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immigration profiling

Written By: - Date published: 8:00 am, April 10th, 2018 - 43 comments
Categories: human rights, immigration, law, racism - Tags:

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involved even extends to “interactions” with Police, as to whether a Police decision to prosecute should simply be superseded by an INZ decision to deport the person in question.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.

UPDATE:

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.

(Photo from here)

43 comments on “immigration profiling ”

  1. dukeofurl 1

    This seems to be recurrent claim
    “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.”

    The only reason immigration would be interested in these circumstances is that they are in the country illegally. Which of course doenst mean they have done any thing wrong at all. By definition they are ‘illegal’

    It seems RNZ who made a huge blunder in their online story by saying ‘immigrants’ which they later corrected to ‘overstayer’ ( without comment) has led to a widespread belief that the people of interest to INZ were of course the many hundreds of thousands of migrants who are here legally and of course going about their everyday lives.

    • Chris T 1.1

      I noticed that as well

      I find the whole thing a bit hype

      They are here illegally and profiling is used all the time without anyone batting an eyelid, and they weren’t even using ethnicity

      I don’t see anyone up in arms over how insurance companies decide their premiums for certain peoples likelihood of a claim.

      It isn’t an accident you are more likely to be searched at the boarder if you are young and coming back from a couple of days in Asia, than if you are a family of 4 back from a week in Fiji.

      • Carolyn_Nth 1.1.1

        The problem is that they are using this sort of profiling for anything. It looks a lot like Bill English’s social investment strategy.

        And how will this impact on the decision-making of immigration officials when they make judgments on others who apply to immigrate here?

        Surely people should be able to appeal the initial decisions by people who have arrived in NZ without the required visas, etc?

        And that’s where the whole system SHOULD be subject to the Human Rights ACT

        • dukeofurl 1.1.1.1

          Overstayers means they have had the required visas which have expired – most have a time limit, eg holiday visas, work visas etc.

          Yes thay can appeal, and Immigration has very wide discretion to give what is called a S61 visa to regularise their situation.
          http://communitylaw.org.nz/community-law-manual/chapter-32-immigration-and-refugees/if-youre-here-illegally-understanding-your-options-chapter-32/

          This gives more detail, but emphasize that its has to be out of the ordinary to get one.

          The HRC themselves make clear why Immigration restrictions arent covered by Human Rights Act
          “The reason for this is found in subsection (3) where it recognizes that “immigration matters inherently involve different treatment on the basis of personal characteristics” (such as health, age, national origin).

          https://www.hrc.co.nz/enquiries-and-complaints/faqs/immigration-and-human-rights/

          • stargazer 1.1.1.1.1

            yes, i actually mention in the post that HRC agree that there are legitimate reasons for discrimination. but their position also was that INZ should be transparent about those reasons and justify them, rather than having a blanket exemption from the Human Rights Act. and definitely, profiling on the basis that victims cost more is not at all acceptable to me – even if they are dealing with overstayers. in terms of victims of NZ citizens & residents, surely they should be taking into account the fact that perpetrators withhold passports and use immigration status to coerce and abuse, rather than profiling those victims for deportation.

            and that’s just one of the problems with using this kind of profiling system.

            • dukeofurl 1.1.1.1.1.1

              You didnt point out, but I did, that S61 visas can be used in those sort of extreme cases.
              And how are they going to find out people are being held against their will in the first place ?
              Wait for tipoffs ? or would it be a good idea to prioritise people who they think are overstayers but against their own will.

              Doing nothing doesnt help this small group who may be in indentured labour or sex work.

              • stargazer

                and yet they do find out – when they do raids of restaurants that use these tactics against migrant workers; when women present to the police and various other measures. deporting people who are victims does nothing to solve the problem, is hugely unfair and just means that the perpetrators are left to carry on with a new set of victims. they actually should be using resources to work with police & the justice system to stop victimisation. simple removal of victims is a cop-out and a punishment of vulnerable people because that is the easiest and cheapest thing to do.

                • dukeofurl

                  You are ignoring the wide discretion for a S61 visa for those who are real victims.

                  Of course most removed just havent bothered with the ‘legalities’

                  As for the claim the perpetrators are left to carry on, theres no evidence of that .But this shows the contrary.
                  http://www.newshub.co.nz/home/new-zealand/2018/02/auckland-construction-site-sweep-uncovers-190-illegal-malaysian-workers.html

                  The Kingpin as they called it has been arrested

                  • stargazer

                    in which case they wouldn’t need a data-modelling system that pre-emptively targets victims of harm – which is what the briefing to the minister specifically states that this project would do. your assertion that most “haven’t bothered with the legalities” is pure assumption. i’m well aware of the illegal malaysian workers case, which is why i mentioned raiding employers. if they do the raids, then they don’t need to do the profiling and target people that may or may not at some future times be victims through a data-modelling system.

                    • dukeofurl

                      As for evidence of those deported just ““haven’t bothered with the legalities”
                      There is the community law circumstances where you have a good chance of a S61 waiver , and what does it cover ?

                      “your current situation – including why you need to stay in New Zealand, how long you’ve already been here unlawfully, why you don’t have a current visa, what efforts you’ve made to try to get one, and whether your unlawful status is because of something outside your control”
                      and
                      “you haven’t deliberately attempted to stay here unlawfully for a long time.”

                      http://communitylaw.org.nz/community-law-manual/chapter-32-immigration-and-refugees/if-youre-here-illegally-understanding-your-options-chapter-32/

                      Clearly those who havent bothered with the legalities are exactly those who dont get S61 visas to regularise their situation. Result is then deportation

      • Michelle 1.1.2

        You are almost more likely to be checked if you are brown chris t and might I add also pulled over by our police have you experienced this ?

        • Chris T 1.1.2.1

          Nope

          I have been pulled over by the police a few times and am not Maori though.

          I think it was more I was young and was driving a V8

          And been searched on my way back from Bangkok.

          But you could probably swap the V8 there with not having shaved for a week and wearing a crappy old T-Shirt

          • Michelle 1.1.2.1.1

            yes chris t but have you been pulled over and then they (the police) had to make up an excuse because they pulled you over for nothing and might I add they did u turn to pull you over

        • dukeofurl 1.1.2.2

          Brown ?
          As the largest numbers here illegally are from The pacific should they have a quota of those removed to match the numbers
          For every 5 pacific islanders , we must deport 4 from china, 3 from India and 2 from Europe?
          That system would be absurd, and yet would pass the ‘non discrimination test.’

          For good reasons we have a ‘brown only ‘ category of pacific island seasonal workers ( around 11000 pa) and for good reasons we have a Samoa only category of work visas ( outside the current system).

          • stargazer 1.1.2.2.1

            the quota is there for foreign policy reasons, and part of the pacific aid programme. you are getting into nonsense territory with this comment.

            • dukeofurl 1.1.2.2.1.1

              I said its for good reasons , multiple times

              Try reading what I said, rather than dismissing it as nonsense

              • weka

                You said “For good reasons we have a ‘brown only ‘ category of pacific island seasonal workers”.

                Stargazer said that’s a foreign policy issue, part of the pacific aid programme (in other words, certain nations are treated specifically by NZ) . You appear to be saying it’s because those people are brown. Can you clarify what you meant?

                (btw, the comment you replied to appeared to be pointing out that the NZ police will stop Māori and PI people because they are brown. That’s not controversial, and it’s a problem that the police do that simply on the basis of perceived ethnicity).

                • dukeofurl

                  The ‘brown’ was only shorthand that had been used earlier for pacific people.

                  As for NZ police its outrageous that pacific and maori people are discriminated against.
                  But is this connected to immigration from many countries and the millions of people on visitor visas?

    • Matthew Whitehead 1.2

      Using illegal profiling methods against people in the country illegally is still itself illegal, dukeofurl.

      INZ notes only that its discrimination can be legal as per their carveout, if well-justified for immigration policy reasons based on sound policy. That is not the same thing as definitely being legal. They provide no such basis for profiling on country of origin, (which they admit to having withheld data on in this release, so it may still be in the original model) age, or sex, so all these factors should be assumed to be discriminatory until proven otherwise, and are likely to be found so in court if challenged.

      There is also reference to people’s current visa type, and given people who are overstaying do not have visas, this suggests that the tool is actually used for more than just overstayers, which is a definite problem, and does reinforce the initial perception that they are in fact profiling all immigrants, not just people who are overstaying after their visa has expired.

      • dukeofurl 1.2.1

        I get your intial point about the carve out.

        But dont you think you are then relying ‘perceptions’ that they are profiling all immigrants. ( With an excel spreadsheet?)

        IRD ‘profiles all taxpayers’ to target groups that may be involved in tax fraud.

        ie those with cash payments
        http://www.pkffa.co.nz/news/news/ird-targets-undeclared-cash-by-dale-adamson/

        One of those groups involved in tax fraud is also targeted for immigration fraud, restaurants.

        Is that not a good thing.

        I had a heat pump installed by 2 guys from eastern europe, I presume that were on work visas as they were working as electricians for a reputable company.
        Sometimes people on visas from eastern europe are involved in credit card fraud and ATM skimming.
        The correct paperwork would mean ( should mean) they would move onto others who arent.

    • weka 1.3

      “It seems RNZ who made a huge blunder in their online story by saying ‘immigrants’ which they later corrected to ‘overstayer’ ( without comment) has led to a widespread belief that the people of interest to INZ were of course the many hundreds of thousands of migrants who are here legally and of course going about their everyday lives.”

      Can you please link to the piece you are referring to?

      • dukeofurl 1.3.1

        Sure . Thats they very annoying thing about the RNZ story, the made a huge blunder and didnt say so when it was corrected. So its pretty hard to link to a un changed version. Cant impinge on the ‘journalist infallibility.’, no sirree

        But this blog covers the change in detail
        https://www.statschat.org.nz/2018/04/05/15641/

        “[update: Radio NZ have now changed the first word of the story from “Immigrants” to “Overstayers”. ]

  2. Carolyn_Nth 2

    Thanks, stargazer.

    I’m glad the government has suspended this pilot. But it also should be ditched altogether.

    Tze Ming Mok’s twitter thread says the

    As there is no key to the variable values, I have no idea whether they are discriminating against men (assumed to be more violent?) or women (have babies that drain the health system?). 12/

    But she points out, as does the briefing notes, that the profiling system isn’t an adequate method to identify who should be deported. It’s meant to be some sort of guide to the humans who DO make the final decisions.

    The cut off points for whether an immigrant is considered a high risk or low risk on certain categories, is arbitrary.

    • dukeofurl 2.1

      The immigration system has arbitrary cutoffs all the time

      Age ? Yes at some point older people are cut off

      Qualifications? many qualifications are more important than others, some jobs are favoured over others.

      Money , yes that too is arbitary, too much money is always good.

      Ethnic origin, that too has special quotas for some countries. Other countries have no restrictions at all , ie Australia, Cook Islands

    • dukeofurl 2.2

      Women who are on a visa and either pregnant when they arrive and do so after wards have these restrictions
      https://www.immigration.govt.nz/new-zealand-visas/apply-for-a-visa/tools-and-information/general-information/pregnant-applicants

      Clearly its mostly men who would be involved in violence so an arrest and conviction could mean deportation or visa cancelled.

      • stargazer 2.2.1

        i’m actually trying to get support for someone advocating for a situation where 2 people from the same country applied for holiday visas, both similar age & very similar financial situation. the male got through, the female was denied – no pregnancy issues involved. which begs the question regarding unfair discrimination of women, and whether the profiling is symptomatic of how they are behaving across the board.

        • dukeofurl 2.2.1.1

          Apply for holiday visas ?

          They are only ‘profiling’ those who are here already and stayed beyond the limit of the visa.
          You might also know ‘national origin’ discrimination already occurs for visitor visas- a whole band of countries dont require a visitor visa application at all.

          But once you arrive, being poor, pregnant and a criminal history ( again discrimination based on personal characteristics) will still apply.

          As for women who arrive on a tourist waiver, there may be evidence they are intending to work in sex industry, but I would think actual evidence is required and not just a suspicion. They can and do search phones, paperwork, look at records back in home country.

          • stargazer 2.2.1.1.1

            perhaps read tze ming’s thread – she worked at INZ and is saying that profiling happened across the board. you”would think” that actual evidence is required in this particular case i mentioned, but none has been provided and there is no evidence that she has any such intention.

            • dukeofurl 2.2.1.1.1.1

              ‘profiling is applied across the board’

              well of course it is.
              Criminal history, being poor , medical history is a reason for exclusion before you arrive- they do collect this data. Thats often called evidence as well.
              people who are criminals have criminal history.

              And once you arrive and then stay beyond the time of the visa, then the same exclusions apply.

              Read the link I provided from the HRC where they say that personal characteristics are at the heart of what immigration do.
              https://www.hrc.co.nz/enquiries-and-complaints/faqs/immigration-and-human-rights/

              • stargazer

                and read my numerous comments that they should be justifying the discrimination and not have a blanket exemption. if they have a reasonable case for discrimination, put it up and let it be challenged.

                • dukeofurl

                  You have switched from Immigration profiling of those illegally in NZ to possible discrimination of those who havent even arrived yet ?

                  “i’m actually trying to get support for someone advocating for a situation where 2 people from the same country applied for holiday visas..”

                  A needle in a haystack considering the millions who arrive on visitor visas. And trying to parse between 2 similar but different people and not know all the background info immigration has .
                  It could well be corruption and fraud by the staff or even just high handedness.
                  http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11897599

                  We know from the details of Kim Dotcoms immigration file he shouldnt have got residency status based on his driving offences here, but he did.
                  The chips fell in his favour there, but we can assume that other factors were working there, plus being rich means nothing is a problem.

    • dukeofurl 3.1

      Its interesting that its repeated so many times
      “This is illegal discrimination.”

      You would think that someone who has worked in Immigration but a different section -Refugee Status Branch 2001-2002) would understand just a little bit that the
      WHOLE Immigration system is intentionally discriminatory.
      eg
      Visitor visas discrimnate againt various countries which have waivers and those who dont.

      Work visas discriminate against age groups, occupation groups etc

      Health status is checked at all stages, so that those in the country on a visa are not a burden on the health system – but again theres discrimination on that with some countries with reciprocal health arrangements are not covered.

      What part of the immigration system isnt discriminatory.?

      • stargazer 3.1.1

        again, see my comment above. yes, there are sometimes valid reasons, so be transparent, don’t have a blanket exemption and allow challenge. perhaps what she has seen is actually discrimination that can’t be justified, there is no valid reason. just like the case i mentioned above. which is why she is calling it illegal – if the human rights exemption wasn’t there and the decision could be challenged, it would turn out that they don’t have decent reason that would stand up to scrutiny. you seem to be constantly ignoring this in numerous comments, and i’m getting tired of it.

        • dukeofurl 3.1.1.1

          I could see where an official is making blatantly discriminating decisions outside the policies, bureaucracies can be like that and should be subject to review.

          That would be reprehensible. But it wouldnt seem to be connected to ‘overstayers’ .
          Is there a case mentioned above, I cant find it here.
          https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/983439681848258561.html?refreshed=yes

          I believe that Tze Ming Mok would have observed discrimination that was illegal and ouside the policies. But is a bit hard to think about something 15 years ago in where the rules would have changed so much since then.

  3. Draco T Bastard 4

    But also, apparently they assess potential victims on the basis of their cost to New Zealand.

    If they’re staying here unlawfully then isn’t NZ the victim of their crimes?

    I’d say that all over-stayers need to be rounded up and thrown out. But at the same time their probably needs to be some sort of prioritisation of use of limited resources. The other option is to increase the number of people policing immigration.

  4. OnceWasTim 5

    I’m left wondering (in all of the above) whether @DukeofEarl and various others [deleted] -which will of course come with an agenda designed to preserve the status quo.
    DukeofEarl doesn’t appear to understand a number of inconsistencies that are now apparent in the initial account put forward by officials and the assurances given to the responsible Munster.
    Nor might I add, does Ad, who appears to be a cheerleader for the glorious Joyce vanity projek: MBIE (going forward)
    Except they’ve fucked themselves up.
    The question now is whether this coalition government is prepared to deal with it.
    Even DracoTBuggery surprises me .

    … but there ya go. Funny ole whurl eh?
    Actually, there’s a bigger question relating to whether or not the responsible Minister has the ***** to deal with it all.

    [please don’t speculate about the IRL identity of commenters using pseudonyms – weka]

  5. mikes 6

    “..profiling means that the individual has done nothing wrong except match a profile that someone in Immigration New Zealand decides is a bad one. ”

    They have done something wrong, they’re in this country illegally. we’re talking about illegal immigrants but the author keeps referring to them as simply immigrants. If they’re here illegally they should be kicked out, I couldn’t care less what sort of profiling they use to prioritize the order they get kicked out in.

    These are not victims, they are here illegally.

    • weka 6.1

      Are you arguing that the state should be enabled to act with institutional racism against overstayers while in the process of assessing their immigration status? Why?

      • dukeofurl 6.1.1

        Where is it happening that the state is acting outside the existing ‘discrimination policy carveouts’ when they take action on those people still in the country illegally
        ?
        is there knowledge of individual an circumstance that would confirm the claim of institutional racism ?

        A friend of mine did work for some years in a market garden, he told about one person from Samoa who the other workers referred to being an overstayer.
        This person was apparently away from work for some weeks and then returned and apparently the situation was resolved. I dont know how much of this is really true, but does seem to be a good outcome.
        To me when there are myriad rules about visas and how long they last and moving between one sort and another, when people are caught in the gaps , the system can help no matter their origin or type of work.

  6. Craig H 7

    Given limited resources i.e. the staff numbers required to actually deal with 11,000 overstayers in the manner required by legislation (a reasonably time-consuming process), what would be an acceptable way to decide which order they will be dealt with?

  7. Stuart Munro 8

    The short answer to me is to hire enough staff to process all overstayers expeditiously. Having a hundred or so running around at any given time is unavoidable in a country of this size, but over 10,000? It means our laws are not being enforced. A debate about profiling is no substitute for curtailing large scale lawbreaking. Process all of them according to existing law – those are 10,000 local jobs not going to citizens and not benefitting the country.

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