The eight illegal Chinese immigrants who were held during a raid at their work place on Charlotte street on Monday have been remanded into custody of the Immigration Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the detention centre in Santa Rosa, this according to a source within the TTPS. Asked how long the nationals would be kept at the detention centre, he revealed that in such cases, they would be held there just long enought for their necessary travel documents to be processed in order for them to leave.
The source further revealed that thus far, officers of the Port of Spain City Police Unit have been conducting further enquiries into the owner of the building and their contractors but have not determined who is the owner of the building in which the men were found.
Newsday spoke to Corporate Communications Secretary in the Ministry of National Security Marcia Hope who said that while there is no fixed time limit in which an individual can be held at the facility, the Ministry seeks to process illegal immigrants and return them to their home countries as quickly as possible.
"The ministry hopes that we resolve all issues as soon as possible. But many times we are challenged to repatriate these individuals. Apart from documentation its challenging for the government to return them to distant countries in Africa or Asia is very costly and not only the individuals themselves. but we have to have them escorted and on multiple flights."
In addition to the issue of cost, Hope says that Immigration officials are often faced with the difficulty of accurately identifying the detainee and their country of origin, a task she says is especially difficult as many immigrants at the facility either lie about their nationality or do not have any supporting documentation of their true identity.
"Many persons give us false documents. Sometimes they don’t give us travel documents so you can't verify their name you can't verify where they’re from exactly and you cant verify it because theres no documentation to prove that they are who they claim to be. All we can do is go through the normal diplomatic chalnnels and liaise with the embassy of that country to prove whether the person based on the name provided is in fact a national.
Many times however they come back empty-handed because they cant confirm the persons identity or is from the country they claim to be, where else would you actually repatriate them to?"
Hope added that while there are major challenges to the smooth operation of the immigration arm of the National Security, the Ministry continues to partner with the embassies and consulates to properly identify and monitor illegal immigrants.