The migrant registration programme has once again been extended, National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds said yesterday.
Speaking on the Eye on Dependency programme on i95.5FM, Hinds said the number of recommended applications as of the end of 2022 received by his Ministry was 9,133.
“I would have approved 9,133 of them. A total of 449 were not recommended,” he said, adding some the reasons for some of them being disregarded before reaching his desk were because of breaches in the law on the part of applicants.
“Some of them would have committed crimes in Trinidad and Tobago,” he said.
The minister said there are now 4,710 pending applications.
“So, we gave comfort to those who were here...I hardly hear of any unemployed Venezuelans here,” he said.
He explained that since the start of the Migrant Registration Programme in April 2019, the Government has decided to continue extending it every year.
However, it only benefits those illegal migrants who were here before the programme, as those who come in illegally afterwards will be deported.
The question of expired migrant cards was also raised but Hinds said this was a matter of administration.
“There are many cards, updated cards, sitting at the Ministry (National Security) that they (migrants) have not come to collect,” he said.
Under the programme, approved migrants would be able to work in this country for one year.
Venezuelans who are registered will also benefit from free emergency medical services at public health institution.
Hinds said many of them have been in this country for a long time but the numbers increased in recent years due to social and political circumstances in Venezuela.
When the first registration was done, there were approximately 16,500 migrants.
But Hinds said since then things have improved in Venezuela and many of them have opted to return home.
During the interview, Hinds said border security remains a top priority for the Government, given the high volume of illegal guns and drugs entering our shores.
He said the Coastal Radar System is now 100 per cent operational and functional
“Every aspect of it,” he said, adding that an upgrade is now under focus.
Hinds also said they are expecting some additional vessels for the TTPS Coastal and Riverine Unit by the end of March but did not give a figure.
“To make them far more effective to deal with our rivers and to deal with our coastlines from the shoreline to two miles out,” he said.
He also said those police officers have benefitted from improved speciality training.
On the issue of illegal firearm retrieval, he said acting Police Commissioner Erla Christopher has a new plan and is reenergised to retrieve illegal firearms.
He said they are now “aiming to mop up” the approximately 12,000 illegal guns in this country, adding these weapons contribute to many of T&T’s homicides.
He said investigating those crimes has also seen improvement.
“25 cold cases were solved last year,” he said.
He referred to calls for his removal by highlighting reports of high murder counts during the tenure of the People’s Partnership administration.
“We have been a violent society for a very long time,” he said.
In giving a breakdown of the classifications of murders for 2022, Hinds said gang violence (245) accounted for most of the 605 killings. He said to date, 47 remain unclassified.
“Those are some of the things we are up against,” he said.
The Minister also boasted about the gains being made by the Forensic Science Centre.
He said while it is customary that autopsies are not done on the weekend, on Saturday, one was done on a body which was found to retrieve ballistic evidence that assisted the police in their investigation.
He also said 21 police officers have been trained at the Forensic Science Centre (FSC) and have become certified examiners.
“You now have police officers who have acquired that technical capacity and have enhanced the numbers and therefore, we will see more resolutions when firearms are used in crime scenes,” Hinds said.
He said an additional five officers were also trained in the DNA unit of the (FSC).