Venezuelans given deportation orders

The relatives regretted the deportation of the 97 Venezuelans - Grevic Alvarado
The relatives regretted the deportation of the 97 Venezuelans - Grevic Alvarado

Some Venezuelans who went to collect updated work permits last week were instead given deportation orders.

The delivery of 1,072 updated work permits began at the Immigration Office, Henry Street, Port of Spain on September 4.

But human-rights activist Sofía Figueroa León told Newsday many Venezuelans reported instead they received appointments and subsequent deportation orders because they included their children when they filled out their renewal documents earlier this year. The children arrived in Trinidad and Tobago illegally after their parents registered in 2019.

Figueroa León said, “We are talking about fathers and mothers who received amnesties to work and stay here regularly, and who at first were not able to bring their children. They should have the right to include their children, because they are their immediate family members.”

Figueroa León said most of the children have at least been registered with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) as asylum-seekers.

“They are complying with international protocols. Their parents are legally registered with the TT government. Why issue a deportation order?”

She wanted answers from the Minister of National Security and the Chief Immigration Officer over what she considered “yet another persecution of Venezuelans, even those who are legally here.”

Ely González, a mother with a work permit who has renewed all her documents, said she is worried.

“I brought my four-year-old son in 2020. At first I didn't bring him with me, because I didn't have the money and I wanted to settle down first.

“Today, my son is seven years old. He has adapted to this country. He speaks English while attending a private school here.

“I work in a supermarket, and he and I have been growing up together.”

She decided to include her son when she renewed her documents in search of legal security for him as well.

“On social media, several people who work for the TT government and are close to the Venezuelan community said we could include our children in this update. We trusted them, but now Immigration is putting pressure on us.”

González was among those first told their permits had been renewed, two weeks ago.

She went to get her new sticker, but received a appointment order for October 4.

“The officers took away my registration card, my passport and my son's documents and told me I had go to the appointment on October 4 and now I have to go to Immigration weekly while officials make a decision on my case. I'm worried.”

She said other Venezuelan friends did the same and had been given deportation orders, along with their children.

“It is unfair Immigration wants to deport us just for trying to do things right. Including our children in the renewal of documents is part of the legalisation process with the TT government.

“The authorities should evaluate our cases, verify we are hard-working people and we only want to be with our children here legally.”

Up to this week, the sixth week of delivery, just over 2,300 Venezuelans with permits had been called to collect the stickers extending their work permits until December.

Around 6,500 are still waiting.

Newsday tried to get a response from Chief Immigration Officer Vera Persad, but messages were not returned.

In a press conference in July, 2020, the Minister of National Security at that time, Stuart Young, said Venezuelans who had registered and were given legal residency and the right to work under the government’s 2019 amnesty, but who were found to be “harbouring” irregular migrants, could have their residency revoked and face deportation.


"Venezuelans given deportation orders"

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