THE EDITOR: Acting Chief Immigration Officer Charmaine Gandhi-Andrews says the Immigration Division has halted exercises to detain illegal immigrants owing to the increasing numbers of people entering the country illegally and a lack of capacity at the Immigration Detention Centre.
“We have a very small detention centre compared to the number of issues and the number of persons that we find in breach of the Immigration Act,” she told a joint select committee meeting with the Immigration Division and Vision on Mission at the Parliament building, Port of Spain.
The above admission by the Immigration officials is, to say the least, very disturbing and points to a crisis in terms of border control and management of the ports of entry into TT. It also speaks loudly about our ability to patrol the coastline of TT. But what is most emphatic is the feeling that the authorities have now given up and TT is a free-for-all when it comes to illegal entry and overstaying in this country.
The public servants charged with the direct face-to-face management and control over immigration have admitted in my view their inability to stem the tide of illegal immigrants and have dropped their hands. TT is a free-for-all.
Where in all of this is the Minister of National Security? What is the Government doing about it? It has announced a registry for Venezuelans. Is this an unofficial way to say migrants are free to arrive and stay? What is being done to deal with the number of sham marriages that are taking place by migrants facilitated by marriage officers to allow illegal migrants to stay in TT?
For the last three years the migration of Venezuelans – and now we are learning of other hardened criminals disguised as Venezuelans – has been taking place.
The nation’s national security has been severely compromised. And the Rowley-led PNM administration, the one that boasted on day one that it was in charge, is now a spectator to the plight of the real citizens of TT.
What a sordid mess.
DR SURUJRATTAN RAMBACHAN