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Anti-Fascism, USA

Migrant and Refugee Rights Campaign stands with Charlottesville anti-fascists

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The Migrant and Refugee Rights Campaign stands in solidarity with those who opposed fascism in Charlottesville USA, and those grieving Heather Heyer, the counter-protester who was killed.

“The killing in Charlottesville is appalling,” says Gayaal Iddamalgoda, spokesperson for the campaign. “We stand with those fighting fascism, in the USA and elsewhere.”

“Thankfully, the Neo-Nazi movement in New Zealand is marginal. However, we must be on guard in an international situation where racist populism is surging.”

“Xenophobic scapegoating has an unfortunate foothold in New Zealand electoral politics, and we oppose all attempts to blame social minorities for political and economic problems. Mainstream racism plants the seeds that fascism grows from, as we are seeing in the UK and USA.”

Housing crisis, National Party

Racist obfuscation of the slumlord problem

slumlords

Tertiary Education Minister Paul Goldsmith’s comment about Indians owning multiple properties is a racist obfuscation of the slumlord problem, says Migrant and Refugee Rights Campaign spokesperson Gayaal Iddamalgoda. Goldsmith made the comment in response to 25-year old Thomas Maharaj, who correctly pointed out that many National MPs own multiple properties.

“Goldsmith’s comment is not only racist, it also evades the real issues driving the housing crisis,” says Gayaal.

“According to information released in late 2016, 80 of our 121 MPs have an interest in more than one property,” Gayaal continues. “The three MPs who own the most property are in the National Party, and 2 out of 3 are European-descended, yet no MP stereotypes Europeans as the cause of the housing crisis.”

“Young students like Maharaj aren’t likely to own property – in fact Goldsmith is a much likelier face of the slumlord problem in this country, as a European-descended National Party MP in his 40s.”

“This continues an alarming trend where the causes of the housing crisis are racialised, whether by blaming Chinese or Indian buyers.”

“If we’re serious about addressing the problem, we need to understand it’s a problem caused by slumlords and other profiteers – regardless of their surnames or the colour of their skin.”

ACT Party, Pasifika, Recognised Seasonal Employer Scheme

ACT immigration policy shows racist double-standards

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ACT’s policy of free movement/trade between Anglosphere countries – Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom – shows a racist double standard, says Migrant and Refugee Rights Campaign spokesperson Gayaal Iddamalgoda.

“ACT claims to be the most consistently pro-migrant party, yet this policy lays bare that they will not address the actual barriers to free movement in our world today,” says Gayaal. “Migrants from the Anglosphere already experience far fewer barriers than those from the Global South.”

“Instead of pursuing regional partnership with our Pacific neighbours, ACT seeks to cement partnership of the rich nations against poor nations.”

“The Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme already discriminates against our Pacific neighbours, by holding the threat of deportation over workers, and allowing employers to control employees’ living situations, a power inequality which has opened the door to abuse,” adds Gayaal. “ACT’s proposed policy will not address these actual barriers for migrant workers, allowing the abuse of Pasi workers to continue.”

“Migration policy is one area where racist double-standards persist. ACT also wants to introduce a ‘values test’, an assimilationist policy borrowed from other Anglosphere countries. Actually, we must question our own values, not the values of people seeking a better life for themselves and their families.”

“The Migrant and Refugee Rights Campaign supports open borders to the Pacific, as a step towards a world with free movement for all workers.”

“Aotearoa/New Zealand must act as a Pacific nation, not a colonial vassal.”

ACT’s immigration policy also seeks to trim “overly generous entitlements” like pensions for those with only ten years’ residency, a policy which MARRC considers an unacceptable encroachment on NZ’s only remaining universal welfare entitlement.

Labour Party

Labour MP Chris Hipkins publicly disagrees with Labour immigration policy

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At a public meeting held in Rimutaka’s Walter Nash Stadium, Labour MP Chris Hipkins publicly disagreed with Labour’s policy of cutting international student visas, when asked by a member of the Migrant and Refugee Rights Campaign. Chris Hipkins is the first Labour MP to publicly disagree with the policy.

“We congratulate Hipkins on taking this stance,” says campaign spokesperson Gayaal Iddamalgoda.

“The more people who stand up against racist policies the better,” continues Gayaal. “That’s how we can create positive change.”

At the same meeting, ACT candidate Grae O’Sullivan disagreed with MARRC’s policy of a Living Wage for migrant workers, while Green candidate Stefan Grand-Meyer endorsed the policy.

The Migrant and Refugee Rights Campaign will be holding a Wellington Central candidates forum on Saturday the 26th of August, 6pm at 19 Tory St.

Labour Party

Labour leadership crisis shows failure of vision

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May Day rally for Migrant/Refugee Rights (photograph by Aaron O’Neill).

Andrew Little’s late resignation from the Labour Party leadership shows a failure of political vision, says Migrant and Refugee Rights Campaign spokesperson Gayaal Iddamalgoda.

“Labour has attempted to drum up support through populist scapegoating,” says Gayaal, “But this tactic has not paid off in the polls.”

“The reality is that Winston Peters has monopolised the anti-migrant vote, nobody does it better than him.”

Gayaal highlights the results of an Ipsos poll which shows that a significant minority (over 40%) accurately view migrants as a net economic benefit. “Left parties should seek to represent New Zealanders who want genuine social-economic change, rather than lazy scapegoating.”

“Blaming migrants is both unprincipled and ineffectual.”

“We must tackle the real challenges including lack of investment in public infrastructure and rank profiteering. Anti-migrant scapegoating distracts from these issues.”

Labour Party

Time for a breather from xenophobic scapegoating

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Photo by Heleyni: Gayaal (second from left) attends an election debate hosted by the VUW Politics Society.

Labour’s call for a ‘breather on immigration’ obscures the real causes of strained infrastructure, says Migrant and Refugee Rights Campaign spokesperson Gayaal Iddamalgoda.

“Labour blames immigration for the strain on infrastructure,” says Gayaal. “But most of Auckland’s population growth is natural increase – meaning people giving birth.”

“Labour proposes cutting student visas, yet students are unlikely to buy houses or use motorways.”

“The housing crisis is a product of profiteering, and congestion is a product of underinvestment in public transport. They have local causes. Neither can be addressed by blocking free movement.”

“A breather from xenophobic scapegoating might help us address the real causes of strained infrastructure.”

Gayaal for Wellington Central, Green Party, Migrant and Refugee Rights, World Refugee Day

World Refugee Day: Economic migrants just as legitimate as refugees

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Today on World Refugee Day, the Greens have released a policy to double the quota twice, with a target of 5,000 refugees. The Migrant and Refugee Rights Campaign (MARRC) welcome this policy, but say that economic migrants must also be welcomed.

“It’s not enough to welcome refugees on one hand, and scapegoat economic migrants on the other,” says trade unionist and Wellington Central candidate Gayaal Iddamalgoda. “We call on the Greens to reject James Shaw’s policy of a 1% on immigration, which was not even democratically decided by the party.”

“Labour’s call to cut 10s of 1000s of immigrants, while increasing the refugee quota, is even worse in giving with one hand and taking with the other.”

Gayaal continues that playing ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ refugees and migrants against each other is a divide and rule tactic. “Divide and rule tactics just aid the race to the bottom; whether dividing ‘local’ and migrant workers, or refugees and migrant workers.”

Along with increasing the quota, MARRC demands full rights for all migrants. “What’s best for migrant workers is best for everyone; high-quality affordable housing, a Living Wage, and the right to organise with other workers for improved conditions. These policies benefit the majority, regardless of origin.”