Once one of the Caribbean’s more beautiful and serene destinations, Dominica looks nothing like it did a month ago after Hurricane Maria ripped through homes and lives.
As a result, Dominicans need our help, our compassion, our love and every bit of charity we can offer them as they try to regain some semblance of normality. In light of this, our Prime Minister has suggested that we open our borders and waive immigration restrictions so that Dominicans left homeless in the wake of Hurricane Maria could find shelter in TT. It is an extremely magnanimous and noble gesture by Dr Keith Rowley, but it is one that I fear lacks intelligent foresight.
Russian philosopher, Leo Tolstoy, once said that “our sole purpose in life is to be a service to mankind” and that is exactly what Dr Rowley has asked from the citizenry but considering the economic and social issues plaguing our country, are we in a position to do so?
Have we considered the eventualities and circumstances surrounding this decision? Let’s say a Dominican family is hosted by a Trini family who later find themselves in a tough financial position due to someone losing their job or a serious illness, what then happens to this Dominican family? Will they be deported? Or will we now have to house them and sustain them? Will Dominicans be offered jobs? Are we willing to take these steps to create animosity from those locals who are currently struggling to find suitable employment themselves?
These questions are important because, clearly, we have forgotten that the most caring, loving and giving people in the world are the ones who have little. Or are we assuming that the people most willing to host a Dominican family lives in Maraval or West Moorings with millions in their bank accounts?
So many relevant questions, yet I am not allowed to ask because I have been instructed not to question the almighty leader on his infinite wisdom. I really should “shut my mouth,” shouldn’t I? The farcical irony of celebrating Republic Day whilst being led by a dictator and his henchmen is definitely not lost on me. But the point is that not everyone who disagrees with Dr Rowley’s proposal in whole or in part is xenophobic; in fact, the immediate “you’re a xenophobe” argument illustrates an abject intellectual deficiency; and I am also quite certain that those sanctimonious hypocrites are the last in line to offer any kind of assistance.
The sheep-like groupthink has raged on with the idiotic comparison of Dominican refugees coming to Trinidad, to Trinbagonian economic migrants willingly choosing to live in America, Canada or England and send barrels of goodies back home to family members. The level of absurdity in this argument makes me realise just how silly some people are, when really we should all be willing to engage in meaningful discussions, debates and conversations on this topic, but the visceral and emotional responses always seem to ignore the logical, logistical and economic impact that this can have on a declining economy with an out-of-control crime rate.
It is obvious that, based on Trinbago’s violent reputation, location and culture, Dominicans are not going to flock to our shores, and that is simply because places like St Lucia, Martinique and Guadeloupe are much better options for them. But if I am wrong and the Dominican diaspora does spread this far south, I still don’t foresee it rivalling the influx of illegal Venezuelans, Chinese and Filipinos, which most of our citizens seem to ignore as long as we have eye-candy and Chinese food in abundance.
Not a peep on illegal immigration, yet the position is loud and clear through the vile race-baiting political agenda that guides the arguments (that are too stupid to repeat) from the United National Congress and their supporters. I previously referred to this type of rhetoric as covert racist dog-whistling but this is brazen racism. Honestly, there has been no political party in the history of our country that perpetuates racism so openly.
At the end of the day, we should treat people the way we want to be treated because TT will inevitably experience a devastating natural disaster. However, that does not mean we cannot make intelligent decisions in our quest to be kind; the same way we would help a homeless person in Port of Spain by buying them food and not giving them a hundred dollar bill.
Just ask yourself: Can Trinidad and Tobago really afford to jump off a boat to save Dominicans, if we ourselves cannot swim?