Illegal immigration is a topical issue that is plaguing many countries particularly the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI). Therefore, last week during the House of Assembly meeting, the Government of TCI presented an amendment to the Immigration Bill that caters to an increase in the penalties hopefully deterring illegal immigration. Ironically though, a Member of Parliament (Governor’s appointed member #2) publicly stated that before he can support a bill like this, he wants the Immigration Minister to sort out those individuals who have been here for 20 years or more. Despite what the appointed member stated publicly about not supporting the bill but when it was time to vote, he did not say no to the bill. Isn’t this hypocrisy?
I am quite aware that there are legacy issues that have to be dealt with but I hope our eyes are now fully open as we now have a glimpse of what will happen when we enlarge the franchise. As I said it before and I will say it again, we do not need any amnesty at this time. There was an amnesty in 2004 and 18 years later, the issues remain unresolved. We need to clean up our illegal immigration issues and incentivize individuals from the diaspora to return to the Turks and Caicos Islands.
This article will focused on the content of the Governor’s appointed member speech.
Payment for a PRC does not guarantee approval
The Governor’s Appointed Member #2 stated that there are some individuals that have paid $10,000 for their PRC from four years ago and cannot get their documents. While individuals are entitled to apply for a PRC, it does not mean they are qualified to get a PRC automatically. I know that there are some issues with people documents being held up for a length of time but there are also some cases whereby the individuals do not qualified for a PRC. Maybe that is why these individuals have not received their documents. They need to check the Department to see if there are any letters on file for them but in the meantime, individuals must be legal in the country which means they must be in a possession of a valid work permit even while they are waiting on the outcome of their PRC application.
Companies must submit application for work permit holders
As far as I know, with the exception of free-lance and self-employed work permits, companies must submit work permit applications to TCIG on behalf of their employees. I am concerned because the appointed member stated that individuals paid for work permits and have not received their documents… Individuals should not be paying for work permits, companies should be paying for work permits. If there are individuals in this country who do not have a work permit, they are illegal and should not be encouraged to remain in the country. Yes it takes a long time to get a work permit but maybe the Member of Parliament should make a recommendation on how he thinks the process can be expedited rather than urging the Minister of Immigration to give them their documents. Maybe their work permits were declined. Have you thought about that?
A birth in TCI is not an automatic citizenship of TCI
There are some countries whereby when a mother gives birth to a child in that country, that child automatically becomes a citizen even if the parents are not citizens of that country. In the Turks and Caicos Islands, if a child is born in the Turks and Caicos and neither of the parents are non-Turks and Caicos Islanders then that child cannot get TCI status at the time of birth. The same law is in Haiti and that the appointed member should know this. The appointed member should also know that the children born to Haitian parents or any other nationality in TCI can get status of their parents and so they can get documents of their parents if they wish. They don’t have to be here without documents. The issue is, some people believe because they were born here, they should get citizenship automatically but that is not our law. They can qualified at age 18 though
To live in any country, you should be legal
The appointed member stated that he knew a gentleman who lived here for 27 years and he got caught and was returned to Haiti. Sir, the gentleman was sent back to Haiti because he was illegal. He was violating the laws of the country. Is the appointed member suggesting that we allow illegal people to stay in the country because they were here for many years? People must follow the law of the country and people were here so many years legally, they should apply for the PRC. However, it seems that some people cannot pass the Turks and Caicos Studies course. Anyone that has been here that long should assimilate and know the history about the Turks and Caicos.
No one is working for free
I agree that the Haitian community plays an integral part of our country serving in various capacities. However, the individuals are not working for free. They are getting paid for their services. Now if you believe individuals are getting underpaid, then present private motion to the House of Assembly. By the way they are not the only ones doing hard work.
If you are aware of illegal persons, report them
The Appointed member stated that he is aware of someone who has been in Turks and Caicos Islands doing business for 17 years and does not have a work permit. It appears that the member was not talking about a Haitian national in this instance. This alone is evident that more than Haitians are illegal and so the bill was not about Haitians as the Appointed Member implied. The Bill is about all illegals in the country. I also find it shocking that the member would come to the House of Assembly and stated this. If he knew this, he should have reported it this a long time ago and then let the people know what he did to alleviate illegal immigration but no he waited until almost a year in the House and say he is aware of someone working without a work permit. Could it be he did not do anything about this because he is aware of other individuals like the gentleman who was here for 27 years without a status?
In section 106, the Bill stated that “a person who knowingly harbours another person who is in the Islands in contravention of this Ordinance commits an offence and is liable ….” The Appointed member has misled the House and say if a Turks and Caicos rent a house to any one who does not have a valid document can be fined. That statement is very misleading as the individual had to know that the person is illegal. Mr. Appointed member, no one should be harbouring any illegal persons and the law said specifically “knowingly”. Mr. Appointed member, are you encouraging individuals who are are aware of illegals that should be quiet? By the way, if a work permit expires, that person is no longer legal.
Any member of Parliament whether appointed or elected, that member should lead by example and ensure that the laws of our country are upheld. A member should also vote for laws and amendments that are in the best interest of the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands even if their loyalty is elsewhere.
I cannot comprehend why the Appointed Member is being praised by some people when his contribution was irrelevant to the Bill. The only point I would agree with the Appointed Member is that companies are bringing in who they want to bring in to occupy top and middle management points. While this point is valid, it was irrelevant to the Bill that was laid on the table.
I hope by now after reading this article, many would conclude that the speech by the Governor Appointed Member #2 was full of hypocrisy. Again, as I said in the introduction, the record does not reveal that Governor Appointed Member voted against the bill.