The Washington Misick Administration is going after businesses and individuals who hire undocumented workers in the wake of one of the Turks and Caicos Islands’ most established home and garden stores – KB Home – being charged and dragged before the court.
A government news release pointed out that KB Home, which operates under the trading name, Ananda Ltd Trading, was charged and sentenced to fines after it was caught red-handed hiring undocumented workers.
“Following an operation by the Immigration Taskforce from the Ministry of Immigration and Border Services, Ananda Ltd Trading – also known as KB Home Center – has been convicted on three counts of employing prohibited persons,” the statement said.
The statement pointed out that the three unauthorized employees were Haitian nationals, who have since been sent back to their homeland.
“Acting on intelligence in June 2021, Taskforce officers visited KB Home Center locations off Leeward Highway and Five Cays and found the three persons, all Haitian nationals, working without permission. All persons were detained and have since been removed from the Turks and Caicos Islands, repatriated back to Haiti,” the statement further noted.
The statement further noted: “Following the Immigration Department’s investigation, Ananda Ltd Trading was charged and pleaded guilty to three counts of employing a prohibited person. The company was sentenced at court to a fine of $2,000 – or 30 days imprisonment – on each count.”
In an interview with NewslineTCI, Immigration and Border Services Minister Hon. Arlington Musgrove, pointed out that the campaign to rid the country of illegal workers is a promise that his ministry is now manifesting itself to do.
“It is basically putting my money where my mouth is,” he said. “This is the first of many, we will be going around checking for papers on construction sites and various kinds of businesses who hire illegals…because it is not going to happen in this country…not under my watch.”
While Musgrove is satisfied that businesses were not being prosecuted for hiring undocumented workers, he was not satisfied with the level of fines that are currently on the books, and so, he told this newspaper that he has already begun to take steps to have the fines bumped up, so as to serve as a tangible deterrent.
“We are in talks with the judiciary to increase these fines so it could be a full deterrent. We have begun talks with the judiciary to figure out why the fines are there, and to increase it some more, to show the public that we are serious about this situation of hiring illegals,” he said.
NewslineTCI was curious as to what level of fines that Minister Musgrove would be comfortable with. But he said he did not want to disclose it at this time, seeing that he had already engaged the judiciary and talks have already started.
“I don’t want to disclose that now because we just had a meeting with he judiciary concerning this, so, I don’t want to pre-empt what is going on,” he said.
Referring to himself a ‘new sheriff in town’, Minister Musgrove promised at recent news conferences that he would be going after those who flout the law to hire those without documents, who are more than likely come at a cheaper price, at the expense of locals and residents documented to hold those jobs.
In the meantime, Head of the Immigration Taskforce, Tito Forbes, addressing the KB Home Center issue, stated that his charges visited business establishment after receiving intelligence that it was breaching the immigration and Labor laws of the Turks and Caicos Islands.
“This was an operation informed by our immigration intelligence unit and which led to a detailed investigation by my officers, resulting in the conviction of a business here in Providenciales for employing illegal workers,” he said, echoing Minister Musgrove’s assertion that his government would come down with the full force of the law on those errant establishments.
“Businesses that employ illegal workers are a huge part of our challenge. Migrants risk their lives trying to get to TCI because they think they can find work and live here illegally,” he said.
In the meantime, Minister Musgrove is reminding businesses to desist from such practices because it is criminal, arguing that when an undocumented worker is employed, that individual essentially denies legitimate persons the right to earn a living.
“Employing illegal workers is a criminal offence, and not one that is without a victim, and rogue employers have an unfair advantage over legitimate businesses who do play by the rules.
“The TCI is working hard to combat illegal migration, and businesses offering employment to illegal migrants are only harming the efforts of our country in tackling this issue.
“Members of the public are encouraged to report information regarding illegal migration activity – including businesses or persons employing illegal workers, by contacting Crimestoppers, which can be done anonymously, on 1-800-8477,” he said.