Wed | Oct 23, 2019

Trinidad doesn't want us!

Published:Sunday | October 12, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Gary Griffith - Contributed
The rejection order handed to Jamaican Shellisa Hamilton when she attempted to enter Trinidad recently.

Twin-island republic defends decision to deny entry to some J'cans

PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC):The Trinidad and Tobago government says the influx of thousands of illegal Jamaicans into the country is putting a strain on its resources, resulting in the loss of more than TT$1 billion or J$17.7 billion annually.

Trinidad's National Security Minister Gary Griffith, in a statement supporting the actions of immigration officers to deport 13 Jamaicans last month, said the authorities cannot act as a "rubber stamp" when it comes to allowing people into the country.

"It is to be noted that at this present time, there are more than 19,000 Jamaicans in Trinidad and Tobago who have entered at legitimate ports of entry, but who have remained illegally and cannot be accounted for," Griffith said.

He described the statistics as "alarming", saying "these people are dependent on state resources such as education and health care, may be employed and are not subject to taxes, which amounts to a loss of revenue of over TT$1 billion per annum".

With Jamaica's Ministry of Foreign Affairs last week reporting that it would be having talks with its Trinidadian counterparts after the recent decision to deny entry to 13 Jamaicans, Griffith was adamant that there would be no change in the stance out of Port-of-Spain.

In his statement, Griffith said that the carte blanche facilitation of entry of visitors into Trinidad and Tobago, without proper checks and balances as stipulated in the Immigration Act, creates the potential for an exponential increase in criminal activity, since the majority of these persons will have no fixed place of abode in the country and are unable to work or acquire a source of income.

He said immigration officers receive extensive training in various interviewing and profiling techniques, which, coupled with information communicated from intelligence agencies via the Border Management System, ensures that an informed and unbiased decision is made regarding admission or refusal of persons seeking entry.

He reiterated that there was no abuse of authority in refusing entry to the 13 Jamaicans, and immigration authorities carry out their duties and play a pivotal role in securing Trinidad's borders while facilitating the free movement of CARICOM nationals as enshrined in the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas.


Griffith said CARICOM nationals do not have an automatic entry into Trinidad and Tobago, and they must meet immigration requirements, noting that Article 46(3) of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas makes provision for each member state to protect its citizens.

"This ultimately means that the immigration authorities of any member state may deny the entry of a CARICOM national where it has been determined on reasonable grounds that the entry of the person would be detrimental to the interests of its citizens," Griffith said.

He said it was the duty of the national security ministry to ensure that each visitor who enters this country does not in any way become a liability to the state, which can happen if persons attempt to enter with no skills certificate, no possible employer, and nowhere to live.

"Failure to follow these regulations would establish a virtual open-door policy, thereby reducing immigration to a rubber stamp division, with no authority to debar anyone from entering the country.

"The negative implications of such a policy include an increase in the unemployment rate and an adverse effect on the national economy, since the Government of Trinidad and Tobago will now have to bear the burden of providing education, health care and other social amenities at taxpayers' expense to tens of thousands of undocumented migrants," Griffith added.