For years, we have been bombarded with the increase of illegal immigrants in our country whether they entered by boat, plane and overstayed their time. Anything that is done contrary to the laws of our country is illegal and so if you are not residing in the TCI legally you are committing an offense which is subject to harsh penalties. However, there are individuals, companies and even some of our systems that are enabling the increase of illegal immigrants.
Labour clearance process
It was approximately about four years ago that an announcement was made that the processing time for a work permit will not exceed four (4) weeks including the application for labour clearance. Apparently this practice is not in place as yet and can be very frustrating and results in companies and individuals hiring individuals illegally because they have work that has to be done.
I am aware of individuals that waited for almost three months just to get a response on labour clearance applications. This should not be happening in 2020. There should be a simple process either the labour clearance is approved or rejected and it should not take more than a week for a decision to be made. The delays in these decisions create bottlenecks for individuals and companies and as mentioned already it forces you to hire people illegally.
Work permit process
Like the labour clearance process, the work permit process can also be a lengthy process, sometimes taking months to be processed. A work permit application should not take more than 4 weeks especially after it has gone through the labour clearance process. The work permit should be simple process, as long as evidence is provided that there are no qualified locals who can do the job then the process should not be complicated. As a result of the delay in work permits, individuals are working illegally.
On a daily basis, illegal structures continue to be erected on crown land and other people’s land. The fact that individuals can squat on land for years without any penalty or without the structures being demolished, is an invitation for illegal immigrants. I did notice though that TCIG has a tender out for consultancy on the management and control of informal settlements. This is a great initiative. Hopefully something will be done soon
In the meantime, I believe we should provide incentives to locals for the construction of apartments so that there is adequate housing when the illegal housing is properly dealt with. If we do not have alternatives for persons living in illegal structures then the situation will continue.
No status check
Many of us have individuals cleaning our yards, our offices and even our homes perhaps on a frequent basis. These individuals are sometimes refer to us by others but some of us do not check the legal status of these individuals. If we don’t, then we are encouraging illegal immigrants to come to us for a job because we don’t check.
In addition to this, there are a number of individuals that have businesses throughout the islands with no business licence being displayed or anyone checking to see if they have a business licence. This too can create more illegals to the islands if word get outs that they can open a business and no one will check to see if they have a valid business licence.
Hospital Emergency check in
There are many illegals who are abusing and misusing our hospital facilities. They are aware that if there is an emergency the hospital does not turn you away and so they take advantage of that. They get the service, checked out and do not pay.
Focused on one group
Sometimes we focused on one group as potential illegals while there are many others that we overlooked simply because of who they are and how they look. We need to do more spot checks at some of these establishments. There is nothing wrong with people coming here to work but they should be legal and of course we need to make our process more efficient.
I know there are loopholes in some of our systems and if we do not address them, others will circumvent them and sooner or later everything will be out of control resulting in a Wild Wild West environment. The illegal immigrants are creating a burden on our social and financial systems. We cannot continue to allow this to happen.