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Up To 4500 Haitians Could Attempt Landfall By Year’s End

File Photo of a sloop laden with Haitian Nationals, attempting to flee poverty and violence in their homeland.

illegal migration is the number one threat facing the Turks and Caicos Islands, and the risk is growing, this according to Minister of Immigration and Border Services Hon. Arlington “Chuck” Musgrove.

Speaking on Tuesday, May 23, at the Premier’s Office on Providenciales during the launch of “Operation Pursuit”- a long-term initiative to aggressively round-up, prosecute and deport illegal migrants, Minister Musgrove pointed out that government was being forced to expend millions of dollars on apprehending, housing and repatriating illegal migrants.

However, he said the practice of the boats coming continues to go on unabated, as Haiti is now void of any form of government.

“In 2021 we repatriated 1,426 persons from 23 vessels. In 2022, we repatriated 2,122 from 28 vessels. And already, for 2023, as of May 22, we have repatriated 1,921 persons from 17 boats, and just over 1/3 of this year (2023) has passed.

To be honest, the money that we are spending on illegal and irregular migration can easily go towards the implementation of social programs for the benefit of our people.”

“If we continue on this trend, we are looking at an estimated 4,494 persons to be repatriated from an estimated 36 boats. This is unprecedented, and it is a serious social impact and financial pressure of great implications for our communities, our livelihoods and country,” Minister Musgrove lamented.

He pointed out that in 2021, government expended an estimated $3 million-plus on illegal migration, and and estimated $4million in 2022.

“Year on year since 2018 the cost of this growing problem has increased. And whether it is sustainable or not, the better we get at interception, the more it will cost the country. Likewise unlawful migration or irregular migrants or overstayers that are here…those persons who had been granted leave to remain at one point, for example visas, visitors, residents on work permit but those statuses have been expired, is also another growing problem here in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

“And while we do not know the full extent of this category, of process we believe to be expensive. There are many persons we believe living and working among us who have not regularized their status here, and some who have sought to further harm our country by creating and submitting fraudulent documents,” he said.

Minister Musgrove pointed out that the human trafficking trend seemed to have evolved from sloops to go-fast boats, which, in additional to human trafficking, drugs and guns have become part of the trafficking.

These drugs and weaponry, Minister Musgrove said, were being used to service the criminal networks in shanty town developments throughout the country.

As a result of go-fast boats being used in criminality, Minister Musgrove revealed that there has been a steady rise in pleasure boat thefts.

“These problems did not develop overnight. But we must continue to take hard stands against it…dig our heels in and seek to stamp it out.

“We cannot control nor influence the situation in Haiti…we are a tiny group of islands with only enough resources to help our people to face the economic shocks and inflation,” he said.

He added: “To be honest, the money that we are spending on illegal and irregular migration can easily go towards the implementation of social programs for the benefit of our people.”

The tough-talking immigration minister revealed that it has come to his attention that Turks and Caicos Islanders were involved in the practice of human trafficking, and has urged them abandon such practice.

“We, as Turks and Caicos Islanders and custodians of this land…some of us are directly contributing to this problem, and we must stop it,” he cautioned. “It is distracting, it is frustrating, it is dangerous, and it is a downright embarrassment to this country regionally and internationally, and it must stop.

He added: “While we cannot control the situation in Haiti, we certainly can control the situation here. And this government is committed to eliminating the practice that serves as a pull factor for illegal migration and which harbors and fosters irregulating migration.”

In the meantime, Minister Musgrove thanked the country’s international partners, who he said continued to assist with detection, interception, apprehension, and investigation of illegal migrants.

He said at least $12.6 million will be invested in border protection over the next three years, which would, among other things, bankroll the digitization of the country’s immigration system, introduction of biometrics for non-citizens, which would be stored in a central system to readily establish whether someone is legally or illegally here.

“This will prevent migrants from entering our country illegally, and simply legalizing themselves by changing their identity,” Minister Musgrove argued.

He said further that the number of enforcement officers have been doubled, and training for them remained constant.

“But as we transition to a single border force, we have added an additional $500,000 for the procurement of new vehicles,” the immigration minister said.



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