T&T minister sticks to figures on Guyanese deportees

(Trinidad Guardian) National Security Minister Gary Griffith is maintaining that figures on the number of illegal immigrants from Guyana and those deported are facts and not perception. He made the comment yesterday in response to concerns raised by Guyana’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett, about the number of Guyanese who were refused entry into this country.

“The Guyanese minister was free to have her own perception but the figures I have released are based on facts, not perception. The figures were given to me by the Immigration Division and are based on facts, not perception,” Griffith told the T&T Guardian in a telephone interview yesterday. He said the Guyana minister was also free to write to Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Dookeran to get the figures.

In the year end review of her ministry, Rodrigues-Birkett said there was a lack of timely information from Caricom states on Guyanese deportees and entry-refusals. Rodrigues-Birkett said the figures provided by her country’s ambassador to Caricom, Elisabeth Harper, showed that 199 Guyanese were refused entry into T&T in 2010, compared to 345 refusals in 2012, 277 in 2013 and 265 in 2014.

Griffith said recently that an estimated 25,000 Guyanese nationals were among more than 100,000 illegal immigrants living here. In her review, however, Rodrigues-Birkett it was the first time she had noticed “a release on the number of persons being deported, almost as if it’s an achievement.” She also condemned what appeared to be a ‘Peter pays for Paul’ policy, where all nationals of her country are branded for the mistakes of a few.

She said she had in fact contacted Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Dookeran asking for improved communication with respect to the timely provision of information.

AG’s figures
Two weeks ago, Attorney General Anand Ramlogan told Parliament that the most illegal immigrants who were deported from this country in the past four years were Guyanese. “From 2010 to now, the number one country concerning deportees from T&T is not the African continent, or India, it’s Guyana.” Ramlogan said Guyanese were the single largest number of people deported from 2010 to now, he said that figure was 41.8 per cent of deportees. The second highest was Jamaica with 18.5 per cent.”

Last week, four illegal immigrants escaped from the Immigration Detention Centre in Aripo. One of them, Jamaican has since surrendered.

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