Immigration NZ has been prioritising the deportation of male overstayers, over females, based on the assumption they may be more likely to commit crime, the department has acknowledged.
Last year, 662 of the 827 people forcibly deported from New Zealand were male, though the department has not yet provided figures on whether more men than woman may have been liable for deportation in the first place.
An Immigration official caused a furore last month when he told RNZ the department had been engaged in racial profiling, targeting overstayers from certain countries for deportation.
However, it subsequently denied that in a briefing document demanded by Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway.
It explained that the official had been referring to a profiling pilot that had never got off the drawing board and which had not in fact been intended to "score" overstayers based on their country of origin.
However, it said the pilot had "evolved into a set of criteria" that was considered when prioritising deportations, and which included both age and sex.
Responding to an Official Information Act request seeking clarification on that, general manager of risk, compliance and intelligence services Nicola Hogg acknowledged what appears to be gender profiling by the department.
Overstayers' gender was considered "because, based on immigration investigation activity, men are more likely to be involved in immigration offending than woman", she said.
Gender appears to have been a specific consideration in deportation decisions, even though the briefing paper provided to Lees-Galloway indicated that any actual unlawful activity or immigration fraud in which an overstayer had been involved would be directly taken into account.
The department treated overstayers differently based on their age, because it didn't want to prioritise the deportation of the young and the elderly unless there were other factors to be considered, Hogg said.
Immigration NZ manager Peter Devoy said prioritisation for deportation was based on a number of factors and "not gender alone".
"Absolutely under no circumstances would Immigration NZ ever profile people based on single factors such as gender or ethnicity alone. Profiling people based only on gender is completely unacceptable," he said.
Immigration NZ discussed its practices with the Human Rights Commission last month, in the wake of the racial profiling claims.
A spokeswoman for the commission would not comment at the time, beyond saying it had "a productive discussion" with Immigration NZ and would be considering the information it had provided.
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