ATTORNEY GENERAL Faris Al-Rawi said he had cried to see individuals protesting against Venezuelan migrants being registered in TT.
“Did we witness on television, protesters outside of the registration centre in Port of Spain crying and screaming, ‘Go back home! Stop registration’?
“I want to say I recognized some of those protesters."
He said they had also protested against the Government outside Parliament, allegedly paid by members of certain political parties. The protest was as xenophobic as the Opposition’s motion calling to annul the migrant registration, he charged.
“Xenophobia is the fear of the outside of foreigners. And, Madam President, I cried a tear from my soul to see people demonstrating against people in distress.”
Al-Rawi said his father’s family had been shattered by life in sanction-hit Iraq.
He said the motion to do undo the registration was a “ridiculous absurdity” that would be “an injustice to our souls.”
The AG rationalised the registration by saying it costs up to $25,000 for TT to house an illegal migrant, who simply wanted the chance to work.
“Forty-six per cent of respondents had tertiary or university-level education, masters (degrees), licensed, or technical certification. Twenty per cent had received job offers in TT.”
However, he added that 53 per cent faced discrimination, 14 per cent were mistreated at their workplace and eight per cent were victims of physical abuse, .
Lamenting the discovery of 19 minors held in sexual slavery, the AG said the registration exercise had let the Government get details of human traffickers, in line with calls in a recent US State Department report that kept had TT at Tier 2 owing to a lack of criminal convictions.
The UNC plan to make the registration null and void would not provide such details.
“How do you know how people came in? Who paid the boatman money? What was the boatman's name? What was the cellphone used to contact you to drop you? Which house were you taken to? Who picked you up?”
The registration has helped tackle trafficking, he said. “We now know all the vessels that brought the people here. We know the telephones numbers of the people that brought them here. We know the cars. We know the homes. We are better able to track the trafficking of little girls and Venezuelan women.”
The AG said the Opposition’s plan was immoral, illogical, unconscionable and costly.
“If we were to negative this (migrant registration), we would have to literally go and lock up 16,000 people immediately; leave them poor, penniless, broken and incarcerated; and eventually find some mechanism to transport 16,000 people out of TT.”
Accusing the Opposition of absurdity, he said the registration process was rational, conscionable, moral and sensible.
The Senate voted to reject the Opposition’s motion.