PM on Venezuelan migrants again: They’re here for good

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley. - Sureash Cholai
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley. - Sureash Cholai

The temporary registration of 16, 523 Venezuelan nationals, which allowed them to work and live in Trinidad and Tobago legally, will invariably result in their permanent relocation, according to the Prime Minister.

In his second statement, in just over two and a half hours, Dr Rowley lashed out at critics, including Opposition MP Dr Roodal Moonilal, who described his initial statement condemning the Organisation of American States and the US administration as being too angry and condemnatory.

He described Moonilal as an "opportunistic carbuncle" in his latest missive.

Rowley said, "If we appear to be a "soft-touch flexible-border neighbour," this country would be overrun by tens of thousands of illegal migrants in a "jiffy."

Pointing directly at Moonilal, the PM said: "The fact is that as you and others decry and bemoan our own circumstances here our life and living opportunities are still very attractive to many Venezuelans and others."

Dr Roodal Moonilal -

He accused the UN Human Rights Committee of exploiting the migrant crisis "to inflate and sustain their own operational budgets" as he dismissed their estimates of 60,000 Venezuelans living in TT.

The Prime Minister said those who have benefited from the registration process do not have the right to "import all their families and trafficked customers into TT," since all Venezuelans seeking to enter the country must obtain a visa. That requirement went into effect at the close of the registration process last June.

"Clearly it will not be acceptable for them to remain as people at the margins of our society, eking out a living with children not able to be properly schooled or even being born here as new citizens of TT," Rowley said, offering a glimpse of how Cabinet will handle the expiration of their work permits on December 31.

He said the "wholesale deportation of forced repatriation" was not a feasible option.

"It is against this background that protection of all persons within our borders need to have their present and future circumstances protected by our suite of laws enacted specifically for this purpose," he said.

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"PM on Venezuelan migrants again: They’re here for good"

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