Teens an­gry as mate forced to leave coun­try

Upper Hutt Leader - - FRONT PAGE - ELEANOR WENMAN

‘‘Ev­ery­one was in shock. [The Jensens] were heav­ily in­volved in church, ev­ery year they were mak­ing money with their cafe.’’

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 from Oc­to­ber 2017 to July 2017.

At the time, Steve Jensen had said Bishop ‘‘fought like a pit­bull’’ to keep his fam­ily in the coun­try.

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