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‘Please, Leave Now!’

Immigration Minister Begs Illegals To Depart TCI As He Commissions Zero Tolerance ‘Operation Pursuit’

Immigration Minister Hon. Arlington Musgrove

If your immigration status is illegal in the Turks and Caicos Islands you are best advised to leave now of face the full weight of the law.


This unequivocal warning came from Minister of Immigration and Border Service Hon. Arlington Musgrove on Tuesday during the launch of ‘Operation Pursuit’ – a new zero-tolerance measure aimed at stamping out undocumented migrants from the Turks and Caicos Islands.


Under Operation Pursuit, Immigration Officers are given the full backing of the Washington Misick Administration and the Governor’s Office, to raid homes and workplaces, to rid the country of persons residing here illegally.


The minister pointed out that the measure became necessary on two fronts, (1 – that there has been an exponential increase in vessels from failed state Haiti loaded with desperate migrants fleeing political turmoil and arid economic condition to the Turk sand and Caicos Islands, and (2 – there are been probably hundreds of persons whose work permits have expired but still turning up to work every day.


“I encourage persons who fall into this category (expired work permits) to please, leave now. Leave now because this government will be taking a zero-tolerance approach to this matter,” Minister Musgrove warned, asserting that if locals are found to be entertaining such practice, would not be spared from prosecution.


“I am also putting, my people on notice, that we will not be entertaining any request for leniency, because I will say this, when government is not active you cry for activity, but when the government is active you cry that it is inhumane or that we are infringing on human rights, or that we need people (expats to fill the employment void(, even though you have not taken the steps to regularize their status here,” the tough-talking Minister Musgrove emphasized.

He said government has recently changed some of the clauses in its immigration ordinance with the help of the Attorney General Chambers, which he said are geared to strengthen border security.


“The ordinance changes of 2022 saw the introduction of new offenses, from aggravated assisting in illegal entry, which carries up to 14 years imprisonment, as well as stronger penalties for assisting with illegal entry, harboring and the use of illegal labor,” Minister Musgrove pointed out.


“In addition to this, this cabinet recently spent four days reviewing proposed amendments to the complete immigration ordinance, and the first draft of those amendments are cleared for public consultation,” Musgrove further noted.


He pointed out that the amendments will also change the way Permanent Residency statutes or PRCs and endorsement on work permits are done, pointing out also that the proposed amendments also look at time limits for some categories of work permits.


“These are just some of the measures moving forward,” the Minister declared,” pointing that government would not stop there, but through the multi-agency mechanism, made up of the police, immigration, customs, and other and other enforcement arms of government, will embark on a robust campaign to arrest illegal activities immigration-wise.


“Persons who are here illegally I advise you to leave now, or risk being detained, repatriated or deported and be placed on the stop-list from returning to the Turks and Caicos Islands in the future,” the minister warned.


He added: “This will be a very broad operation, and agents will be carrying out activities in all sectors, but across the entire Turks and Caicos Islands. This will not be a one-off operation like those in the past. But will be a sustained and consistent approach to removing persons who irregularly and illegally reside in the Turks and Caicos Islands.


“We are the custodian of this land, and we must act responsibly. If you are organizing illegal migration, stop it. If you are harboring illegal or irregular migrants stop it. If you are employing persons illegally, please, for God’s sake, stop it.


“We have no desire to see our people brought before the courts, or even behind bars. But if you insist on selling our birthright, our children’s birthright, our children’s future by involving in illegal or irregular migration, we will aggressively pursue you, and you will be dealt with through the full extent of the law.”


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