A Chinese man caught working illegally at an Auckland construction site escaped from police custody last night, hours before his controversial deportation.
Two of the 10 illegal Chinese construction workers awaiting deportation were being taken to the airport last night when one escaped, said deputy head of Immigration NZ Stephen Vaughan.
The man gave himself up and arrangements are being made to deport him again.
“One individual was deported last night as planned,” Vaughan said.
The other men are being held in Mt Eden Prison until dates are set for their flights out of the country.
The lawyer representing the migrants, Matt Robson, said the workers were victims of human trafficking and paid substantial sums to a third party, who arranged travel and work.
Migrant Workers Association president Anu Kaloti said the men should not be deported.
“I’m very confident that both workers can be extremely helpful in the investigation to expose the exploiting employers.
“People don’t just bump into work and start working – they have been provided work by the employers.
“The culprits here are the exploiting employers, not the Chinese workers themselves.”
New Zealand had “systemic, wide-spread” immigrant labour exploitation issues, Kaloti said.
“The minimum that this government can do is stop the practice of catching reserves of migrant workers to employers because that is bondage, that is akin to modern slavery.”
Green MP Ricardo Menendez-March has called for the deportations to be paused to allow an investigation into the claims of migrant exploitation and human trafficking.
However, Minister of Immigration Kris Faafoi said he had been assured the proper processes were followed and Immigration NZ had not found any evidence of trafficking.
“Agencies are satisfied further investigations around employment and immigration breaches can be carried out without the need for the men to remain in New Zealand,” Faafoi said.