NAPARIMA MP Rodney Charles said TT cannot operate by “vaps” towards migrants but rather needs a clear and current refugee policy which is openly known to all.
He issued a statement on Thursday on behalf of the United National Congress (UNC).
Charles urged that the first order of business of Parliament’s new Joint Select Committee (JSC) on Foreign Affairs should be to craft recommendations to the Government for such a refugee policy.
“The UNC is once again renewing its five-year-old call for a comprehensive refugee policy,” Charles said. He said the policy must be humane, consensually developed, consistent with TT’s treaty obligations and the skills gap in this society, compatible with TT’s laws and global best practice, and most importantly recognise the limits of TT's absorptive capacity.
“If we have a clear and well communicated refugee policy, then there will be no ambiguity regarding our country's position on a number of situations likely to arise with our Venezuelan migrants/refugees.
“Only then will all local and foreign parties be fully apprised of our policy and the reasoning behind it.”
Bodies such as NGOs, the Coast Guard, police service, Immigration Department and Parliament plus the citizenry will know what is required of them in a variety of situations such as arose recently with the deportation of a group of Venezuelans, including children.
“As it stands our refugee policy is developed on the fly, seemingly by the PM taking his own counsel, without full ventilation of the issues, and in reaction to ongoing events.”
Charles said the Government must get hard data to inform this policy.
He called for “a serious policy to lock down our borders,” saying those migrants who were recently deported had returned to TT almost immediately.
Charles said the number of Venezuelans in TT is unknown.
“We are not aware of how many Venezuelan children are born here and therefore entitled to all rights of citizenship.
“Will we keep their children born here but deport their parents? We have not given thought to what will happen after the registration process runs its course, nor have we prepared our schools for teaching bilingual pupils.”
Charles meanwhile urged Dr Rowley to emulate Barbados prime minister Mia Mottley in the quality, depth, tone, reasonableness and maturity of her utterances.
"PM Mottley speaks, articulates and deliberates in measured, well-constructed phrases, befitting a world-class diplomat," Charles said.