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E. Jay Saunders, UK OT Minister David Rutley Hold Haiti Illegal Migration Talks

Deputy Premier for the Turks and Caicos Islands Hon. E. Jay Saunders (third from right) takes time for a photo op before getting down to business with UK OT Minister Hon. David Routley (second from right) and other dignitaries. At the left side of the table (from left) are Benito Wheatley - Special Envoy of the BVI Premier; Premier of Bermuda David Burt; and Premier for the British Virgin Islands Natali Wheatley. Also sharing in the moment are two members of the UK minister’s official detail.

Deputy Premier for the Turks and Caicos Islands Hon. E. Jay Saunders has pleaded the TCI border protection case to the United Kingdom Overseas Territory Minister David Rutley.

The meetings with the UK minister took place at the 45th Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago on July 4 and 6.

Sunders told the local media via social media that he initiated the border protection discussions with the British MP.

“I spoke with Hon. Rutley about the need for us to strengthen the protection of our southern border from illegal migrants and the need for us to have a long-term plan to deal with this issue,” Saunders said.

Illegal migration especially from the TCI’s French-speaking neighbors Haiti is costing the country millions of dollars each year in the form of apprehension, detention, and repatriation.

In the second meeting, Saunders said he strongly requested that the TCI be included in every discussion to do with resolving the daily deteriorating crisis in that failed state.

“(I) asked for TCI to be included in any conversation/discussion around a resolution to the problems in Haiti. I also raised that issue in Caricom. In my personal view, as the TCI is Haiti's closest neighbor (outside of the Dominican Republic), we should be a part of any multinational conversations around the current problems in Haiti and how to address them, as any decisions made on it will affect us first. I've registered this view very strongly with Hon. Rutley and with Caricom,” Saunders told the TCI Media.

Every so often, Haitians, in their bid to escape arid economic conditions and widespread violence, taking to the high seas to journey to the Turks and Caicos Islands, the Bahamas, and the United States especially.

In recent time the local authorities have theorized that much of the illegal voyages are rooted in human trafficking.

Some time ago, a group of Haitian geographically ignorant migrants, who were apprehended and brought to land, told the local media that they paid boat operators exorbitant sums of money to take them to Florida. However, the boat operators told them that they would drop them off in the Turks and Caicos Islands from which they could walk to Florida.

in the meantime, the TCI Deputy Premier, who is also the Minister and Trade, also pitched the need for accelerated capital projects and programmes delivery, asking for a review of the rules that govern delivery. He also calls for greater access to UK Ministers, so as to foster dialogues aimed at arriving progressive resolutions.

"In addition to this, I also addressed the need for the faster delivery of projects/programmes that benefit the people of the TCI.

"I raised the fact that there are multiple bottlenecks that slow down the delivery of capital projects and that there is a need to review the entire process to find the right balance between agile decision making and compliancy with the rules and regulations that govern delivery of capital projects.

"I gave the example of the Police Records Application, which due to direct involvement by me (a minister), we were able to produce a solution to a vexing problem in three months at a cost that will allow for full cost recovery in mere days. This example shows that Ministers should be allowed to have more say over projects and programmes within their Ministries.

"In the end, I thanked him for being so generous with his time and thoughtful with his answers. I believe that we, as local Ministers, can achieve far more if we're allowed more direct access to our counterparts in the UK. Unfortunately, that very rarely happens, and that's why our meeting at Carcom with Hon. Rutley was so important," Saunders said.



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