PHOTO: Prasad Babu and the home he and 40 migrants live in. NEWSHUB
A significant criminal investigation is currently in progress following the discovery of numerous migrants crammed into an unsanitary three-bedroom residence in the southern region of Auckland.
According to allegations, these individuals paid substantial sums to local recruitment contractors in exchange for employment agreements. However, upon their arrival, they have not received any work opportunities or compensation.
On a Sunday night, after running out of food and resorting to begging, the men contacted the police. Around forty men had been residing in the cramped and filthy three-bedroom house in Auckland for an extended period. They shared a single shower and cooked using a solitary stove.
“We’ve gone three days without any food, surviving solely on water. No sustenance, just water. There’s been no food, sir. We’re merely drinking water,” stated Prasad Babu, an Indian migrant.
Newshub visited the Papakura property on that Sunday night and found numerous migrants gathered on the street, having reached out to the local police for assistance.
This situation is their last resort. They claim to have paid substantial amounts, tens of thousands of dollars each, for job opportunities and had signed contracts with recruitment contractors in New Zealand, only to not find any employment or income.
“You took $20,000 from each of us promising jobs and a better life here. But where’s that better life? It’s non-existent,” Babu lamented.
Rather than an improved life, they are left begging for their survival.
“We’re resorting to seeking food at temples. I’m a Christian, but I’m even going to an Indo Temple because I need food.”
These individuals had arrived in New Zealand through the accredited employer work visa scheme. However, instead of gaining employment, they find themselves struggling to meet basic needs. And this is not an isolated case.
“We’ve been enduring this for three months. We haven’t been able to send even a single dollar back to our families and children. How are they supposed to eat?” Babu questioned.
Mandeep Bela, the President of the Union Network of Migrants, guided Newshub through the property that Sunday night. Porta potties were being used for sleeping space, suitcases cluttered the living area which also served as a laundry, small back rooms were filled with mattresses, and some individuals even resorted to sleeping in the garage.
“In terms of work visa schemes – scam schemes – this situation is on a whole different level,” Bela remarked.
Immigration New Zealand has initiated a significant investigation into alleged visa fraud and the exploitation of migrants, both of which are serious criminal offenses.
Once the investigation concludes, and if the charges are proven, those responsible will face prosecution and severe consequences, as affirmed by Steve Watson, the General Manager of Immigration Compliance and Investigations.
As for the extent of similar scenes, the Ministry admits that it remains uncertain.
“Um, this troubles me in terms of the system’s credibility being questioned. Many employers and individuals come to this country and have positive experiences. Unfortunately, I don’t believe these individuals share that sentiment,” Watson expressed.
However, Immigration Minister Andrew Little is hesitant to halt the accredited employer scheme, despite the grim reality for an unknown number of migrants.
“We have approximately 27,000 accredited employers, with around 77,000 workers in New Zealand under visas from that scheme. The majority are functioning well,” he asserted.
Nonetheless, the harsh reality persists for an undisclosed number of people.
“You assured us that we would have a better life in New Zealand, that we could settle with our families here, that our children would receive a good education here. But where is all of that? Like this? Everyone sleeping like this?” Babu lamented.
What was promised to them as a dream has turned out to be a deception.