Trinidad and Tobago’s National Security Minister has declared that there are too many Jamaicans in the twin island republic illegally, brushing off renewed criticism of the treatment of some who are denied entry.
In a release on Friday, National Security Minister Gary Griffith claimed that there are 19,000 Jamaicans in the country illegally, who, he alleged, are feeding off State resources and causing the country to lose over one billion TT dollars in revenue annually.
His comments come days after Jamaica’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Senator AJ Nicholson, contacted his Trinidadian counterpart, following reports that 13 Jamaicans were denied entry on September 30 and treated in an inhumane manner.
Mr. Griffith declared his support of the actions taken by immigration officers at Piarco International Airport, in relation to the Jamaicans, as they were found to be in breach of immigration requirements.
He asserted that the immigration officials were doing their job and the authorities cannot act as a “rubber stamp” when it comes to allowing people into the country.
The Minister further declared that carte blanche facilitation of entry of visitors into Trinidad and Tobago, without proper checks and balances, creates the potential for an exponential increase in criminal activity.
He claimed that the majority of the Jamaicans in Trinidad & Tobago have no fixed place of abode in the country and are unable to work or acquire a source of income.
National Security Minister Griffith has also declared that Caricom nationals do not have the right of automatic entry into Trinidad and Tobago and must meet immigration requirements.
Griffith is contending that his Ministry must ensure that every visitor who enters the country does not in any way become a liability to the State.
Regarding claims by the 13 Jamaicans that they were forced to sleep on the floor and denied access to food and bathroom facilities at Piarco International Airport, he declared that the Immigration Division is not responsible for accommodation of passengers as that charge lies with the airline on which they travelled.
Mr. Griffith provided statistics which showed that on September 30, the day the 13 Jamaicans were refused entry, there were 2,021 arrivals in Trinidad and Tobago, of which 23 were refused.
He said 98.86 per cent of landed passengers were accepted, demonstrating that Trinidad and Tobago has been adhering to its obligations under the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas.