(Jamaica Observer) Jamaica’s Ambassador to the United States Audrey Marks is urging eligible Jamaicans residing in the US to take the necessary steps to become US citizens as a means of stemming the high number of deportations to the island, particularly among young males with little or no connection to Jamaica.
Marks, who was delivering the keynote address at the New Jersey-based HELP Jamaica Medical Mission’s 8th annual fundraiser black tie gala in New Jersey, last Saturday, noted that over the past nine months, a total of 650 Jamaicans were deported to the island.
Of that number, 75 of them were young males, she said, noting that there has been a dramatic increase in deportations from the United States.
“Tonight, I want to use this opportunity to appeal to those of you who are residents in the US and are not citizens of the United States – please go out and become one. You will have all the benefits and no disadvantages, as Jamaica and the United States offer dual citizenship,” she said.
The Jamaican ambassador explained that she had held several meetings with the US Congress as it relates to immigration. Prior to these meetings, she had visited a number of persons held in detention and slated to be deported.
“At one center, there were 64 healthy young Jamaican men, many of whom have been in the US since they were kids and did not get around becoming citizens; and they have no one in Jamaica and are slated to be deported.”
Jamaicans deported from the United States over the past decade number over 20,000, Ambassador Marks noted, challenging Jamaican organisations in the United States to unite as mentors and protect marginalised immigrant Jamaican young people from being recruited into criminal activities.
“You the leaders and members of the various organisations here in the United States by coming together and being mentors can put a dent in exporting the crime back to Jamaica.”
Meanwhile, Marks commended HELP Jamaica Medical Mission for being a valuable partner and true friend of the island, providing selfless healthcare to the underserved of Jamaica and New Jersey.
“Year after year, the members of your organisation forgo personal gain and volunteer their time, energy and resources in order to provide healthcare to the underserved communities across Jamaica.
“This year thousands of patients in 6 parishes, namely Clarendon, Hanover, Kingston, St. Catherine, St Thomas and Westmorland, were beneficiaries of medicines, wheelchairs and other essential items, courtesy of your organisation,” she said.
The organisation’s 2018 Presidential Award was presented to Ambassador Marks, while the Humanitarian Award went to Dr Leon Dick and the Community Service Award to the CEO of East Orange General Hospital, Paige Dworak.