While eight illegal Chinese immigrants sit in a holding cell at the Immigration Detention Centre, having been brought here to do menial construction work, honest, decent, hard-working Trinidadians, especially young Africans, are being left on the breadline.
This was the comment made by former Contractors’ Association president, Mikey Joseph, in an exclusive interview with the Trinidad Newsday. The former president also extended deepest condolences to the Chinese nationals who were brought here illegally, saying Trinbagonians are celebrating being emancipated from indentureship and slavery, while the Chinese nationals who were brought here illegally, experience it on a daily basis.
“Here we have migrant workers, being brought here illegally, while we have laws that explain proper hours of work, and the proper minimum wage. Those people that come in illegitimately cannot benefit from these laws, as the people who bring them here are simply looking for a quick profit.”
He also believed that police may have stumbled upon a greater human trafficking racket, where illegal immigrants are being supplied to contract workers.
Joseph said, for an immigrant to be legally requested for work, the person must have a special area of expertise, where no other local worker is able to handle the job, and a local understudy must also be hired to build the capacity of the workers locally. However, according to Joseph, there are several cases where the rule is not followed.
“I have seen people working at some places and I ask myself why was someone brought from another country to do such a menial job, when we have local people more than equal to the task. This practise is resulting in a lot of people being left unable to provide for their families.”
On Monday the immigrants were detained by officers of the Port of Spain City Police and the Immigration Division, during an exercise held on Charlotte Street. Police were informed that there were a group of foreign workers living in slave-like conditions on Charlotte Street.
None of the workers who were detained spoke a word of English. The men worked and lived in cramped unfinished rooms with no ventilation and no bathroom facilities. The men drank from water which contained mosquito larvae, and quite possibly, harmful pathogens.
The eight men were among 20 that were detained during the police raid on Monday.