programme.

A federal judge in Seattle on Friday blocked the move, and the Trump administration has a deadline on Monday (6pm Tuesday NZT) to justify the action.

“The order represents a significant departure from the principles of fairness and predictability that have governed the immigration system of the United States for more than fifty years,” the brief from the companies stated.

“The order inflicts significant harm on American business, innovation, and growth as a result,” it added.

“Immigrants or their children founded more than 200 of the companies on the Fortune 500 list.”

Immigrants and especially the next generation are often cited as a major terrorism risk, with scant evidence beyond a few isolated examples.

On the other hand, in reality land, immigrants and their families have been a huge part of American success for a long time.

US tech companies, which employ many foreign-born nationals, have been among the most vocal groups in speaking out against Mr Trump’s travel order. and Expedia, both based in Washington state, supported the Seattle lawsuit, asserting that the travel restrictions harmed their businesses.

It’s not just those who are directly restricted that cause problems. The uncertainties about entry to the US and about immigration is likely to cause many more people to reconsider the US as a destination.

Unforeseen effects and unintended consequences may end up becoming big issues for a very inexperienced White House.

And Trump’s habit of shooting from the hip at anyone who criticises him or opposes what he is trying to do may lead to mayhem, including a significant loss of business confidence in the US.

Reactive refugee quota demands

One of the reactions to the US immigration restrictions imposed recently has been to demand an immediate increase in New Zealand’s refugee quota.

Some of those making these demands have previously demanded a decrease in overall immigration.

It has become common for demands based on news events, both national and international. It is not a good idea to rush into implementing knee jerk policies – especially considering the irony of the strong criticism of Donald Trump rushing his new restrictions.

Mr Little has described the US policies as bigotry, and the Greens say New Zealand should speak out when “injustice” occurs overseas.

Both parties have reiterated their pledge to double New Zealand’s refugee quota, currently set at 750.

It was Labour and Green policy to increase the refugee quota anyway. Little and James Shaw – see  Greens would double refugee quota as priority – is using the Trump media attention for opportunistic attention seeking.

It’s not just opposition MPs grandstanding by making refugee demands. Peter Dunne via The Spinoff: NZ’s response should be loud and clear: what is happening in Trump’s America is an outrage

We need not just to boldly condemn the current US approach, but to act, by doubling in our refugee quota, argues Hon Peter Dunne.

And in a Stuff editorial: New Zealand must condemn President Trump’s bigotry

With condemnation of Trump’s action around the world, we would be in good company to oppose his policy in any way we can. Reviewing the quota of refugees accepted into New Zealand would be a good place to start.

While Trump’s immigration restrictions have been rushed (deliberately) and poorly implemented, and are highly questionable,  he made it fairly clear during the presidential campaign and since then that he would do something like this.

And there is quite strong support in the US for Trump’s poll, according to a poll.


While President Donald Trump’s executive order blocking immigration from seven Muslim-majority nations sparked protests and confusion across the U.S., almost half of American voters are in favor of blocking immigration from “terror prone” countries, according to a newly released poll.

“American voters support 48 – 42 percent suspending immigration from ‘terror prone’ regions, even if it means turning away refugees from those regions,” states a press release from Quinnipiac University, which questioned 899 people by calling their landline and cell phones in early January.

The poll reflected the strong anti-immigration and anti-refugee views held by Trump supporters in Northeastern Pennsylvania, a region that was crucial in the president’s surprise victory last year.

While many find the policy repugnant, and there have been some awful examples of ‘collateral damage’, the US can do what it wants to.

Bill English was slow and slack in responding yesterday, and while he said it wasn’t something that would happen in New Zealand, he was more too diplomatic for some critics who don’t have to try to work with Trump and the US.

Immigration can be a tricky thing, and changes to our policies shouldn’t be rushed every time opposition MPs and media demand it.

NZ Herald has a different slant in Time for a kinder immigration debate

Donald Trump built his presidential campaign around the idea that illegal immigrants were the cause of America’s woes.

Now he has acted on that idea, bluntly and with chilling consequences for many innocent people whose only crime seems to be coming from a country he does not favour.

It is vital that New Zealand doesn’t follow this path towards radical policy change based on unfounded fears.

This country has been experiencing record immigration.

The gain of more than 70,000 long-term arrivals in the year to November surpasses the raw numbers arriving at the height of the colonial era in the 19th century.

So there is something to talk about. The face of New Zealand is changing.

But there is an ever-present risk of xenophobia and outright racism in raising this debate.

To point the finger at immigrants themselves for the pressures that population change may bring is either lazy or cynical.

If there was a sudden increase in refugee quota other MPs would be trying to make an issue of it, like Winston Peters. And if refugees happened to have Chinese sounding names and wanted to buy property Labour might make an issue of it.

There seems to be good grounds for more Government research on the issue. Just as there are good grounds to debate current policy in the coming general election.

But we should be wary of politicians who look to make gains by targeting any one segment of our population based primarily on who they are and where they come from.

New Zealand should strive to be better than that. We have a chance to show the world there is another path.

Doing things well usually takes time rather than responding to every knee jerk demand.


English on US immigration

Ignoring demands (if he heard any of them) to immediatelyjump up and down, express indignation and somehow do something about the US immigration furore Bill English waited until this afternoon to comment.

RNZ: English on Trump order: ‘We don’t agree with it’

The prime minister says he disagrees with the United States’ entry restrictions on citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries, but has not made his views known to President Donald Trump.

Mr English has been under mounting pressure to condemn Mr Trump’s immigration order.

Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy this morning urged him to make a statement – “if anything to assure the Muslim New Zealanders living in New Zealand that we’re going to look after them”.

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei told Morning Report the order was “grossly unjust” and Mr English needed to join other country leaders and show “moral leadership”.

Many on social media joined the demands for a rapid response from English, regardless of it’s futility.

Bill English said today he would not implement such a ban in New Zealand and disagreed with it, but he had not been in touch with Mr Trump to make his views clear.

“We wouldn’t implement the kind of policy that is being implemented and we don’t agree with it.”

When asked why he had not criticised Mr Trump’s order, Mr English said, “I just have”.

“We’re not being meek at all. President Trump has got to deal with his own issues and his own election promises.”

“We don’t agree with the policy. We have to yet to see just what turns out to be the long-term policy for the US, because this is a temporary measure.”

“It does appear to have created some real chaos in the short term.”

Discrimination was “not the New Zealand way”.

When asked if Mr Trump was “a bigot”, Mr English said it was “for others to decide”.

“It’s not our job to tell them how to run their country.”

There’s nothing New Zealand can do about the US immigration issues.

Labour leader Andrew Little said he expected a stronger response from the Government.

What Little, Turei and others don’t seem to understand is what it’s like being in a position of governmental responsibility. Barking at selected international passing cars with zero bite won’t achieve anything except risk getting offside with other countries.

It’s similar to the demands of others for a particular response from the Government on the UN vote on Israeli settlements.

There’s a bit more to international diplomacy, especially successful diplomacy, than jumping and shouting at the behest of people and groups who don’t have to think about or deal with any repercussions.

There’s absolutely nothing New Zealand can do about the current US immigration policy changes.

What Little and Turei seem intent on is trying to embarrass English as part of the election campaign they have just launched.

A strong leader knows when to keep their mouths shut, and when it’s appropriate to say something.

Winston’s bottom lines

There’s a lot of unknowns about how next year’s election will go. One of the biggest questions will be how National goes under Bill English’s leadership – will their support drop now John Key has stepped down? Will it stay dropped?

Labour are still struggling to be a major party. They seem to have given up competing head to head with National, and are now relying on Labour+Greens, but their Memorandum of Understanding doesn’t seem to have enthused voters.

There is one certainty – the media will continue to promote Winston Peters as ‘kingmaker’. There’s a good chance (but no guarantee) NZ First will end up in a position where they can play National off against Labour+Greens. Winston remains adamant he won’t do that until after the election.

But there have already a few bottom lines mentioned.

1. Superannuation

New Zealand First’s objective is to preserve the entitlement of New Zealanders to retire and receive New Zealand Superannuation (NZS) as it now is with eligibility at 65 years and as a universal non-contributory publicly funded pension scheme with no means-testing.

It’s very unlikely Winston would relent on this one.

2. No Maori Party

Ensure the future of the Maori seats is a decision for the people to make having examined the significant increase in representation numbers of Maori MPs under MMP.

And (in June 2016):

Stopping separatism …is a bottom line for NZ First working with any future government, Winston Peters says.

“…and for example a parallel state where you’ve got a state within a state because of separatist racist laws then we will not go down that path and I’m saying it right now.”

Peters has ruled out a coalition that included the Maori Party in the past. This doesn’t look like changing.

3. Immigration

New Zealand First is committed to a rigorous and strictly applied immigration policy that serves New Zealand’s interests. Immigration should not be used as a source of cheap labour to undermine New Zealanders’ pay and conditions.

The rest of their Immigration policy sounds strong but is actually vague.

…stopping mass immigration is a bottom line for NZ First working with any future government, Winston Peters says.

“…if mass immigration continued…then we will not go down that path and I’m saying it right now.”

It’s difficult to know what Winston would insist on for immigration, but he plays the immigration card often to supporters so would have to make some demands.

4. Pike River Re-entry

Winston Peters says Pike River re-entry is bottom line to election deals

Winston Peters says re-entering Pike River mine is a “bottom line” to any election deal made next year.

“I’m making no bones about it, we’ll give these people a fair-go, and yes this is a bottom line, and it shouldn’t have to be,” he said on TV’s Paul Henry show on Wednesday morning.

Any political party seeking New Zealand First’s support to form a government in the 2017 election will have to commit to re-entering the mine.

National want to leave any re-entry decision up to Solid Energy. Andrew Little has supported re-entry but has not absolutely committed Labour to it.

5. Police numbers

Winston Peters demands 1800 extra police

The New Zealand First leader and Northland MP wants the number of police officers increased by 27 percent, in line with Australia’s per capita ratio.

“We’re looking at something like 1800-1900 officers just as a start now to get to a level where we once were, and then build upon that,” he says.

He says it’s a bottom line in any negotiations regarding the formation of the next Government.

So that is five bottom lines that I’m aware of.

? Prime Minister

Arise Sir Winston, Prime Minister of New Zealand?

…here’s another theory that’s been doing the rounds much longer.

It is that Peters will only retire after he has fulfilled his ambition of one day being prime minister. It’s even said to have been put on the able in NZ First’s protracted negotiations to form a government in 1996.


Forget ‘kingmaker’, Winston Peters wants to be the next Prime Minister

That seems to be a claim only on the Paul Henry Show, Peters doesn’t say that. But is that one of his goals?

I don’t think National would agree to a Winston as PM deal, but would Labour and Greens, where none of none of Little, Metiria Turei and James Shaw have any government experience? Peters has already been deputy Prime Minister, from 16 December 1996 to 14 August 1998 (under Jim Bolger).

Are there other Winston/NZ First bottom lines so far?

Jump in immigrant numbers

There’s been a jump in migrant inquiries and in immigrants arriving in New Zealand since the Brexit vote in the UK, and after Donald Trump’s win in the US election.

RNZ: Jump in US, Brit migrants after Brexit, Trump win

Work visas for British citizens increased by 1500 in the three months to November, compared with the period around the June referendum on leaving the European Union, the Immigration department’s figures show.

The number of Britons becoming New Zealand residents was up 8 percent from the 2014/15 year – the first rise in a decade.

The increase in British citizens moving to New Zealand:

  • May, June, July  – 5385
  • August, September, October – 6882

And from the US:

Early figures also suggest a jump in immigrants from the United States since the controversial Republican and former Reality TV star Donald Trump was elected president last month.

Work visas for Americans rose 15 percent between October and November.

No indication whether this is a normal-ish fluctuation, or abnormal.

Britain and America accounted for more visits to the Immigration website after the presidential vote than the next 13 countries combined, including China and India.

Can we cope with more foreign cultures flooding into New Zealand?

‘Progress will prevail’

Today’s Herald editorial talks of A year marked by backward steps – naming flag change and TPP failures as well as Brexit and Trump – but thinks that progress will prevail.


New Zealand, like all postcolonial countries, is on an inevitable trajectory of independence and even the most ardent traditionalists know it.

In time, the replacement of its flag will be one of the easier changes it makes. In time, the very name of the nation will probably change too.

Probably, but it may take some time. I’m not confident of all of flag change, name change and establishing a comprehensive constitution happening in my lifetime given the lack of maturity evident with the flag debate which was dominated by petty politics.


The US election, too, was a re-assertion of nationalism, not just in economics and trade but in culture and ethnicity. Many have taken fright at the scale of migration in the modern, more integrated world.

But threats from migration have been overstated and the benefits not acknowledged by demagogues who have succeeded in politics this year. Migration is needed by most developed countries with ageing populations and birth rates below replacement level.

More important, migration enriches the receiving countries economically and culturally. Life is more better for the variety of skills, tastes and interests migrants bring.

Democracies have succumbed to fear this year because of terrorism from the Muslim world. Even the US, facing a fraction of the numbers pressing on the EU’s borders, has been unnerved.

But fear is not humanity’s natural state. We are an optimistic species and progress will prevail.

The problems with immigration and Muslim terrorism and refugees won’t disappear by shutting borders (when has a country ever thrived by shutting itself off from the rest of the world?) and taking wide scale punitive action.

Overall in the world progress has prevailed for a long time so there’s good reason to be optimistic progress will continue.

So far this century has been far safer than the last for the majority of humans, and the overall standard of living has improved.

Take poverty (a much discussed topic this year in New Zealand):


Data source: World Poverty in absolute numbers (Max Roser based on World Bank and Bourguignon and Morrisson (2002)) CC BY-SA

We have to be optimistic that we can continue to progress. There will be setbacks but overall we have to hope and try for better.

Earthquake repairs and immigrant workers

There are obviously a lot of rebuilding and repairs required after the Culverden, Kaikoura, Seddon and Wellington earthquakes. This will require workers. Who is available?

The building industry is already stretched as house building increases to meet demand, although there may be some wind down in Christchurch that can move north.

New Zealand doesn’t have a large pool of road rebuilding workers on standby.

It would take years to train up youth and the unemployed, even if there were enough capable and willing to do this sort of work.

So will we have to look to immigrant workers to help out again? Some think this will be essential.

RNZ: Wanted: 1000 workers to rebuild earthquake-hit roads

Construction bosses say at least 1000 workers will be needed to rebuild roads and buildings after last week’s earthquakes.

Scott Mathieson, of recruitment and immigration firm Working In, said those skills were already scarce in New Zealand.

He was already looking for more workers from the Philippines, he said.

He guessed repairing the earthquake-damaged roads and buildings would need more than 1000 extra workers.

“Most employers feel they’ve tapped out the local resource, so a good proportion of that will have to come from overseas to get the job done on time.”

He said “definitely hundreds” of migrant workers would be needed.

The Building Construction Industry Training Organisation said the industry was caught short on skilled workers after the global financial crisis.

It was struggling to fill gaps created by the building boom.

Chief executive Warwick Quinn said thousands more construction workers were already needed over the next five years – before last week’s destructive earthquakes.

“It’s all of the people right through the supply chain, its not just people on the ground, its the oversight, its the management… They are highly technically skilled people and the sector’s struggling to find those.”

Can current contractors cope with the workload?

Civil Contractors New Zealand boss Peter Silcock agreed hundreds if not thousands of workers would be needed.

As the Canterbury rebuild tapered off, contractors could cope, he said.

Infrastructure New Zealand chief executive Stephen Selwood said major contractors and the government were already talking about forming an alliance to speed up the work.

“I think there’s months of work here. It would be great if it could be done quicker, but I would be expecting early new year at best.”

There may be enough civil contracting companies, but are there enough workers available?

Mr Selwood said other major projects, like Transmission Gully, would go ahead as planned, but maintenance and renewal jobs could be delayed as resources were put into earthquake work.

Local potholes may grow. I know that Dunedin resources are already moving up to North Canterbury, and are already causing delays here.

Peters – Trump’s immigration policy ‘compelling’

Winston Peters continues to position himself as New Zealand’s version of Donald Trump.

Interesting comments there from Winston in interview with – wouldn’t answer press gallery reporters questions yesterday.

Very interesting – he said he found Trump’s immigration policy “compelling”

While both Trump and Peters share the use of divisive populist policies to attract attention and votes there is one huge difference.

Trumps appeal to many was that he was not part of the political establishment, he was ‘not Washington’.

While Peters keeps playing the maverick card, he couldn’t be much more established as a Wellington politician.

Trump has never stood for office and has never been elected before.

Peters was first elected as a Member of Parliament in 1978. That’s 38 years ago. He has been part of the political furniture for four decades.