Hotspot for illegal overstayers
Waikato is a hotspot for illegal overstayers, with new statistics putting the region second only to Auckland City for the number being caught here.
Authorities have apprehended 317 people in the Waikato region since 2011 who were here illegally - more than the rest of the country except Auckland combined - Business, Innovation and Employment Ministry data shows.
The data, released under the Official Information Act, also shows where the illegal overstayers originated from, with the most common nationality since 2011 Samoan (216); Chinese (212); Tongan (185) and Indian (160).
Of 1480 caught nationally in that period, 1286 were deported, 124 were not due to a court decision or an appeal, 69 obtained a visa, and one died.
But a legal advocate who has worked with illegal migrants in the Waikato since 2008 said all overstayers can't be tarred with the same brush.
Hamilton Community Law Centre assistant managing solicitor Angela Smith said the centre dealt with 276 immigration cases during the past year.
While a fraction of its total 6670-case workload for that period, "the files are quite substantial", she said, reflecting the complexity of the issues.
"They're generally a lot more complex, especially if they are unlawful."
Aside from their obvious legal issues, those deemed overstayers had to struggle with employment and how to support their families, she said.
Generally, language difficulties and poor advice were common reasons for being here illegally, she said. "The third reason would be that they come here legitimately, have children here and don't want to take them back.
"The children are always the innocent victims in these matters," she said.