Migrant and Refugee Rights, Mythbusters

Myths about migrants and refugees


Myth #1: Migrants and refugees are a drain on the economy.

Reality: Migrants are a net economic benefit to the economy, both in terms of GDP and taxes paid.

Myth #2: Migrants drive up house prices/drive New Zealanders out of their homes.

Reality: The housing boom is driven both by profiteering, and population growth.

However, the bulk of Auckland’s population growth is ‘natural increase’, i.e. people giving birth.

Increasing house prices benefit landlords, speculators and other profiteers – whether locally or internationally based.

There is no reason that housing infrastructure must be a zero-sum game. MARRC calls for a universal right to high-quality, low-rent, sustainable urban housing.

Myth #3: Migrants drive down wages, and must therefore be kept out.

Reality: There is of course a real problem with cheap migrant labour. But it’s nothing to do with “New Zealanders being priced out of low-waged jobs”. Firstly, just like it’s always been in this country, migrants tend to do the low-status jobs that New Zealanders don’t want to do – fast food workers or security guards, who might be qualified professionals in their own country, can tell you about that. Secondly, the reason migrant labour is cheap is because of employers cheating the system. We’re talking about migrants having their passports confiscated, and forced either into virtual slave labour, or work of a kind they never wanted to do.

These are real problems. But they are not problems caused by migration. It is caused by migrant workers not getting a fair shake on the basis as all other workers in this country. Get rid of the incentive for human trafficking provided by the current immigration scheme – by giving all those who want to work here the legal right to do so, cracking down on unfair labour practices, and encouraging migrant workers to join unions and fight alongside all other workers for their rights.

Myth #4: Refugees are a potential terror threat.

Reality: Refugees from war-torn areas of the world are fleeing from terror, whether state-sponsored or otherwise.

In Europe and the USA, terror attacks are largely carried out by citizens or passport-holders. Far-right white supremacists account for a large amount of terror attacks. Even attacks by Islamists are not carried out by refugees: to give a prominent example, the people who carried out the 9/11 attacks were not refugees.

Furthermore, in Aotearoa/New Zealand, neither Islamists nor refugees have ever carried out terror attacks.

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