Guyanese, British and Americans among illegal immigrants living in Barbados

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August 24 Bridgetown: There are an estimated 2 000 to 3 000 Guyanese living in Barbados illegally. This is according to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Home Affairs, Mia Mottley, who was a guest on a local televised talk show  along with Honourary Consul for Guyana, Norman Faria.

Mottley stressed that not only Guyanese were living in Barbados illegally, but there were also persons from many different countries including America and England. In terms of Guyanese, Mottley said that there were 5 032 living here under permanent status, which included citizenship, permanent residence, immigrant status, and CARICOM skilled nationals. The number under temporary status, which included temporary work permits, short- and long-term work permits, student visas, or reside and work, totalled approximately to about 3 200.

In addition, Mottley said that the Immigration Department would benefit from the establishment of 17 new posts to service the airport and its enforcement department, which only had five people. Mottley said that these additional posts would help the department carry out its mandate and reduce the number of illegal residents.

Where the problem comes, is that there are a number of persons who havent been given permission to stay either on vacation or under a short-term work permit, end up remaining illegally. And that is were the Department finds itself having to spend a lot of its energy, being able to go through its records and see where people have overstayed, and then being able to track them in the society, the Minister said. She also maintained that Guyanese were not singled out when trying to enter Barbados and that the Immigration Department had legitimate reasons for not allowing entry, and officers were acting within the law. The vast majority of Guyanese attempting to enter Barbados were allowed to enter, however there were some problems, for example forged documents, and people who had been deported trying to return under different names, Mottley said.

Moreover, it was noted that the prosperity of Barbados economy had created a demand for workers especially in the areas of construction and agriculture, and having access to labour was critical for those sectors. Immigration policy allowed for employees to bring in workers when there were shortages of labour, if the skills were not available in Barbados, and immigrants were often more productive and brought new skills to Barbados, Mottley said. With reference to social services, Mottley explained that there was not yet a strain because citizenship or permanent residence was necessary to access these. Additionally, Government was also working on a registration programme for guest workers, she revealed, which would help to regulate benefits, until total free movement is allowed in CARICOM. Mottley also said that a new policy paper and Immigration Bill is being prepared, which should go to Parliament in the next nine months. This would address changes that Barbados will face including balancing developmental needs with access to labour, national and border security, and large numbers of migrant labour, to ensure acceptable treatment.

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