DEPUTY Commissioner of Police Jayson Forde said police will be challenging Venezuelans for their registration documents.
“Going forward we are going to be challenging persons who we meet outside there and we are going to be asking them to show their documentation, because on the face of it, I cannot tell who is legal and who is illegal. So we are going to be challenging them. If you are found to be wanting, we are going to charge you and you will be sentenced after facing court.”
He added that police will also be looking at the repatriation of these people and revealed that on Tuesday, about 167 Venezuelans will be deported. He said the Coast Guard will turn back people on the high seas, while those who manage to land will be arrested, questioned, charged and repatriated.
Speaking on Monday at a police media briefing, Forde recalled that last year Venezuelans were registered and documents issued to 16,000, who were granted permission to live and work in TT for six months. They were given an automatic six-month extension and then the registration was extended up to December.
At the briefing Forde explained that when the police hold people they enquire about their status. “Obviously if your status is legal then we have to allow you to leave.” He added, however, there is a proviso to that as police have found situations where people have gone across to Venezuela and come back and they have their registration documents.
He said once people are found in that particular situation they will be deported and National Security Minister Stuart Young has committed to cancel their registration. “And as such you will be deemed as a person being undesirable and we will take you back.”
On Saturday, during the covid19 virtual briefing, Young said local people including boatmen, vehicle drivers and landlords, were part of the importation and facilitation of trafficking illegal immigrants. He stressed this was not only a matter of illegal activity but the trafficking was putting the population at risk of the spread of covid19 and other health problems.
Forde reported in the South Western Division there was a collaboration with the Immigration Department in which 46 Venezuelans were detained. “All things being equal they will be charged for entering our county illegally.”
He said the public shared information that some boats had left Venezuela and were en route to TT, specifically the La Cuevas area. The Coast Guard was deployed in the Gulf of Paria and a boat with 32 people and a Trinidadian captain was intercepted. He said the people have been medically examined and quarantined at the heliport in Chaguaramas.
“That was not the end of the story.”
Forde said because there was information that the boats were heading to Las Cuevas police officers were also mobilised at that location. This resulted in eight nationals and eight Venezuelans being arrested and enquiries were being conducted in relation to human trafficking.