No to illegal entry, yes to deportation: Rowley on Venezuelan migrants

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley

THE Prime Minister said it was a humanitarian act by his government to register 16,500 Venezuelan migrants and give them a space in Trinidad and Tobago because of the political and economic situation in that country.

Rowley said the worsening conditions in Venezuela, however, do not mean that TT’s doors haveto remain open until those issues are resolved.

He said TT and Venezuela, seven miles apart, have enjoyed a good relationship and open borders, but there has to be a limit to the numbers they can accept and through channels they can control.

With TT being seen as a paradise for tens of thousands, including those involved in human trafficking, he said the government must be concerned about what would happen if large numbers of Venezuelans end up here.

He said government will not encourage their illegal entry into TT and will exercise its right to deport them after the due process of the law.

"We have not taken a decision to register more Venezuelans. What we have also done –and the policy still stands at the time of registration if you were not among those who were registered who were here, who have come in over a period of time – if you were not among them and you turn up in TT, we will exercise our right to deport you.”

If those who are registered are caught in illegal activity, they too will be deregistered and deported.

Speaking on the Venezuelan migrant crisis on the CNC3 Morning Brew on Tuesday, Rowley defended the Coast Guard, saying for the few boatloads that make it to shore, many more are intercepted and turned back, but this does not make the news.

He said there are nationals, including law enforcement officers, involved in the human trade.

“There are people in Venezuela who are organising people, telling them if you go to Trinidad, where things are better, if you get across to TT beaches or into Cedros or into Chaguaramas or into Port of Spain, San Fernando, once you get there, this is your contact.”

When this happens, he said, “There are people in TT who would like to be humanitarian or otherwise and would receive them.”

Rowley said TT must be careful about laws being called for with respect to Venezuelan migrants, or else this country can end up in grave danger.

“The Immigration Act is being reviewed but we are not going to put into the new law something that says that we give rights to people who now have more rights than nationals.”

Rowley said “millions of taxpayers' dollars are being spent to argue on the constitutional rights of migrants who entered this country illegally.”

He accused some politicians and lawyers of having “agendas” in these immigration matters.

“There are politicians and lawyers at the lower rung of the ladder telling you, 'We have refugees to go and defend in court.'

“Our court is now tied up by the hour. You know what they are arguing in the court for? Judicial review on the actions of the minister sworn under law to deport illegal Venezuelans.

“We have now closed the borders to our own nationals. In this emergency of the pandemic, nationals now have to be allowed through permits to get home.”

“I have a daughter in New York since January, and she cannot come home. Born and bred in Woodbrook, she has to get permission to come into this country, and an illegal immigrant jump on a boat, get on the beach on Los Iros and a lawyer is telling me that person has more rights than a child in Laventille who cannot move from here.

“But of course, you can go to the courts and say an illegal immigrant who broke the law, penetrated the borders, has the constitutional right not to be sent home.

“Just turning up on a beach in Los Iros and saying you have arrived does not make you a refugee.”


"No to illegal entry, yes to deportation: Rowley on Venezuelan migrants"

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