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[UPDATED] REGISTER US OR ELSE

V’zuelans send pre-action protocol letter to Young

National Security Minister Stuart Young, reassures Venezuelans lined up outside of Achievors Banquet Hall, at Duncan Village, San Fernando, on June 11, that they would all be registered in due time.
National Security Minister Stuart Young, reassures Venezuelans lined up outside of Achievors Banquet Hall, at Duncan Village, San Fernando, on June 11, that they would all be registered in due time.

ATTORNEYS for 248 Venezuelans, who were unable to register during the Government’s two-week registration exercise in June, are asking the Minister of National Security to allow them to do so in the next 21 days.

The group are also asking that, once they are registered, they get their registration cards so that they can work for one year in TT, as well as assure that they are not deported if they are allowed to be registered.

In a pre-action protocol letter sent to Minister Stuart Young on Thursday, attorneys Keith Scotland and Jacqueline Chang said the 248 encountered problems to register during the two-week registration process which began on May 31.

According to the attorneys, who gave the minister seven days in which to respond to the letter, said it was no fault of their clients that they could not register.

Chang, who wrote the letter, said the 248 were all residing in TT at the time of the registration process and had a legitimate expectation that they would be allowed to register because of the announcements and promises made by the Government prior to the start of the process.

They said the affected Venezuelans believed that the process of registration amounted to an amnesty for those in TT at the time of the process and once they were registered, their immigration status here could be regularised.

According to Chang, the 248, all of whom have documentation to prove they were in TT and were asylum seekers with the UNHCR, were unable to access the online forms on the website which crashed frequently, and when they went to the centres, they encountered other problems there.

Among those problems were only 850 people were registered daily, despite there being thousands in line; centres closed before 5 pm, and on some days as early as 2 pm; the centres were overcrowded and inaccessible; some of them were turned away and told to come back, day after day, to no avail’ others who left the lines to use the toilets were unable to re-join the line and some in the line were not able to register when the centre closed at 5 pm as was the case for those who went to the Port of Spain Centre at the Queen’s Park Oval. Chang also pointed out that although the Government knew that the estimated number of Venezuelans in TT was about 40,000, the process, “though extended to all persons, paradoxically only envisaged a registration of 28,000.”

She further pointed out that at the conclusion of the registration exercise, only 16,543 Venezuelans were registered, “far less than the amount estimated to be in the country (40,000) and less than anticipated by the Government itself (28,000).

Chang told the minister there was a settled position enunciated by the Privy Council which applied favourably to migrants in countries in instances where a Government has delivered “unequivocal” representations and promises as the TT Government had prior to the registration process.

She said the 248 had a legitimate expectation they would not be denied access to centres and were now under the threat of deportation, which, if that happens, would be tantamount to an unlawful, irrational and unreasonable act.”

Chang said the Government’s registration process implemented “simply was not efficacious to facilitate the intended objective.”

Newsday attempted to contact Young for a response but calls to his phone went unanswered.

This story was originally published with the title "248 V'zuelans demand another chance to register" and has been adjusted to include additional details. See original post below.


ATTORNEYS for 248 Venezuelans, who were unable to register during the Government’s two-week registration exercise in June, are asking the Minister of National Security to allow them to do so in the next 21 days.

The group are also asking that, once they are registered, they get their registration cards so that they can work for one year in TT, as well as assure that they are not deported if they are allowed to be registered.

In a pre-action protocol letter sent to Minister Stuart Young on Thursday, attorneys Keith Scotland and Jacqueline Chang said the 248 encountered problems to register during the two-week registration process which began on May 31.

According to the attorneys, who gave the minister seven days in which to respond to the letter, said it was no fault of their clients that they could not register.

Chang, who wrote the letter, said the 248 were all residing in TT at the time of the registration process and had a legitimate expectation that they would be allowed to register because of the announcements and promises made by the Government prior to the start of the process.

They said the affected Venezuelans believed that the process of registration amounted to an amnesty for those in TT at the time of the process and once they were registered, their immigration status here could be regularised.

According to Chang, the 248, all of whom have documentation to prove they were in TT and were asylum seekers with the UNHCR, were unable to access the online forms on the website which crashed frequently, and when they went to the centres, they encountered other problems there.

Among those problems were only 850 people were registered daily, despite there being thousands in line; centres closed before 5 pm, and on some days as early as 2 pm; the centres were overcrowded and inaccessible; some of them were turned away and told to come back, day after day, to no avail’ others who left the lines to use the toilets were unable to re-join the line and some in the line were not able to register when the centre closed at 5 pm as was the case for those who went to the Port of Spain Centre at the Queen’s Park Oval.

Chang also pointed out that although the Government knew that the estimated number of Venezuelans in TT was about 40,000, the process, “though extended to all persons, paradoxically only envisaged a registration of 28,000.”

She further pointed out that at the conclusion of the registration exercise, only 16,543 Venezuelans were registered, “far less than the amount estimated to be in the country (40,000) and less than anticipated by the Government itself (28,000).

Chang told the minister there was a settled position enunciated by the Privy Council which applied favourably to migrants in countries in instances where a Government has delivered “unequivocal” representations and promises as the TT Government had prior to the registration process.

She said the 248 had a legitimate expectation they would not be denied access to centres and were now under the threat of deportation, which, if that happens, would be tantamount to an unlawful, irrational and unreasonable act.”

Chang said the Government’s registration process implemented “simply was not efficacious to facilitate the intended objective.”

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