US immigration numbers will impact on electoral arithmetic here

Dear Editor,

The recently released US immigration numbers, as they pertain to Guyana, tell an illuminating story.  Though incomplete, those numbers reveal a compelling demographic and political tale, with possibly material implications. They go a long way in justifying some of the hardnosed positions taken by local leaders on both sides of the divide.

For purposes of this writing, only the last five years will be used.  This does not skew anything, as the farther back one probes, the bigger the story of the demographic impact.  A rough average of five thousand Guyanese departing these shores (for America alone) for the last five years to take up permanent residence adds up to twenty-five thousand citizens gone.  This is what the records say, give or take.  While the figures do not provide details as to younger children and ethnic composition, some reasonable assumptions can still be drawn.  I do not think that any should have serious disagreement with where I end up from what follows.

I would venture that approximately twenty percent of those approved for permanent visas could be children below the age of eighteen.  This means that the total for the last half decade is now reduced to some twenty thousand adults.  Now here is a ticklish one, but one that is easily supported by the daily visuals that arrest one and all using Duke Street.  I would offer that easily sixty percent of those granted green card status are of East Indian origin.  This, in turn, means that twelve thousand adult Indians have gone from Guyana to start over life on a fulltime basis in the US.  It might be way more, but I think that this suffices for where I am going, which I believe should be more than obvious to even the densest in the midst.

Twelve thousand adult Indo-Guyanese and eight thousand adult Afro-Guyanese (or other ethnicities) are not inconsequential numbers in the taut political voting milieu that is Guyana.  For I think it is reasonable, if not safe, to postulate that the overwhelming majority of those emigrants will not be returning here, whenever the moment is finalized, just to exercise the franchise.  In other words, most of those twenty thousand eligible voters are lost for electoral purposes, whichever side may have been favoured.

Now I seek indulgence to make another not so far out assumption; rather, I think it is one that is close to whatever the real number happens to be.  I submit that somewhere around 6,000 votes are required by whatever formula prevails here for a seat in the National Assembly.  I stand to be corrected on this, but move on.  In view of the aggregate number of departing adult Guyanese, I would make the argument that one or the other of the major political groups stand to lose at least one seat, if not as many as two. In the razor thin elections environment that is Guyana, this could be a game changing development, with severe repercussions for certain triumphant political calculations.  It could be enough to turn the tide against or in favour.

Perhaps, this is one of the real reasons why there is so much rocklike resistance, and so many rhetorical sorties delivered, against any list review and update.  That is on the one side; and on the other, the rationale for the insistence that the business be sanitized.  I take the opportunity to remind that this is utilizing what is available from the last five years, and while making some assumptions that I believe are grounded in both optics and reality, as well as voting history.  It is about American departures alone; and does not extend to the region (Surinam, Trinidad, Barbados, and so forth).  I think it is enough to make people sit up and holler; or keep quiet.

Yours faithfully,

GHK Lall

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