In a bid to bolster its coastal detection of undocumented migrants who often make attempts to reach these shores, the Turks and Caicos Islands Government is to install two additional radar towers on the island of Providenciales, bringing the number to three.
Minister of Immigration Hon. Arlington Musgrove made the announcement at a news conference on Monday, May 17.
“We have approved the purchase an installation of two additional radar sites to supplement the current facilities to eliminate any blind spots and aid in the early detection of these vessels,” he said.
Minister Musgrove pointed out that one of the stations would be erected in the Long Bay area, which is located to the South-eastern end of the of the island, while the other would be installed at Northwest Point, located at North-western end of the island. The existing radar is located in the Five Cays area, which is at the south-western end of the island.
Responding the questions from reporters, he pointed that the operators of the boats that ferry the undocumented migrants have become even craftier in their operations, making their drop-offs at Northwest Point and in the Long Bay areas of the island, in a bid to evade radar detection.
The minister revealed that since the beginning of April, some 726 undocumented persons have been caught and sent back to their countries of origin. The illegal migration, which the minister describes as ‘invasion’, has been putting on strain on the countries purse-strings. He said the vast majority of those deported were from neighbouring poverty-stricken Haiti.
“Since the commencement of the financial year 2021/2022, 726 illegal migrants have been processed and repatriated to their homeland. This includes 681, from vessels from Haiti. We are cognizant of the strain this places is on the public purse and we are therefore strategizing on a robust approach to address the illegal invasion,” the minister said.
In the meantime, Minister Musgrove said total of 36 persons have been prosecuted for breaches of the Immigration Ordinance. He insinuated that the illegal migration into the Turks and Caicos Islands could stem from human trafficking. To this end, he issued a plea to the general public to assist law-enforcement with information of any such activities taking place.
“I plead to you, the public, to be forthcoming with any information that you may have that will assist with the investigation and apprehension of anyone involved in trafficking,” he urged.
The Minister, meanwhile, heaped commendations on the operations or the coastal radar station, saying that they are doing a tremendous job detecting illegal activities on our waters.
“I must commend the efforts of the radar team in the successful detection of illegal vessels over the past weeks and the aggressive approach in capturing these illegal immigrants.
“A visit was made to the radar station, I received a thorough update and review of the functions under the remit. This remains a critical concern that demands direct attention and I have given priority focus to the needs of this department,” he reiterated.
The minister, revealed that in an effort to alleviate the strenuous hours staff at the station currently operate, several new recruits have been added to the core.
“Staff has undoubtedly been overstretched resulting from understaffed issues they faced. We are happy to report that seven new staff members have been recruited and we remain committed to ongoing training to ensure productivity,” he noted.