Even as contempt proceedings against Public Services Association (PSA) president Watson Duke began yesterday, Immigration Department workers in San Fernando continued to turn away people desperate for help.
Chris Ragobar said he was expected to attend a wedding in August in the US but he may not be able to go again.
Ragobar said he applied for his passport on May 22 and was told to return in three weeks. Since then, he has been to the office three times only to leave empty handed.
He said he too had to take time off from work.
Yina Tatis, from the Dominican Republic, said she was “totally confused.”
Tatis who is married to a Trinidadian, said her passport was being held by the Immigration Department for more than a year. She went to the office hoping to get permission to remain in the country for a longer period of time.
She said: “I was told I was doing wrong things. They were going to deport me. I had a lawyer intervene. They kept my passport. Every ten days, I have to come here to sign a form. I cannot do anything. They told me I cannot work, I cannot study, what they want me to do stay home and do? Nothing?”
Tatis, who came from Chaguanas, had an appointment with the Investigations Department on July 8 where she was to speak with a senior immigration officer. The office was not operational that day.
When she returned yesterday, she was turned away.
She said: “The officers are saying they don’t know anything about my forms. They can’t help me. They are saying my papers are in Port of Spain. When I go to Port of Spain, they are telling me I have to come back here. I am tired of coming here all the time. My husband has to take time off from work to bring me. He cannot take any more time off so he told me to come alone today.”
Tatis is pleading for her passport because she wants to see her three-year-old son in her home country and her sick mother who is taking care of him.
“I don’t know what to do. If sometime police see me and stop me and they see I don’t have the proper papers, and they lock me up, what can I do?” she asked.
On Thursday Acting Prime Minister Errol McLeod said the extensions of entry certificates for non-nationals to remain in the country were not being processed and were an essential service being denied to the public.
The public can only collect their passports or application forms.
The PSA’s reasons for industrial action have been health and safety issues and proper terms of employment.
When asked about the problems at the South Immigration office, a staff worker said there was a strong scent coming from the sewer, no proper emergency exits and persons had difficulty climbing the stairs.