DA wants illegal immigrants to be granted amnesty and time to regularise their stay

DA wants illegal immigrants to be granted amnesty and time to regularise their stay

The DA’s head of policy, Gwen Ngwenya, insists the party’s proposal for an amnesty period for migrants is vital because of the “dysfunction” caused by the Department of Home Affairs.

Concerns over the country’s migration system have pitted ActionSA leader Herman Mashaba against his former party, the DA.

The DA released a policy proposal on migration last week, which the party will file as a private member’s bill in Parliament.

The migration document includes a string of proposals, which the political party hopes will help deal with the country’s migration crisis.

A crucial part of the document is providing amnesty to migrants who are yet to receive their verified status from home affairs.

The amnesty period will allow foreigners to apply for legal status, without facing the consequences of a penalty or rejection in their application, Ngwenya told News24 on Monday.

Ngwenya said one of the reasons the country had many undocumented people was because the home affairs department was slow at processing applications.

She said because of this, the department turned people into criminals.

Ngwenya said:

The current dysfunction and corruption at home affairs criminalise foreigners because it is turning people, who would want to comply with the law, into criminals. The reason why an amnesty period is needed is because the dysfunction at home affairs has removed our ability to distinguish who is a criminal and who is not.

She explained that people would be free to apply for legal status during a set period – without facing penalties.

Mashaba, who has long criticised the government on undocumented migrants, said the DA’s stance does not consider South Africa’s unemployment crisis.

Mashaba said the country had to deal decisively with the issue.

“For the DA to ask for amnesty, when we have problems of our own as a country, is uncalled for. They should be holding the ANC accountable. No one can question that we are sitting with a massive immigration crisis in this country. No one can deny that. The DA, as the official opposition, must hold the ANC accountable and ensure that the country’s sovereignty is protected.

“Now they ignore all this and tell us about amnesty of illegal migrants. It makes me very angry with them. It seems the DA is determined to not have poor people as part of their agenda. They are intensifying their resolve not to care about poor South Africans,” Mashaba said.

Points-based migration system

A section of the DA’s migration document proposes a points-based system. This would see migrants, who apply to stay in the country, be scored according to their skills, education and other criteria.

Points-based migration systems have been used worldwide, but critics say it offers a window for discrimination and is likely to benefit the rich and those with access.

In defence of the points-based system, Ngwenya said there existed no migration policy without an element of discrimination.

However, she said the benefit of such a system was the criteria used could be designed to suit the country, eliminating the likelihood of bias.

“Any migration system is going to be discriminatory, based on the fact that you are choosing between people who meet certain criteria and those who don’t. The only way to not have a discriminatory system is to say there are no criteria and everyone is allowed.

“A points-based migration system is far less discriminatory than the current system, which is much narrower,” she said. News24

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