New legal clinic for migrants
A free legal clinic to help migrants and refugees has been swamped in the six weeks since it opened in central Christchurch.
The clinic is an initiative of the Canterbury Business Association (CBA) with law intern volunteers from the University of Canterbury School of Business and Law.
CBA founder and chief executive Taz Mukorombindo said the concept was inspired by major and complex challenges encountered by migrants trying to chart new waters in an alien culture.
‘‘There are frequent reports of unscrupulous tactics by cowboys from offshore,’’ he said. ’’Stranded migrants have found they have been ripped off along the way by these cowboys who inform them they will have a wonderful life here, but neglect to tell them about the challenges of settlement and getting status. It’s a racket.’’
The clinic, taken by law interns Louise Mei and Sam Chidgey, was already on its ninth case. One case involved newcomers caught between immigration, Child Youth and Family and a ministerial request to reconsider their status.
Already, the clinic had managed to work with immigration to lift a deportation order and secure legal aid to help the couple through the Family Court. It was now working on renewing the husband’s work visa pending the ministerial review.
‘‘The average Kiwi would find it absolutely perplexing if the situation was reversed,’’ Mukorombindo said. ’’This couple tried to get help for an entire year and managed to secure support only after we set up this clinic.’’
The goal was to resolve cases and carry them through to a hearing if required, provide representation and liaise, if necessary, with immigration. The clinic is now engaged in advocacy around immigration law changes to come into effect in July. Mukorombindo said some positives had emerged from the new legislation, including opening the pathway to residency for Filipinos who came for the rebuild on renewable visas.
‘‘With increasing numbers of students from India, it may be time to look at their situations more closely,’’ he said. ‘‘By profiling more certain pathways for people before they come, they should know whether they can stay permanently or simply come and go as a student.’’
The clinic can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org or call 027 273 8815.
Canterbury Business Association ceo Taz Mukorombindo with law intern Louise Mei.