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Should quest to be humane cost us our country?

Published: 
Monday, April 16, 2018

Daily, we see newspaper headlines and stories chronicling the frightening reality that guns and ammunition, drugs and what sometimes appear to be human trafficking, are infiltrating our borders and are possibly contributing to our alarming crime statistics.

However, notably, our national security agencies, albeit already overwhelmed with local crimes and criminality, are placing great efforts to grapple with the influx of illegal immigrants and the weapon and drug trade, from all of our neighbours, but more so those of the mainland.

Mere reports in the media alone recently validate these concerns, with police raids resulting in tens of Venezuelans being arrested for illegal entry and in another case, one being shot dead. Conversely, this is a myopic look into our immigration issue which is spiralling out of control, as reports over time have indicated that we have seen an increase of people illegally entering from African countries and from the Caribbean.

Nonetheless, it is frightening to learn of the revelation made by Chief Immigration Officer, Charmaine Ghandi-Andrews, that there are about 150–200 Vene zuelans coming into the country by sea each week—that’s roughly 30 per day.

What some of us as citizens are failing to understand is that there exist a break down in our institutions as it stands—our economy is fighting to return to consistent, positive growth, cost of living is steadily increasing, our public health and education systems are overcrowded, our judicial system is snail slow, and our family unit is in need of dire attention and treatment, just to name a few.

This is the backdrop of where we already find ourselves; systems that are failing which are now being forced to support individuals from other jurisdictions which appear to have failed.

There is no easy fix as evident with recent pronouncements by the Government that, when these people are found and brought the court, it subsequently costs the country even more to repatriate them to their country of origin than to allow them to remain incarcerated at the detention centre. So what do we do? Just allow a free-for-all?

Absolutely not. We have enough critical thinkers in high office, one would hope, that can spark solutions to mitigate the imminent effects of this increase in undocumented people, and fast!

There needs to be a clear position on the government’s part to treat with our immigration issues. While legislation to address asylum may be a slow but long-term solution, it is a start. If we are turning a blind eye to the issue of illegal entry, then there needs to be proper programmes and systems in place to integrate these people into our society, to reduce the desire to become part of the criminal element and exacerbate the current crime situation.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love my neighbours and assisting those in need, and I am aware that Trinidadians themselves integrate into other societies in similar, illegal ways, but if we are serious about sustainable development and a secure future, we need to plan and address issues such as these.

RYAN NANTON

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