Anger over mate leaving
A group of Hutt Valley students are frustrated and looking for answers over why their mate had to leave the country.
Fifteen-year-old Matt Hourigan was a classmate and friend of Eric Jensen. Earlier this year, the Jensen family, owner of Lower Hutt’s Java Point Cafe, had their residency application rejected after they failed to meet the requirements of their entrepreneur visa. They left the country in July to go back to America.
Matt, a Year 11 student at Hutt International Boys’ School (HIBS), got to know Eric when he started at the school in Year 9, two years ago.
For Matt, it didn’t make sense that the Jensens’ residency application was rejected.
‘‘Everyone was in shock. [The Jensens] were heavily involved in church, every year they were making money with their cafe.’’ ‘‘No one had a bad word to say about [Eric].’’ Matt and his school mates had questions about the family’s situation and turned to National list MP Chris Bishop, an old boy of HIBS, for answers.
Half a dozen HIBS students, including Matt, stopped by Bishop’s office last week with a list of questions. They also asked whether Bishop pushed hard enough to keep the family in the country, why American billionaire Peter Thiel was granted citizenship in 2011 and why the Jensens’ cafe was not considered an established business.
‘‘[Bishop] stepped in, but it was too little too late. He hasn’t done enough,’’ Matt said.
He was frustrated over an immigration system that saw a well-established family forced to leave. ‘‘The system doesn’t seem to be working.’’ Matt said Bishop had helped answer what he could, but ‘‘he couldn’t tell us a lot about why [the Jensens] had to leave’’.
He also wanted to talk to associate minister of immigration Scott Simpson but hadn’t been able to reach him. He believed Simpson hadn’t considered the family’s case properly.
Bishop said he had a ‘‘good chat’’ with the students when they came in, talking through the processes of immigration law and the entrepreneur visa the Jensens had been on.
‘‘They’re pretty gutted for their mate, but I’m pretty gutted as well.’’
He had reassured them he fought hard for the Jensens, including making a personal appeal to the minister of immigration’s office.
Earlier this year, Stuff reported Bishop helped get Simpson to expedite the decision on the Jensens’ residency application. At the time, Steve Jensen had said Bishop ‘‘fought like a pitbull’’ to keep his family in the country.