Unscrupulous immigration agents can taint an entire profession
They are not us
As immigration lawyers, our clients often tell us of immigration and visa horror stories where they, or someone they know, have been left high and dry by unscrupulous immigration agents.
And we read reports in the media of immigration agents being charged with fraud. But these agents and others in the legal profession are not representative.
Every time, I hear or read such reports of unprincipled behaviour by immigration agents, my heart goes out to the victims. This is because, like many others in our community, I also arrived in New Zealand as a migrant. I came to New Zealand to pursue my dreams and raise my family.
Here to help NZ migrants
Like the majority of people in the legal profession and immigration business, I believe in carrying out my work with honesty, accountability and transparency. I, like many others, derive satisfaction in seeing someone smile, in knowing that I have been able to stabilise the job and status of a person so that they can also follow their dream, just as I did.
However, moral compasses between people differ.
The questions that arise are:
What is my intention in taking a certain action?
What is the motivating factor?
Am I doing the right thing by looking after my interest alone?
What if the other person is victimised by my actions?
What emerges would depend on a person’s mindset; whether they are motivated by self-interest and are out to benefit themselves or they are there to serve and assist their clients.
Are we not part of a whole, interconnected community? One’s action is not in isolation and every action has an effect on someone, somewhere, somehow.
Constant introspection is important when working in immigration. This is because an immigration adviser, immigration agent or an immigration lawyer may be dealing with a person or a family who are vulnerable and desperate. Clients may be pushed so far that they borrow money from any possible source to pay an immigration adviser or lawyer.
Immigration agents under pressure
Immigration agents, lawyers and advisors may feel pressured, and also be willing, to help their clients achieve their objectives at any cost. A conflict of interest can easily arise: should the ends justify the means or the means justify the end?
Constant self-vigilance is required because one slip can have disastrous consequences on a person or an entire family.
Recent cases of ghost agents, lawyers and licensed immigration advisors who have been struck off the official registers and who have had their practising certificates cancelled should make all of us be more aware of the importance of honesty and truth.
Making a difference
Our profession can be soul-satisfying, as we provide a rescue mission. We are also instrumental in making that migration journey easier and assisting many with settling into their new country. What keeps us going is the positive difference that we make in the lives of people.
It is the unethical actions of a few that bring disrepute to the immigration profession, creating the wrong perception about our bona fides.
But preying on the vulnerable cannot give a good sleep: that is always my measure!