T&T gov't's failure to implement amnesty fueling Trinidad-Jamaica tensions, says country's former security minister
Debbie-Ann Wright, News Editor - Radio
The Trinidadian government is being blamed for contributing to tensions surrounding the treatment of Jamaicans in Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) by failing to implement a proposed amnesty for people there illegally to get regularised.
Former T&T minister of national security, Gary Griffith, says the previous government had developed a plan to offer a six-month window to people who are in Trinidad illegally to get the relevant work permits.
However, he told The Gleaner/Power 106 News Centre the current minister of national security has failed to act on the plan and this is fuelling the perception that the Trinidadian Government does not want Jamaicans in Trinidad.
He says it is contributing to the abuse of Jamaicans and other illegal immigrants by employers in Trinidad and Tobago.
Griffith says all Trinidadians and Jamaicans should be pushing for the issue of illegal immigration to be dealt with given the potential for human trafficking.
Griffith notes that more than 100,000 persons are in Trinidad illegally, of which more than 20,000 are Jamaicans.
However, pointing out that most Jamaicans who are in Trinidad and Tobago are making positive contributions to the country, he says if they were to be deported it would cripple the twin-island republic’s economy.
Griffith says with these Jamaicans remaining outside of the tax net the Trinidadian government is losing about $500 million in taxes annually.
He says in some cases illegal immigrants end up in criminal activities because of inability to secure meaningful employment as a result of their status.
Meanwhile, a discussion on a Trinidadian radio show yesterday led to heightened emotions following suggestions that Jamaicans in T&T are fuelling crime there.
The former government minister, Griffith, was a guest on the drive-time show on Power 102 FM.
However, it was comments made by the host, Barrington ‘Skippy’ Thomas, that drew the ire of one Jamaican caller in particular.