‘Don’t be intimidated by Jamaica’

‘Don’t be intimidated by Jamaica’

Former national security minister blames CSME for Jamaica/TT migration problems

Monday, April 25, 2016

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PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC) — Former National Security Minister Gary Griffith is urging the Trinidad and Tobago Government not to be intimidated by calls out of Jamaica for that Caribbean Community (Caricom) country to seek legal action regarding the deportation of Jamaican nationals.

Griffith, in a statement, claimed that more than 20,000 Jamaicans were residing here illegally and have become a burden on the state.

Last week, Caricom Deputy Secretary-General Ambassador Dr Manorma Soeknandan said there was need for more sensitisation among regional border officials regarding the rules and procedures governing free travel within the 15-member grouping.

Soeknandan said that the way Caricom nationals were treated as they travelled regionally continued to generate discussion.

Jamaica has, in the past few weeks, been critical of the decision of immigration officials in Trinidad and Tobago to send back some of their nationals, claiming that they were being deported because they would be a drain on the local economy.

Jamaicans have called for a boycott of goods from Port of Spain and earlier last week an Opposition legislator called on the new Andrew Holness Government to take the matter before the Caribbean Court of Justice.

But Griffith, who served as national security minister in the former government, said "It is indeed alarming that the Jamaican Opposition would question the legitimate actions by our immigration officers as they attempt daily to do their jobs, after being abused constantly by a few Jamaican nationals who attempt to enter our country without the appropriate requirements and documentation.

"It is because of this that there are over 20,000 Jamaican nationals who have done just that — by using the CSME (Caricom Single Market and Economy) angle to enter for six months, but then refuse to leave after that six-month period.

"They remain unemployed and become a burden to the State. If unemployed, at times some turn to a life of crime, inclusive of gang activity; if they do work, many are abused by their employers because they are here illegally and paid below the minimum wage. Be employed illegally, and hence taking a job away from a bona fide TT citizen who is unemployed." Griffith said.

He said despite their illegal status, the Jamaicans still have full access to State resources such as education, medical care and other social services, and this is costing the state over TT$500 million annually.

Griffith said that while the oil-rich twin island republic always had a policy of welcoming non-nationals, it disallows them solely on the grounds of them being a national security threat or burden to the State purse.

He said that the situation would not have reached to this extreme had Trinidad and Tobago been stringent with its laws.

He said it was this relaxed attitude which resulted in "certain Caricom nationals" abusing the CSME programme.

"To the Jamaican Opposition, if they are not aware, several Jamaican nationals verbally abuse our Immigration officers on entry, and below are just a few examples that would confirm that such individuals should definitely be debarred entry if they attempt to enter our country, and no CSME clause can override this," Griffith added.

The CSME allows for the free movement of goods, skills, labour and services across the region.

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