SA’s lead­ing im­mi­gra­tion lawyer says of­fi­cials need more train­ing

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - SPORT - Joseph Booy­sen

CAPE Town-based lawyer Gary Eisen­berg has done it again.

The out­spo­ken lawyer was re­cently recog­nised as South Africa’s best im­mi­gra­tion lawyer for the eighth con­sec­u­tive year by Best Lawyers, the long­est-stand­ing global peer-re­view pub­li­ca­tion in the le­gal field.

Eisen­berg has been an at­tor­ney since 1996 after be­ing ad­mit­ted to the Cape High Court.

“Im­mi­gra­tion law is not just a case of push­ing papers around.

“It’s a sys­tem of leg­is­la­tion within a con­sti­tu­tional con­text and my field of ex­per­tise is administra­tive and con­sti­tu­tional law,” he said.

Eisen­berg’s crit­i­cism of South Africa’s im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy and its em­pha­sis on border se­cu­rity has been widely pub­lished.

He says a lack of train­ing lies at the root of the prob­lem among im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cials.

“You get the sense that im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cials are threat­ened by their own lack of knowl­edge and train­ing.

“They are em­pow­ered to make im­por­tant de­ci­sions af­fect­ing peo­ple’s lives, but don’t like at­tor­neys be­ing present.

“The state was once very re­cep­tive to in­sights and con­sul­ta­tion from pro­fes­sion­als.

“I worked with then-min­is­ter of home af­fairs Prince Man­go­suthu Buthelezi on the draft of the Im­mi­gra­tion Act in the early 2000s,” said Eisen­berg.

He added that cur­rently, how­ever, of­fi­cials don’t wel­come con­sul­ta­tion into what they be­lieve to be in­ter­nal and pro­pri­etary pro­cesses.

“Home Af­fairs has been fully in­te­grated into the se­cu­rity clus­ter.

“The pub­lic ad­min­is­tra­tion’s marginal­i­sa­tion of con­sti­tu­tional val­ues has played a ma­jor role in the degra­da­tion of our democ­racy and made ‘state cap­ture’ pos­si­ble.

“The fail­ure to ad­e­quately train bu­reau­crats in the val­ues and prin­ci­ples of con­sti­tu­tional gov­er­nance re­mains an is­sue of grave im­por­tance,” he said.

He also said that South Africa had be­come an in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar travel and im­mi­gra­tion des­ti­na­tion since 1997, and the need for a law firm that of­fers cit­i­zen­ship and im­mi­gra­tion ser­vices within the dis­ci­plines of administra­tive and con­sti­tu­tional law can­not be un­der­es­ti­mated.

Eisen­berg is a re­spected pro­fes­sional in his field who is well-known for his out­spo­ken­ness and has fre­quently taken the Depart­ment of Home Af­fairs to court, chal­leng­ing the law­ful­ness of its poli­cies, de­ci­sions and leg­is­la­tion.

He has prac­tised ex­clu­sively in the field of South Africa’s im­mi­gra­tion and cit­i­zen­ship law and has es­tab­lished an out­stand­ing rep­u­ta­tion for his cre­ative and stead­fast ap­proach to com­plex im­mi­gra­tion prob­lems.

He has also re­ceived recog­ni­tion for his pro­tracted lit­i­ga­tion in the pub­lic in­ter­est on the democrati­sa­tion of South Africa’s im­mi­gra­tion reg­u­la­tion-mak­ing process.

His pro­fes­sion be­gan with in­ter­na­tional trade reg­u­la­tion and multi­na­tional le­gal com­pli­ance.

He has pub­lished numer­ous re­search papers fo­cus­ing on the af­ter­math of South Africa’s lib­er­a­tion since 1994.

joseph.booy­[email protected]

Gary Eisen­berg

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