The good news is that our Immigration Minister has put the “pilot data modelling programme” on hold, with assurances that race and nationality were never used. I sincerely hope so, because there are huge issues if it does get used. From Gordon Campbell:
Apparently….age, gender, ethnicity and country of origin are all “data sets” that go into the model guiding how INZ makes its decisions about which immigrants should be allowed access to this country’s resources and opportunities …and as Alistair Murray. INZ’s head of Compliance and Investigations helpfully told RNZ yesterday, the profiling involved even extends to “interactions” with Police, as to whether a Police decision to prosecute should simply be superseded by an INZ decision to deport the person in question. Yep, no danger there of confirming each other’s biases, surely.
The Murray interview is hair-raising, and can be heard here.
It seems that INZ has been loading data into its “harm model” for the past 18 months, on such things as unpaid hospital bills, use of healthcare or criminal activity. Thus, the demographic attributes of Person A who has been responsible for such costs in the past gets loaded into the model, and if and when another immigrant showing some of the same data characteristics ( age, gender, country of origin) comes over the horizon then bam ! ….”We’ll move to deport them at the first opportunity,” Murray says, “ so that they don’t have the chance to do that sort of harm.”
You would think that this kind of thing would breach our human rights laws. Except for the fact that our immigration system does not have to comply with the Human Rights Act in any way. I remember submitting to the review of the then Immigration Act review back in 2007, as did the Human Rights Commission. The Commission argued that immigration law shouldn’t have a Human Rights Act exemption, even though there were instances where discrimination in immigration was valid. However, the Commission argued, each case of discrimination should be able to be justified and should be transparent.
Well, s392 of the Immigration Act 2009, exempts this Act from the Human Rights Act. There can be no complaints to the Human Rights Commission nor can the Commission itself take any proceeding forward in relation to the Immigration Act. Which means that the kind of profiling that Mr Murray speaks about is entirely legal and there is no recourse through the justice system.
And just in case it isn’t clear, profiling means that the individual has done nothing wrong except match a profile that someone in Immigration New Zealand decides is a bad one. Despite the fact that many people fitting that same profile will have caused no harm and in fact will have been model citizens. I’m sure any profiling project will not factor in discriminatory practices in New Zealand that shut certain types of people out of high paying jobs, that they are less likely to be selected to positions of leadership, that they are paid less. It will not incorporate the factors which ensure that certain types of people are set up to fail, but it will punish people for the failure of others or the failure of a system with in-built discrimination.
Of course we want an immigration system that works for New Zealand. But we can have such a system without discriminating against people on the basis of ethnicity and nationality.
Tze Ming Mok has linked to the briefing given to the Minister by Immigration NZ. See her excellent Twitter thread which starts here. It seems that the profiling discriminates between men and women ie all else being equal, a woman would be deported where a man wouldn’t, based on the model. But also, apparently they assess potential victims on the basis of their cost to New Zealand. This is beyond awful.