ActionSA Submits Objections to Immigration White Paper as it Seeks to Absolve Ruling Party & Government from Responsibility

ActionSA has submitted its objections to the White Paper on Citizenship, Immigration and Refugee Protection during a picket in front of the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) Headquarters in Pretoria today. While we support the need for urgent reforms to the immigration system in South Africa, we believe the White Paper seeks to absolve the ruling party from its role in South Africa’s dysfunctional border management and immigration system.

ActionSA has always maintained that South Africa was built on the back of migrants. We want the people of the world to come to South Africa, but they must do so legally. As a party which values the rule of law, ActionSA has long called for stronger measures to be taken to secure our borders while streamlining the visa processing system for tourists and skilled work seekers, amongst others.

The white paper fails to acknowledge the institutional failures of DHA, and the key constraints to the country’s immigration regime. Instead, the whitepaper is a clear electioneering tool which the ruling party will attempt to use to attract support without addressing the underlying government failures that created the immigration crisis.

The white paper also fails to adequately address skilled immigration into South Africa which could assist in growing our economy and creating jobs by attracting more people who can invest in the country, or who provide critical skills our economy desperately requires. On the one hand medical professionals and engineers, amongst others, are leaving South Africa due to the poor working conditions in public facilities and state-owned enterprises, while on the other hand the government is making it difficult for skilled workers to come to South Africa. It is the South African people and economy that suffer on both fronts.

ActionSA believes the white paper’s approach of placing the blame for the immigration crisis at the feet of the legislative framework is misplaced. Instead of repealing various legislation to create one set of legislation to address immigration, a more cost-effective approach would be to align existing legislation through amendment legislation. At a time when South Africa is facing serious fiscal challenges, money should not be spent on expensive and time-consuming legislative processes which would yield little to no results.

ActionSA believes that, without fixing and streamlining the Department, any policy proposal will fail. ActionSA has, therefore, submitted a list of proposed interventions to DHA which should be the focus of immigration reform:

  • – Use South Africa’s immigration regime to grow the economic prosperity of our people. This means:
    • – making it easier for people with skills and capital to live, work and invest in South Africa;
    • – reforming the visa regime and addressing processing challenges to make sure more people can visit South Africa easily and legally;
    • – expanding the list of countries whose residents can visit South Africa for tourism without visas;
    • – introducing and enforcing fines for employing persons without the right to work in South Africa.
  • – Address the structural deficiencies at the Department of Home Affairs to ensure better enforcement of immigration regulations.
  • – Expand the state’s capacity to support asylum seekers, refugees, and vulnerable foreign communities.
  • – Introduce e-governance processes that allow citizens and immigrants to do their business online.
  • – Improve intra-governmental cooperation to improve the management of immigration.
  • – Ensure those who enter our borders do so legally and obey the law when they are here, by:
    • – Ensuring the effective roll-out of the Border Management Authority to improve the management of South Africa’s borders.
    • – Improving collaboration between the BMA, SAPS, and SANDF to ensure our borders are adequately monitored.
    • – Implementing technological solutions to better monitor the flow of goods and people across our borders.
    • – Improving the deportation processes related to undocumented foreign nationals without a legitimate claim to residency or asylum in South Africa.
    • – Improving the deportation processes related to foreign nationals found guilty of committing crimes in South Africa.

ActionSA maintains that South Africa’s immigration challenges stem from a failed institutional framework and capacity, not solely legislation. We believe that it is possible to secure our borders and to reform our immigration regime, but that would require that South Africans take action to remove the ruling party from government in order for us to secure our borders and fix the Department of Home Affairs.