SIX Venezuelan women who said they were told they would get refugee status if they came to Trinidad were yesterday each fined $8,000 for entering the country illegally.
Katherine Chirinos, Michelle Gutierrez Ruiz, Evelyn Munoz Calzadilla, Madeley Gonzales Aponte, Kimberly Gonzales Aponte and Kimberly Sanchez Avendano, all aged 20-24, appeared before Chaguanas magistrate Jo-Ann Connor yesterday.
The six were arrested at a house in Las Lomas on Wednesday night and taken to the Immigration Division, where they were charged the next day.
The women, who were represented by attorney Naveen Maraj, pleaded guilty to the charge, laid under section 40(1) of the Immigration Act.
In a plea for leniency, Maraj spoke of the economic hardship experienced in Venezuela and said it affected the women’s emotional and physical welfare.
He also added that the six were all young and had bright futures ahead of them.
The women were each fined $8,000 or in default will serve six months in prison.
In sentencing the women, Connor reminded them that there were rules for entering this country and a procedure for seeking refugee status. She also sent a message to other foreign nationals who may be minded to enter this country illegally to go through the proper processes if they chose to come here to seek refugee status.
The six were remanded into custody.