Kamla:No Opposition support for Immigration changes

Changes to the Im­mi­gra­tion Reg­u­la­tions, pro­posed by the Gov­ern­ment will not re­ceive any sup­port from the Op­po­si­tion.

Speak­ing at the Unit­ed Na­tion­al Con­gress' Mon­day Night Fo­rum at the Aran­juez North Sec­on­dar School, Op­po­si­tion leader Kam­la Per­sad-Bisses­sar said that the Gov­ern­ment filed "some­thing known as Im­mi­gra­tion Reg­u­la­tion".

"And we have ap­plied to an­nul those reg­u­la­tions," she said.

"On May 24, a few days be­fore the reg­is­tra­tion process be­gan, they pub­lished these Im­mi­gra­tion Reg­u­la­tions. It was on­ly brought to our at­ten­tion a few days ago be­cause the way the law is framed they have to lay it in Par­lia­ment. These reg­u­la­tions took ef­fect im­me­di­ate­ly up­on pub­li­ca­tion in the Gazette," she said.

"We have the op­por­tu­ni­ty to file a mo­tion to an­nul it – which we have done – but they just need a sim­ple ma­jor­i­ty," she said.

She said it was "fright­en­ing" that changes to the Im­mi­gra­tion Reg­u­la­tions sought to give the min­is­ter in charge of im­mi­gra­tion the "pow­er to reg­u­lar­ize and nat­u­ral­ize aliens - non-Com­mon­wealth cit­i­zens".

"If you are a Com­mon­wealth cit­i­zen there is a cer­tain process to be­come a res­i­dent and or to be­come a cit­i­zen, but if you are an alien such as those from Venezuela, in the law," she said.

"This is giv­ing pow­er to a politi­cian and a mem­ber of the present gov­ern­ment, the pow­er to make one of these or the 14,000 or 20,000 Venezue­lans to give them the res­i­den­cy then the cit­i­zen­ship," she said.

Per­sad-Bisses­sar cit­ed an in­ter­view with the Venezue­lan am­bas­sador who said that legal­ly reg­is­tered Venezu­lans could ap­ply for res­i­den­cy or cit­i­zen­ship in T&T.

"If they are giv­en res­i­den­cy they can vote in a lo­cal elec­tion and af­ter that if they are grant­ed cit­i­zen­ship with the stroke of a pen they are go­ing to be al­lowed to vote there is no way, we in the Op­po­si­tion can sup­port that kind of law," she said.

The UNC deputy po­lit­i­cal leader Jear­lean John al­so ques­tioned whether the reg­is­tra­tion process was be­ing used by the Gov­ern­ment to bol­ster votes in the up­com­ing elec­tions.

She said the reg­is­tra­tion of the Venezuelians had noth­ing to do with com­pas­sion, it was not as a re­sult of hu­man­i­tar­i­an ef­fort on the part of the Gov­ern­ment.

"Most like­ly friends of the Gov­ern­ment told them their busi­ness­es were un­der­staffed, be­cause Trinida­di­an and To­bag­o­ni­ans, on­ly want hand­outs, and don’t want to work, you know the stereo­type that is put out there," John said.

Reporter: Renuka Singh

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