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Trinidad and Tobago needs to follow the approach of its first world counterparts as it relates to the immigration rules governing Jamaicans in Trinidad and Tobago.
For instance, Jamaican nationals cannot enter the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States, even the Cayman Islands, without the required visas from their embassies or consulates.
This did not happen overnight. Cayman Islands Governor Duncan Taylor pointed out that there is a lively market in forged and counterfeit documentation in Jamaica and without a visa requirement unscrupulous Jamaicans could gain entry and this could have a significant negative impact on the security of the Cayman Islands.
For Canada, Jamaicans must now provide their biometrics which is now enforced under new regulations by Citizenship and Immigration Canada for the purpose of protecting the safety and security of Canadians while helping to facilitate legitimate travel of law abiding Jamaicans. They noted that in this way it is difficult for others to forge, steal or use an applicant’s identity to gain access to Canada.
In the United Kingdom, a visa was imposed because far too many Jamaicans break immigration laws. According to a Home Office spokesperson, the policy was introduced not only for immigration reasons but also to assist in the fight against drugs. The UK sees this imposition as making it more difficult for persons involved in criminal activity to get access to Britain.
A British Deputy High Commissioner in Jamaica, Phil Sinkinson, claimed one in ten passengers leaving for Britain was a drug “mule”. In addition, Jamaicans disappear once they get into your country. Statistics gathered from the UK are interesting. In six months in 2002, 900 Jamaicans disappeared while on a visitor’s entry to the UK. Over 20 per cent of those seeking entry were denied and in 2011, 3,500 were sent back home, leaving Jamaica with a large repatriation bill.
The question is why? Duncan Taylor of the Caymans tells us the reason is to thwart increasing incidents of Jamaicans involved in local criminal activity. The British wants to keep in check the drug trade. Something has to be wrong when the global community is placing additional checks and balances on Jamaicans wishing to enter their country.
This is a country where a Prime Minister was forced to demit office because of his close association to a drug lord now convicted in the USA. As Trinbagonians, we cannot simply close our eyes as Minister Winston Dookeran wants us to and leave our borders open and unprotected to the wiles of the Jamaicans. I am sure the Bajans will also agree, given their own experience with Jamaicans and their own security.
I am of the firm view that if the concept of the Caricom Single Market and Economy (CSME) is posing a threat to the sovereignty of nation states then we should review it but Jamaicans should not exploit this well-meaning agreement to use it as an opportunity to destabilise nation states.
There was no cry of discrimination when the Home Office in London imposed the visa requirement on Jamaicans. Maxine Roberts, the Jamaican High Commissioner in London, conceded that the changes were inevitable.
My full support in this struggle lies with National Security Minister Senator Gary Griffith. Finally we have in office a minister who will stand up for us against the Caribbean bullies and for me that is commendable.
I hope Minister Dookeran and our Prime Minister also applaud Minister Griffith for this stand.
Jonathan Cooper
via e-mail
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