Rethink immigration policies

THE EDITOR: The unprecedented, prudent yet humanitarian registration of Venezuelan migrants by Government nullifies any question over the generosity of our nation for people in need. It was meant to offer some protection and guide relevant decisions.

Unfortunately, it seems to have morphed into a significant pull factor wrongly interpreted by migrants and or their surrogates, as a license to bring their kin here, in clear violation of our immigration policies.

Several people/organisations have been calling for migrant legislation to be enacted. As a citizen, I caution Government to tread carefully along this path. These instruments are never perfect. Loopholes will be exploited in favour of economic migrants. Evidently, even policy can be used as a defence.

Having held informal academic discussions with a noted international agency with offices in Trinidad and Tobago as part of courses in Sustainable Development and International Health, I question the logic and sadly even the motivation behind this prompting/cajoling. It is void of a holistic objective assessment.

Is enough attention being placed on the significant number of pregnant migrant women challenging the gynecological and obstetric health care services? Even more disturbing is the probable exploitation of citizenship by birth.

Can this be part of the plan? The country will be brought before international media and audiences with spectacular allegations of seeking to separate families. Will this now pave the way for permanent settlement even if conditions improve in their home country?

Can Venezuela now claim no obligation to accept children born outside of its jurisdiction? Remember the extremely sad Haitian/Dominican situation. I propose the following:

* Strengthen and enforce our current immigration laws which have served the country well before considering ad hoc potentially dangerous legislation and formalizing an ill- conceived policy.

* Engage the source-nation government on ways to collaborate in mutually beneficial ways.

* Resolve not to be pressured by international agencies and local actors. Citizens of this land must come first.

* Perform a socio-economic impact analysis of the current migrant situation inclusive of methodologies in modelling demographic shifts, economic burden, local labour content distortions, changes to social services demand and very importantly carrying capacity constraints.

*Solicit and include feedback from the true stakeholders- the citizens of our country (not just self-serving politicians, business owners with narrow financial motives or technocrats with tunnel vision).

Act now before it is too late!


Senior Lecturer



"Rethink immigration policies"

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