US group claims Trinidad’s immigration policy is “harmful to CARICOM”

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Trinidad’s Piarco International Airport (Credit: Flickr)

NEW YORK, United States, Friday December 12, 2014, CMC – A United States-based Caribbean group has condemned the recent deportation of 70 African nationals by immigration authorities in Trinidad and Tobago, saying that the twin-island republic’s immigration policy is “harmful to CARICOM” (the Caribbean Community).

The Brooklyn, New York-based Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy (CGID) on Friday said that the action by the incumbent People’s Partnership Government of Trinidad and Tobago “has triggered accusations of racism.

“The optics and reality of the mostly Indian-based administration of Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar deporting a large group of black people are horrible, and have fueled the criticism,” the group charged.

But the coalition government has denied suggestions of racial and religious discrimination in the deportation of African nationals, saying that Port-of-Spain had deported more Guyanese citizens than any other citizen of any country.

Attorney General Anand Ramlogan told the Senate that it was “mischievous, malicious and very dangerous” for allegations to be made that the Indo-dominated government was also engaged in racial profiling in the deportation of illegal immigrants.

He told legislators that statistics from 2010 to October 2014 indicated that “the number one country with deportees from Trinidad and Tobago is not the African continent, not India, but Guyana.

“The truth of the matter is that illegal immigrants from the African continent were way down on the list at number seven. The total number of African immigrants that have been deported from 2010 to now is 70 persons. Seventy African deportees in four, nearly five, years, against 734 Guyanese.”

But CGID said Ramgolan, “in his infinite wisdom, has established an obvious pattern of discrimination against Guyanese.

“He strategically stopped short of disclosing the race of the persons repatriated to Guyana; may be for good reason,” the group said. “This insular posture must be condemned.

“T&T (Trinidad and Tobago) cannot aspire to benefit from of CARICOM’s free movement of skills, people and capital, within the framework of the CSME (Caribbean Single Market and Economy), while it deliberately discriminates against targeted CARICOM nationals; namely Guyanese, Jamaicans and others,” it added.

“Clearly, T&T’s contentious immigration policy has fractured regional unity,” it continued. The Persad-Bissessar administration’s protectionism has no place in a region where altruistic policies are crucial for unity and progress.”

CGID urged the Trinidad and Tobago administration to “reform its discriminatory immigration policy or leave CARICOM if it wants to continue down this path.”

Last weekend, the government defended its decision to spend TT$2.6 million (One TT dollar = US$0.16 cents) to charter a plane to deport 15 illegal Ghana nationals saying that it was difficult to get visas for them men to travel back to their country through commercial flights.

The Ghanaians were deported following a marathon 12 hour court case on Saturday by lawyers to prevent their deportation.

Trinidad and Tobago National Security Minister Gary said that there were 100,000 illegal immigrants in the country, whom he said were draining the country’s resources.
He also accused some of them of being involved in criminal activities.

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