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Tuesday 21 May 2019
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Questions over V’zuela migrant policy

 File photo: Venezuelan women who appeared in court charged with illegal entry into Trinidad.
File photo: Venezuelan women who appeared in court charged with illegal entry into Trinidad.

THE migrant framework policy announced by National Security Minister Stuart Young yesterday is generating mixed views amongst Venezuelans in TT and other commentators.
Beatriz Joseph, a Venezuelan who has lived in TT for 40 years, said the policy was "good in a sense." She said it showed there was some recognition by the Government that there was a humanitarian crisis in Venezuela.

But Joseph said the policy raises "more questions than answers." She wondered how all illegal and legal Venezuelan migrants in TT would be registered between May 31 and June 14.
Joseph was baffled about why people registering would be supervised by officers for six months and get a six-month extension if their results in the workplace were favourable. She said Venezuelans were sceptical about the police or immigration officers trying to trick them so they could be deported.

Joseph did not know whether the Venezuelan Embassy had any input into the policy and said Venezuelans were fleeing a country they could not go back to. She added people in TT needed to understand that Venezuelans were "humans too." Saying human trafficking between TT and Venezuela was real, Joseph said many Venezuelans paid a lot of money to go to TT and other countries.

She wondered if TT had looked at how countries like Colombia and Argentina had dealt with Venezuelan migrants within their borders.
According to Joseph, some people believed the influx of Venezuelans into TT had caused crime to escalate. While some migrants could have criminal records, Joseph said crime in TT was "not the fault of Venezuelan migrants.
She added it was not far-fetched that TT nationals could find themselves in similar circumstances.
Another Venezuelan national, speaking on condition of anonymity, said there were "positive and negative aspects" to the policy. She said members of the Venezuelan community needed to be properly educated about it before deciding whether it was good or bad.

Former foreign affairs minister Winston Dookeran felt the policy "reflected a level of compassion" by the Government and hoped it would be smoothly implemented. He said the Venezuelan migrant issue would not be solved until there was a resolution in Venezuela, and did not think the crisis there would continue indefinitely.

Movement for Social Justice leader David Abdulah said the policy was not holistic and claimed it was discriminatory against migrant workers from other countries.
He wondered if by setting fixed dates for registration, Government was creating a situation where more Venezuelans could come to TT to register.
He reiterated his call for a single migrant policy.

United National Congress (UNC) MP Rodney Charles claimed the policy was "crafted without reliable data" and input from stakeholders and warned the policy "will do far more harm and make an already difficult and tense situation worse." He said the UNC maintained that TT needed a well-thought-out refugee policy.

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