Minister of National Security Stuart Young believes Thursday’s incident involving 14 Venezuelan nationals being refused entry into the country, despite having the necessary papers, was a result of the Immigration officers exercising their duty.
In a WhatsApp message yesterday, Young told Guardian Media: “I expect that the men and women in the Immigration Division at Piarco are exercising their decision-making duties in accordance with the immigration laws of Trinidad and Tobago.”
He was responding to anger from some members of the Venezuelan population here in T&T after their compatriots were denied entry after they arrived at the Piarco International Airport on a flight from Venezuela on Thursday.
Pressed further on the issue, Young said, “As the Minister of National Security, I have a statutory role to play and it would be improper for me to say any more. I take the opportunity to thank the men and women in the Immigration Division for their service and commitment.”
On Thursday, La Venezolana flight AW1302 arrived at Piarco from Caracas around 10.24 am with 14 Venezuelan nationals on board—12 adults and two minors. However, almost 23 days after Young proposed an amnesty for any Venezuelan nationals residing in T&T, they were refused entry by Immigration officials. Juana Reyes, who was escorting her nephew to meet his mother here in T&T after they were granted asylum in Australia, as well as one of two brothers were allowed entry.
It is still unknown exactly why the Venezuelan passengers were turned away as Guardian Media was unable to get a hold of Chief Immigration Officer Charmaine Gandhi-Andrews.
Commenting on the situation at the airport yesterday, however, Venezuelan activist Yesenia Gonzalez said she did not understand why police and immigration officers were treating with the nationals in this manner and making them suffer.
“We’re already going through a war in Venezuela and we’re facing hunger and we’re facing a shortage of electricity and the water people have to drink is almost black…when those people leaving to come here, they’re leaving to come here for protection because we have an agreement that we must protect the refugees and those who running away from that,” Gonzalez said on CNC3’s The Morning Brew.