An American overstayer appears to have found a way for illegal migrants to postpone deportation indefinitely, although Immigration New Zealand and its minister disagree.
Failed businessman Harmon Wilfred, who has lived in Christchurch since about 2001 with his Canadian heiress wife Carolyn Wilfred-Dare, renounced his United States citizenship in 2005 over alimony payments and other issues.
He claims to have been a CIA contractor who was persecuted after he exposed a big CIA fraud.
Immigration New Zealand, which served a deportation order on him two years ago, wants to send him on his way but says it needs a country that will take him.
INZ fraud and compliance manager Peter Elms said Wilfred needed a travel document or "the prior agreement of receiving border agencies to be deported".
In a dig at the US Embassy, he said it was extremely unusual for a country to accept a renouncement of citizenship "without first checking that they hold the citizenship of another country".
"So Mr Wilfred's course of action would generally not be available to most people who are unlawfully in New Zealand.
"Like any person liable for deportation, he does not have certainty to remain in New Zealand and may be subject to arrest and detention under the Immigration Act. Our compliance officers have been actively trying to persuade Wilfred to leave New Zealand," he said.
Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse said Wilfred's ploy was "not a loop hole". "It is an anomalous situation that would be very unlikely to happen again," he said.
Wilfred, who did not respond to an approach from The Press, told another newspaper New Zealand was home, and despite his recent failure and tax debts, he and his wife had put millions into the country.
Wilfred has run several businesses and charities in Christchurch mainly funded by his wife.
His company La Famia No 2 Ltd, trading as La Famia Function Centre at Wigram Manor, was placed in liquidation last month by a resolution of the shareholders.
Inland Revenue is owed $66,810 in GST and $228,000 in PAYE payments. General creditors are owed $246,000.
Employees are owed $9570 in holiday pay and $61,000 in awards against the operation made by the Employment Relations Authority.
Immigration said it could not comment on whether it had raised the issue with the US Embassy.
- © Fairfax NZ News
Can we afford a commuter rail service for North Canterbury?Related story: Traffic delays force commuter rail services probe